Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggy Vacation

I'll be away for a while.

There are wishes to wish

and new friends to make

and princesses to become

I'll be back soon. Until then, be blessed!

They Gave Away My Red Shoes

This is a story I have been writing for a long time. The May writing contest at Scribbit's place encouraged me to finish it. Here is my entry.


“Talk to her,” her exasperated daughter said. “She’s totally unreasonable!”

I tentatively knocked on her door. Inside I could hear her. Unreasonable? No. Inconsolable? Yes. I sat by her bed and listened to her sob. Finally, there was a break in her cries.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“They even gave away my red shoes!” she blurts out. The sobs returned.

This sweet little lady had just come to the nursing facility where I worked. She was recovering from a devastating stroke that left her immobile. Her well-meaning daughters had cleared out her house and given most of her things to charity. They had given her little choice in what to keep. Instead of saving her the heartache of decisions, they had unknowingly triggered this immense grief.

When the sobs subsided, I said, “Tell me about the red shoes.”

“They were my dancing shoes.” Her eyes got that far-off look.

“Do you like to dance?”

“I loved to dance. I met my husband at a dance. Whirling dresses. Clicking heels. The thrill of being twirled around.” She smiled for the first time since she had arrived.

“Did you dance often?”

“We went dancing every weekend. Well , that is until the babies came. Then we couldn’t go because they needed us. When they grew up, we started dancing again. Down at the VFW Hall. Big band, ballroom, we loved it all.” She paused. She took a breath. “I haven’t danced since Al died. That was eight years ago.” Tears started to fill her eyes.

“And the red shoes?”

“I wore them the last time we danced. I was still beautiful when I wore them. “ Her voice trailed off.

We sat in silence.

Then, angrily “I hate getting old!” More quietly, she said, “I’ll always be old.”

“They gave away my red shoes.
I’ll never dance again.
I’ll always be old.”

picture by jeltvoski,

edited to add: I am humbled that this was judged as an honorable mention piece. It is a story close to my heart. I am thrilled it touched so many of you. Blessings!
The Write-Away Contest hosted by Scribbit

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

In Other Words--Time in the Desert Place

I know that I'm a day late for Tuesday's In Other Words, but I made it! Actually Monday was a holiday here in the UK, so in essence yesterday was Monday and today is Tuesday. At least that it how it feels since yesterday I was doing all of Monday's chores in addition to trying to cram 5 days of school planning into a 4 day week. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. Hosea 2:14

For a long time I missed the point of the desert place in terms of spiritual growth. I thought that it was a place that I had landed myself in due to sin and rebellion and thus saw the desert as a negative, punitive state. True, there are spiritual droughts that come as a result of sin. But I am beginning to learn that those are different from the desert.

The desert is a place where God draws us to be alone with Him. It is a place of no distraction. A place of focus. And, although a desert place can be very difficult to traverse, it is not a place of punishment. God says to Hosea he will "allure" and "lead" his people. Those are not words of punishment, but of tenderness.

Matthew 4:1 tells us:
"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert."

Before Jesus encountered the tempter, however, he had 40 days of fasting and praying. In other words, he had time of communion with His Father, then the lesson time came. I think the same is true for us. When God leads us into a desert place He wants us to spend time with Him. Yes, the lessons come, but the worship time is sweet.

I no longer look at the desert as a negative. I find the joy that if God is calling me to it, then He is there with me. And there is a definite allure to that!

Father, help me to seek the beauty in the desert when you call me to come. Help me not to see the barren land, but he life you give. I want to follow your leading. In the name of the One who sustains me in the desert, Jesus, Amen.

Heather at Titus 2 Woman is the hostess for this week's In Other Words. I am sure you will be blessed by what others have written.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Marriage Monday--"It's Not a Dating Service" or "I'm Single by Calling and Choice"

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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This month's topic for Marriage Monday is "The Crazy Way We Met".

German's and my meeting was actually pretty normal, but our progress to a life together did have some "crazy" turns here and there.

