Marietta

“But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” Ruth 1:16-17 (NLT)

Today a friend on facebook posted something about mother-in-laws. She went on to say that she loved her mother in law and considered her a friend.

This prompted me to think of my mother-in-law. Dale and I dated for three years, and were engaged for eleven more months before getting married. So, we have been together a long time.

At first, his mother was not too fond of me. We always say that was because I was a ‘city’ girl and Dale was a country boy she had her doubts. I know that really made no difference to his mom, but we tried to figure out why I was not liked right away.

Time did improve our relationship and by time that engagement ring was slipped onto my finger his Mom and I were friends. We were young when we got engaged. Young when we married. Yet, this woman accepted me and loved me.

Since she had no daughter and I had no mother, I invited her to be with me on many of the plans for our wedding. She actually picked out my wedding gown, which makes it even more special to me.

Through the years we laughed often. Got in trouble with our husbands a lot. Got lost together as neither of us has/had a keen sense of direction.

My memories of her are rich. I miss her mirthful laughter, it was almost musical. Her tenderness toward the Lord spoke volumes to me. She could not pray or talk about God without tears streaming down her cheeks.

I have often said I had three mothers growing up. My own Mother who brought me into the world and taught me the foundations of life. My older sister who guided me through my teen years (I personally think she had the hardest shift) and my mother in law who taught me how to be a wife and mother. My life is full and complete from these three women.

The verse above is how I felt about my mother in law. She was my own personal Naomi. Most women are blessed to have one mother who has nurtured and guided them, I had three.

The day after Dale and I married, we stopped to pick up our rental truck filled with my belongings and our wedding gifts. As we walked into her kitchen, she asked me to go to the basement with her. She had canned and made jam for us the previous fall and needed help carrying things upstairs. When we were alone in the basement, I hesitantly asked what I should call her as, up until that time she was Mrs.Thomas. Since we were both now Mrs. Thomas, I knew I could not continue to call her that. She looked at me, and said, “you can call me Marietta, or Etta, or (and she paused) you could call me Mom.” It had been almost 9 years since I had called anyone that name. I looked at her and said, “Okay, Mom.”

As we hugged good-bye to leave for our new life in Virginia, she squeezed me extra hard and that mother-daughter bond was formed.

It has been over thirty years since she passed, but today thoughts of her have flooded my mind. My life has been enriched by the woman who gave me her son.

And then the Rains fell

10 After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth. 11 When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. 12 The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.” Genesis 7:10-12 (NLT)

This is the day after the mid term elections here in the states. Reading my facebook page today I saw many posts talking about fear and disappointment, some angry, some questioning. Interesting news feed today.

In the days leading up to the flood, Noah and his family built an ark. People ridiculed him and his family. They were called names, they were laughed at. Insults were hurled and I imagine that objects also were hurled. Noah stood his ground. He completed his task. He shared what the Lord had told him. He invited his neighbors to join them. He warned them of impending doom. No one listened. They heard what he said. They witnessed what they were building. They saw the animals walk through their towns and villages toward the ark. Yet they did not listen or believe.

Yesterday as Dale and I headed to the polls we prayed. We prayed for the day, the country, the machines. We prayed for the counting. We ended the prayer asking that the Lord’s will be done.

Politically, I am one of those people who are referred to as many things. None of them positive. I have heard many names thrown my way in my life. My height in elementary school was a cause for name calling, Stilts, Legs,Wilt the Stilt, Jolly Green Giant. You get the idea. In elementary school you don’t realize that someday gravity takes over and you then become the incredible shrinking woman.

Personally, in the past couple of years I have had my beliefs questioned and told that how I believe is wrong and that basically I am headed straight to hell.

All of this is nothing. I know what I believe, I know why I do believe in things, in the Lord and in my country. I stand by what I believe. I know that in this day and age, thinking against the flow puts a giant bullseye on you. I wear my bullseye proudly.

For, you see, that little verse that we sing-sang as children comes into play. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but, names will never hurt me.” I gladly hear the names and know that one name will never go away, the name of Christian.

