No Regrets

My mind has been scattered this afternoon. I sit here at my desk and ask the Lord what I should write. I do this each time I sit to write a post on my blog. To the right of me on the desktop are books, varied in interest. My desk is in our guest room so the books are there for whoever stays long enough to sit and read.

My thoughts are cluttered as I think about some conversations I have had, to what to take to the church potluck on Sunday, to wondering how our granddaughter is doing with her broken wrist. Like they say, women have spaghetti for brains, one thought touches another, touches another.

To the left of me on my desk are my journals. I go to them for ideas and memories many times.

Today I picked up one from 1993. I read an entry from November 8th. My Dad passed away suddenly on November 6th, 1993. The entry described the events leading up to Dad’s death, describing my last conversation with him. At the time, I felt it was important to chronicle this. I am so glad that I did. At the end of the passage I wrote the following, “I have no regrets”.

Family relationships are complicated. Even though my sisters and I were raised in the same house by the same father, we are each unique. We sometimes don’t understand one another, we can still squabble at times. But, there is a bond deeper than we can understand. It is the bond of family. We are knit together by something none of us can explain. The same holds true to our Dad. Each of us can see things so differently about him. We can remember things differently.

I knew at the time of my Dad’s death that there would come a time when I would question that last conversation with him. I would wonder if I had said enough, had I said too much or too little. I knew that regret may follow maybe not immediately, but time afterwards. That is why I wrote no regrets.

I have read that part of my journal many times. Sometimes they are just words. Today they hit me almost 29 years later. Again, I think it is that unexplained thread that holds families together.

My sisters and I each live in a different state. When we were little we thought that we would live close to one another, maybe next door or at least a block or two away. We have each settled miles from one another. We don’t see each other often. We talk, but not every day or even weekly. But, that bond. The bond that keeps us connected, keeps us together.

Father, I thank You today for my sisters. Thank You for the shared experiences and those that we went through alone. Father, I ask that You rain down blessing upon blessings for my sisters. May they find comfort, solace, courage and strength today. Keep them in the fold of Your arms. Thank you for placing our family together, You have had a plan and a purpose for all of us, let us live without regrets. Amen.

My Three Mothers

“Direct your children onto the right path,
    and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Most people have one mother. I was blessed to have three women whom I consider a mother to me.

The first, Elizabeth, gave birth to me. She taught me how to walk, eat, when to sleep, talk. She gave me life and I like to think my sense of humor. She would talk with me while sitting on our porch, she encouraged me to write. She truly gave me roots and wings. She moved to heaven when I was eleven. She established me in this world.

My second mother was really my older sister, Dottie. She was fifteen when our mother passed away. Her childhood was cut short. She became the mother figure to both myself and my younger sister. She guided me through my teen years, giving me insight and ideas. We didn’t always see eye to eye, and I often wonder if my mother had survived cancer, if we would have gotten along. Maybe it was my obstinate ways that caused conflict. Dottie was there for me in heartbreaks and victories in school and she cheered me on the days that looked bleak. I would not have had the experiences I did in high school had it not been for her.

I married young. When I first started dating Dale, his mother did not like me. She made that fact well known. Eventually, though, we both softened in our approach to each other. She didn’t have a daughter and I didn’t have a Mom, so together we planned our wedding, giving her the experience of a daughter and me having a Mom to share the excitement with.

My mother-in-law, Marietta, became a Naomi to my Ruth. “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.” Ruth 1:16 (NLT) When she moved to heaven, grief for her was what I experienced as an eleven year old.

I have been fortunate to have the love and encouragement of three beautiful women in my life. They have taught me to grow, to learn, to accept and respect. I thank my Lord for each of them.

Easter Monday

Have you ever had a day that you dread? Easter Monday is that day for me. Somehow, as a growing child I would have mishaps on that day.

I can remember my parents saying they were going to tie me in my bed so that no harm could come to me. Of course, they were joking.