I moved to Washington after finishing my graduate degree. I had never lived in the Northwest, but I was young, single and had no commitments other than my cat, so it was as good a time to make a huge journey as any. And, there was a nursing home out there crazy enough to offer me the social work job. It was a match seemingly made in heaven. After a year, I realized the job really wasn't for me, but the town of Spokane was. I met with my pastor and we dreamed of starting a single's ministry that would encompass several churches in the area. There was one stipulation to beginning the ministry--it was to minister to spiritual needs, I was not interested in running a dating service. I went home to Texas to spend some time with my grandmother who was ill and weak and to raise some support. Two months later, I would return to Spokane to find a part time job and start half-time at the church.

While I was in Texas, German was transferred by his job from Montgomery Alabama to Spokane. He started attending my church. My first Wednesday night back in town, I can remember sitting on the floor with the pastor, German (who I just met) and a friend/mentor praying for the things that would happen in the ministry over the next few months. Little did I know....

German was instrumental in actually getting the ministry off the ground. He offered his computer skills to put together my slides and presentations. He was a huge encouragement and was fast becoming a good friend. Our pastor and that friend/mentor mentioned earlier took every opportunity to have us do things with their families together. We were pretty oblivious to the matchmaking. We each had some major things that had happened in our lives in the previous year and we were largely just getting our feet back under us.

We had our first kick-off single's conference in early October. It was on the topic of Preparing for the Holidays or other Major Days Alone. I made the statement that I was single "by calling and by choice." I had never really seen myself as getting married or being in a serious relationship, so I was totally content as a single. German now says that although he "wasn't called to be single" he "got the message" and understood that it was "hands off." I was still oblivious.

Through the next couple of months we became closer friends. We would often go out to eat after church rather than be alone. We prayed together, laughed together and played together. We never considered dating. Then, at the church Thanksgiving dinner I happened upon two friends having a "I think they are/I don't think they are" conversation. As I walked up, Ruth said "let's just ask her. Are you and German dating?" I laughed. I assured her we were just friends and couldn't believe anyone would think we were dating. German and I had a good laugh later that evening.

Then came Thanksgiving day. We spent the day with our pastor and his in-laws. German and I took a walk and talked about the things we wanted in our life. I got home and I wrote a long letter to him, that I never expected him to see, that basically said I had fallen totally in love with him and I hadn't seen it coming. Unknown to me, he also was writing a letter that said the same thing. (but that gets ahead of the story). Christmas came and he went to St. Louis for two weeks. I wasn't planning to go home. We talked on the phone every night for 2-3 hours. (Remember we aren't dating!) He made arrangements to come home a few days early (but didn't tell me). My grandmother died New Year's Eve and I left for Texas, as he came back to Spokane. When I got back he collected me at the airport and we spent the day eagle watching at Lake Coeur d'Alene. We now call that our first date. The next day, I took a chance and read him the letter I wrote. Then he took out the letter he had been writing and adding to since Thanksgiving. We decided that we wanted to get married the next Thanksgiving since it was only appropriate.

With a wedding date set in our minds, but not known to anyone else, we felt it was only fitting to "date." German kept saying, "we aren't engaged until you have a ring." He promised I would have a ring before I met his family in July. Memorial Day in Montana mountains (where we spent that Thanksgiving) came and went, no ring. My birthday came and went, no ring. I decided I wasn't getting a ring before we left in 3 weeks. Then one Sunday afternoon (Father's Day 1995), he said let's go for a drive. We drove to the top of Mount Spokane. He proposed and I was totally surprised--I never saw it coming. He had been waiting for the road to the top of the mountain to open. It was the latest opening in years, which is why I hadn't got a ring earlier. But it was perfect.

We finally told people we were planning a Thanksgiving wedding. When I called my dad and said I'm getting married he said, "you're getting what?" My family also never expected me to get married. But God had different plans. We will be married 13 years this November.

And, by the way, we were the only ones in the Singles group to get married. That is something those who were familiar with our "not a dating service" policy take delight in reminding me. God's dating service is always the best.