The Bible has talked about this time in the world. What I see happening, watch on the news, hear in conversations, this was all foretold.

Elections come and go. As is human nature, lies are told, falsehoods are given higher standards, cheating and stealing happens. We will all have to answer for any of this. For we are all guilty, not just during elections, but in daily life.

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT)

People can come against you for using the wrong version of the Bible, they can condemn what you watch, they can be full of judgement. It is a sign of the times. We have been told.

Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.” Matthew 24:7 (NLT)

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me. But, like Esther, we were born at this time to live in this time, to face what is happening ~ for such a time as this.

I have hope. Not in the electorate, not in the government, not in humanity. My trust is in my Lord.

Things can change in a world. Elections tend to awaken people to the change happening, and then once aroused from slumber they notice and soon the slumber comes back.

My trust is in God. None of the events of yesterday and of the next few days of haggling and discussing and fighting and recounting has made God wring His perfect hands on His throne. He is constant and true.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NLT)

Veteran’s Day

“Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” Psalm 144:1 (NLT)

When I was in high school I would participate in selling poppies on Veteran’s Day. They weren’t real poppies, but little red flowers that were poppies.

I would stand in front of a store downtown, with poppies in one hand and a can in the other. People passing by would stop, give a donation and take a poppy. Older men would stop, and devoutly take a flower and lovingly put the flower in their lapel.

At the time, I thought it was a weird thing to do, but as I was in a community serving group, we would do this for the local VFW. Some years it was pleasant, and some years the bitter November air would rush down Seneca Street chilling you to the bone.

I knew my Dad and my uncles were all veterans. They all served in the war. They each had stories, that were talked about briefly to each other. There were also hushed tones when they remembered their brother who passed from war wounds.

They were referred to as the greatest generation. To me, as one in high school, I did not realize or understand the depth of what they experienced or endured.

I neglected to ask questions as I didn’t think it was important. I have my Dad’s papers from his time in the service. An uncle who was in the Navy gave me some memorabilia from his time in Subic Bay. As a Navy wife at the time, he felt I would enjoy them. I do.

Veterans write a check with their lives at some point. They serve, they give and they sacrifice. I was broken in easily when I married my sailor. We were together, with no deployments for the first few years of our marriage. We explored the places we went.

We explored Japan, we had our time together to see places my uncles fought against. We lived in occupation era housing along with the bugs and rats and brick bathtubs. We relished each day we were together. I began to understand the military.

It wasn’t until the early 80’s that I began to truly realize what sacrifice and deployment meant.

This photo taken the day Dale returned after eight and a half months, sealed forever what sacrifice is. Not just for the veteran, but, for the families. His expression at seeing his daughter after such a long time brings tears to my eyes still. I was standing out of view with our youngest in my arms. It was his first meeting his baby girl who was five months old.

In case I might have forgotten the meaning of what a veteran is, our daughter, pictured above became a Navy wife. She endured several deployments with a baby, like her Mom. He is now a Veteran. Having served honorably and sacrificed much, he is celebrating his second Veteran’s Day.

We owe a debt to these brave men and women. They have accomplished things that we will never hear about. They will talk to brothers in arms with the same hushed tones that my uncles did.

Today and for the next couple of days I will remember my Dad, my uncles, knowing what they accomplished on the fields in World War II. I will once more look at Dale and see that young man who swept me off on a life of adventure, and I will pray for my son in law as he continues to adjust to civilian life.

Warriors sign a blank check. The world and powers write what is owed. Our Savior understands what these men and women accomplished, as He too, came down to earth to pay the ultimate price that we may be saved. Today, look around you and truly see what is surrounding you. Freedom comes at a very high price.

Without Wrinkle

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Ephesians 5:25-27 (NLT)

This Saturday a neighbor’s son is getting married. A few weeks ago, I offered a helping hand in anything that might be needed. Having put together things for a wedding, I know the lists can be long and towards the end of the planning you find you may be a few hands short of help.

My neighbor graciously took me up on the offer in the form of pressing some tablecloths. She didn’t give me many, but since I do love to iron, I was excited to be able to help out.