Two incidents come to mind quickly when I see Easter Monday approaching. The first required an emergency room visit. My sisters and I were off school, watching mid-morning television, eating our Easter basket goodies and drinking pop (soda, coke, sody-pop, soft drink I have heard them all). Our mother was on the phone talking with a friend. My older sister asked me to go get her more to drink. I said no. She knew I would do it anyway, so she tossed her glass at me. Neither of us thought anything would happen. But, somehow the glass hit just the right way on my knee and exploded, sending chards into my knee. We both panicked and we didn’t want Mom to know what had happened. We slid by her, and went to the bathroom, I am certain she noticed that blood was running down my leg, but we were determined. As my sister was attempting to place band-aids over my knee, our Mother appeared in the bathroom door. I then went to the emergency room where our family physician removed the glass and commented that they were very pretty. They were blue and white glasses. I am certain we were corrected, but we were just being kids.

A few years went by. It was evening on Easter Monday. My sisters and I were outside, shoe-less of course. Again, my older sister asked me to go get her shoes, so she could investigate something. I obliged and ran down our sidewalk in the back of our house. I don’t know how, but, somehow I tripped, slid across the cemented back porch and the aluminum screen door stopped me, but not before I dented in the bottom part of the door with my head. No emergency room visit that time, but no school the next day either.

I occasionally hear about my adventures on Easter Monday, but it is few and far between. In jest I was referred to as Grace. All legs and feet and no coordination.

I smile as I write these memories. I can still recall the glass being removed and the doctor and my Mom laughing at our antics. I can still remember being stopped by screen door and hearing my Dad say, she dented my door.

These are the things that make parents go grey. They are also the stuff of great memories.

“And do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NLT)

Did we sisters do everything in love? No, of course not. We are a real family. But, we are fiercely devoted to one another, we have each other’s back. The Lord created our family. It was not always easy for us, but, we survived and flourished. Today I would not run to get her shoes, but I would most likely trip at some point. Grace still exists, but now I pass it off to old age.

Resident Aliens

“We are strangers, we are aliens, we are not of this world” Petra

In early June of 1976 we boarded a plane at San Francisco International airport. We were heading to Japan. I had never taken an international trip before and had no idea what was in store for me. I was scared and apprehensive of what the next three years held for me. I was also excited for a new adventure with my husband of of 17 months. Together we found our seats, and buckled up for our trip.

Several hours later I looked out to see brilliant blue waters below me. We were descending to land. I looked over to Dale (my husband) and asked if we were there already. He smiled and said, “No dear, we are in Honolulu” . I had no idea that the flight would be so long. We had a 45 minute layover there and I said I wanted to breathe Hawaiian air. At that time we could get off the plane and go outside, no security checks, no TSA, just a terminal with doors to go through. We walked outside and smelled the fresh Hawaiian air. Something I thought I would never do. We came back inside and bought an ice cream bar from a vending machine. Vending machines were the only thing that was available, no restaurants like we have now. We got back to our seats ready for the next leg of our journey. That has been my only Hawaiian adventure.

The plane itself was filled mostly with military folks going to a new duty station. We were all young, early twenties and some ‘older folks’ who were in their thirties. There was a party atmosphere on the plane as one of the wineries in California had provided wine for the second leg of the trip. As we drew near to Japan airspace the crowd in the plane was in full tilt party mode. We had all had wine, we had a buffet, we were becoming friends.

It was a rainy evening when we touched down at Haneda airport in Tokyo. We taxied to a stop and the plane grew silent. We had landed and reality hit us all. We had filled out the forms for what we were bringing into the country, and we were ready to head to customs. At the door of the plane, I hesitated, afraid of the next step. Dale gave me a gentle nudge and I started down the stairs. We stood on the tarmac and looked at the signs. Both were in Kanji with English translation below. The first sign said ‘residents’ the second ‘aliens’. Everyone hesitated. Here we were aliens. We did not belong to this country. This was not our home. I will never forget that feeling. I knew I would be there for three years. The bottom line was I wanted to go home. I wanted to see my sisters. I needed to see them. I needed reassurance and hugs. Instead, my husband held out his hand and guided me into the terminal. The first step, done.

Obviously, we made it through customs and met our sponsor from the base who greeted us and got us to our final destination, Yokosuka. Our sponsor became a dear friend who got us settled and ready for what would become one of the greatest adventure of my life.

It was in Japan that I would become a born-again Christian. It was there that I began to realize that we are all aliens on this earth. Our true home for those of us who trust our Lord with our lives, is in Heaven. We are just passing through. We are resident aliens.

II Corinthians 5:1-5 says, “For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.” (the Message)