I love ironing. There are few tasks around the home that give instant gratification. Cleaning toilets, washing windows and ironing. You do a bit of work and you see instant results. It’s wonderful.

I also know that even in the little things my Lord teaches me things. I did pray over the tablecloths. I prayed for the people who would be sitting at the tables. I prayed for the bride and groom, for their life together, for being used of the Lord as a couple, for the parents who are gaining a family member to love.

Also, as I was pressing out wrinkles, I felt the Lord speak to me. As I looked at a bunched up wrinkled mass in the middle of one cloth, I heard, this is what you looked like when you first accepted Me into your life. I paused ironing to look at the jumble of wrinkles, wondering how this was like me.

The Lord continued, that although I had asked Him to be my Lord and Savior, I still had a bunch of stuff attached to my life. Compassionately, through the years, my Lord has taken His spiritual iron and has slowly and evenly pressed me. Each wrinkle, as it has disappeared has given me freedom, or joy, or redemption, or peace,or healing. Each time a new wrinkle appears, I know our Lord is there, being merciful and loving toward me.

The ironing went fast for me, partly because I love to iron, but mostly because I was able to talk with my Lord and like the Good Shepherd He is, He gently spoke to me, knowing His voice is the One I long to hear and learn from.

Have a Nice Rest

“I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’” Hosea 10:12 (NLT)

Several times I have commented on the season of fall and the leaves changing colors and falling. The past couple of days the leaves are no longer dancing, anxious to leave the trees and spiral out and away. The leaves now are falling, floating quietly, almost reluctantly, to land on the blanket of leaves covering our yard.

It is like the trees, knowing that times of frost, cold and snow are approaching and with the leaves gone, there is no covering for the branches. So, they, too, are holding fast to the remaining leaves, hesitantly letting them fall.

The ground is newly covered in a blanket. This blanket will remain and turn to mulch and nutrients for the ground. Sleep well, ground. Rest this winter absorbing all you can from the blanket of leaves now and soon the blanket of snow. Rest easy, rest well. For in the spring you will bloom with daffodils in white and yellow, hyacinths in pink and purple and irises in vibrant deep purples and burgundy.

How often do we get covered up in preparation for a new season of our lives? Do we kick off that blanket that has been positioned on us by our Creator? Do we miss opportunities of deep seasons of growth in our lives? What if we, like the ground, readily accepted a blanket falling from above? Could we remain as it were, dormant?

I think that spring is so glorious because all we have lived with is brown for a season. Except for a bit of snow, which eventually turns black around the edges, we see no brightness through the winter. Then, after being dormant, we see a shoot of green peaking out of the hard ground. Soon a crocus. Then days later the yard is blanketed with wild spring flowers, rejoicing in the spring day.

As I have watched this fall unfold before me I have been challenged to make the most of the winter months of my life. I know spring will appear, it is my prayer, though, that my spring growth will bring glory to my God.

Sisters

I just looked up quotes on sisters. I thought that would be a nice way to start off this post. Unfortunately they were all saccharine sweet and I could see both of my sisters roll their eyes, followed by a , “yeh, right.” I could see that because that is what I just did.

I love my sisters. They center me and keep me grounded. After all, when you grow up with siblings your life is pretty much bare before them. It’s all fair play.

I can remember my older sister giving us encouraging talks while walking to school after our Mom died. She kept us going, she kept up our spirits. She was our cheerleader.

I also remember going into her closet after she left for high school and we still had time before my younger sister and I had to leave for our school. Her make up was free game, along with any sweaters that I could sneak on, like her pink mohair sweater.

My younger sister and I shared a room, and a bed. If one of us cried the other had the shoulder to lean on. If thunder and lightening scared one, the other was strong, even if they really weren’t inside.

I taught my younger sister to climb a tree, forgot to tell her how to get back down. We all went to movies that we didn’t tell our Dad we went to, (Bond movie, Godfather movie). We each had secrets that we shared.

Yes, one of those quotes would be nice and sweet, but the truth is that sisters (or any siblings) are much greater than a quote you can read.

My sisters could drive me crazy, I could drive them crazy. We could fight like cats and dogs, but no one better say anything about either of my sisters.

As a child, I could never figure out how my parents could be so close to my aunts and uncles.I know now, they were siblings, they knew where scars came from, how windows were broken, who ate the last piece of cake, and why things were thrown out.

Recently in one of our sister posts, I asked my younger sister a question, it made her laugh and the two older ones, we laughed. God gives us lots of gifts through a life time. I think sisters are both a precious gift and part gag gift, we know how to push buttons and make jabs that should not be made.

Today is my older sister’s birthday. The older she gets the more I love her. Yes, I do realize that the older she gets, the older I am. Our younger sister is still the baby of the family, so although she is only two years younger than me, in our minds we feel we must protect her. Plus, when I see her in my mind, she is just out of college.

My sisters have been in my heart so much lately. I am so grateful for them and for the lives we have had together and apart. Happy Birthday dearest Dottie. I wouldn’t be me without you.

Stay Classy

Fifteen years ago as Dale and I were driving to meet friends for dinner, he announced that we would be moving. As I was the one driving in rush hour traffic on a Friday night, this was a shock to my system, especially since I almost missed our exit.

At that point, we had lived in San Diego for 25 years. We had raised our daughters there, we had had many experiences there. After hyperventilating on the freeway, I got us to the parking lot of the restaurant. I sat there looking at my husband, only able to ask, “What?”.

As we kept our friends waiting in the restaurant, Dale slowly explained what his day had held. He had had a very busy day with lots of news for him professionally. I sat holding on to the steering wheel trying to absorb what he was saying.

We were going to move, to the east coast, after 25 years. We went into the restaurant and broke the news to our friends. I still remember the conversations, the shock I felt and the anticipation that was growing in me.

The move didn’t happen right away, but it was looming in front of us. During the time of waiting, the Lord taught me many things. I was surprised that I had more than a few moments of panic at the thought of leaving. I did not expect that. We had never planned on being in California for that long. But, as I have relayed before, the Lord told us in 1982 that we would be in San Diego until He was done with us there.

As the move was delayed often, I always told others that I would believe we were moving when I say the big moving van back down our driveway.

Today, on my facebook memories I saw this, “on this day 13 years ago, After two years, the big truck backed down my driveway today… I believe it’s time to go. Stay Classy San Diego….”

I smiled to myself. I had gone to the store to get water and snacks for the day. Our house was visible from the road below coming from the store. I glanced up towards home and there, sitting in our driveway was a big moving van.

In some ways, that day seems like it happened yesterday. Sometimes it seems like we have always been here. It’s funny how memories are like that.

The Lord did move us. He orchestrated the time, the move, the lessons learned while living in our home overlooking the freeway and San Diego bay. For 24 of those years He provided beautiful sunsets out my kitchen window. The sky painted differently over the view of the Coronado bridge.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16;9 (NKJV)

For years I had longed for the east coast. I wanted to see seasons change. I wanted to be on the same side of the country where I was born and grew up. I did not want to grow old in San Diego.

“I” wanted many things. The Lord had a plan and in His time, He saw those plans through. We often want to rush those plans the Lord has for us. His timing is the perfect timing though. San Diego held so many trials and problems and tests for us. We were weary of it all. Now, thirteen years later, I look back and thank God for all we experienced while living there. Friends, sunsets and food is all missed. Once more the scrapbook in my mind of our life in San Diego is always available. I can open it up, remember and be thankful for all we experienced there with our Savior.

God is so good. He is faithful and just. I will rest in His plans.

He became Man

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

God, the Son, became man. What an impossible thing to fathom. The Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit were at the beginning of time. They created the world. According to my catechism, God always was and always will be. They created man in their image. Everything around us wasn’t until They spoke.

So, the Son of God, Immanuel, the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus was born. He came into this world as we all did. He was born. He left the glory of heaven, gave up that power and authority to become a baby. A baby who depended on His earthly parents to care for Him. Feed Him, clothe Him, change His diapers, take care of diaper rash. Everything a baby experiences, the Son of God experienced.

I would like to think teething for Him was not as hard as other babies, but, He did come into this world to experience all that we have. He played outside. He fell and skinned His knees. He was most likely pushed down by other kids. His siblings wondered why Jesus was a favorite maybe.

Wrapping my head around these things can lead me in many directions. He knew what it was like to be hungry. He knew what it was like to be yelled at by others, to be ridiculed, to joke around. When rain came he most likely played in the rain as a child, splashing in puddles and get muddy. When it was cold, He felt the chill.

He suffered loss. His earthly father died, which left Him, the oldest, to care for His family. He felt that responsibility. He worked, He cleaned up after work. He felt sore and tired after a good day’s work.

He had family and cousins. He had to be at the “kids” table most likely. He most likely had favorite dishes to eat.

He was like us except for the sin part of our lives. He knew no sin until He went to the cross to suffer and die for our sins, my sins. “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NLT)

Often we hesitate to draw near to God. We think that He wouldn’t care about things in our lives. That He is much too busy with other bigger things than us. That He would not understand what we are going through. This is not true. He calls you by name. He knows exactly what we are going through. He understands what it is like to be in this world and to deal with this world. Nothing is too difficult for Him. God the Son came down from heaven to live here, experience life here and to give up His life for our sins. I think we can trust Him with our lives today.

“teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)

Wednesday Night WOW

Each Wednesday night our church has a service. It is a precious time of fellowship with the people who come. A different person teaches weekly, so each week is a delight and a discovery. I love this time together.

Tonight as we were getting ready to drive to the church I mentioned to Dale that I thought I would rather just put on my jammies and head to bed. I felt cold and tired and done with the day. I should have known better.

The woman who taught tonight opened with a bang and kept going. To say my heart was blessed is an understatement.

She opened with how the Lord talked to her, she merely said, He called me by name. Just in that statement I could have gone home refreshed. Our Lord does call us by name. He knows each of us intimately and He knows our name. He has called me Cathi numerous times and I smile. He has called me Mary and somehow it sounds endearing and intimate. My name from His lips is beautiful. It strips away all the angst I have with my first name. To hear Him call me by my name is at once reassuring and safe.

This woman went on to say that after calling her by name, our Lord spoke to her and urged her to use her time well. I know these aren’t her exact words, but, this is what seeped deeply into me. Use my time well. Do I do that? Sometimes, but sometimes not. She urged those in the sanctuary to ask the Lord for divine appointments, you know when you run into someone and somehow the conversation turns toward heaven and you know the Lord is in the middle of the conversation.

After she finished there was a discussion time and I continued to be moved by the words spoken by others around me. Our pastor encouraged us to not think of our lives as insignificant. That hit me directly in my heart. I have always viewed and relayed to others that my life, my words on a page are not major, that I, in the midst of all the more educated and seasoned writers am pretty tiny. I have yearned to do great things for my Savior. I long to reach so many with words of encouragement and words of salvation in our Lord.

Pastor continued saying that we are not insignificant, because we are living now, in one of the hardest and darkest times in the world. I was reminded how in the book of Esther, her uncle Mordecai requested that she go to her husband, the king and ask for deliverance for her people, the Jews. She hesitated and her uncle said this to her, 13 Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:13 (NLT)

When we were chosen to be alive for this time in the world, it was for a time and a purpose. We may not understand what the purpose is, but God, who calls us by name, knows.

I walked out of church this evening with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. No matter how small and insignificant I may feel, the Lord has a purpose for me, that perhaps I AM here for such a time as this.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

I am going to ask the Lord how to wisely use my time that I am here, ask for those divine appointments, those conversations where our Lord joins in.

After all, He knows my name. He knows your name also.

Pain

I have many friends who are currently experiencing some sort of pain. Emotional, physical, mentally, and grief.

I would like in each case to just pray and see it all go away. POOF! It’s gone. But, the Lord does not work that way.

I saw a meme today about changing the past, but if you do that, you do not learn the lessons given through our previous experiences.

Our Lord has a purpose and a plan for our lives. We don’t always understand. We question and we wonder.

But God…

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139: 1-5 (NLT)