Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle Of……………..

Before I share this Aaron episode, I must make a disclaimer:

           1.  Gary and I do not drink alcohol.

           2.  Neither does Aaron

           3.  Aaron tends to show extraordinary interest in those things that we do NOT

That being said, this particular event with Aaron took place as we traveled to West Virginia last week to see family.  Gary stopped at a gas station/convenience store to fill up the van.  Aaron asked if he could go in the store to use the restroom.  I stayed outside to organize our mess inside the van and throw trash away.  And so off Aaron lumbered (yes, he lumbers) and disappeared inside the store.  Later, as we drove away down the interstate, Aaron shared his experience inside the store. 

In his words (more or less):  “Hey, when I came out of the bathroom I saw some drinks for sale.  I thought they were the flavored water that I like so I stopped to read the sign.  I couldn’t read all of it and so I had to stand like this.”   He then demonstrated that he completely bent sideways at the waist in order to read the sign.  He continued:  “Then I saw this guy staring at me.  Was he staring at me because I was bent over?”   You know, Aaron, that’s very possible.  And then, “After I finished reading it, it said Strawberry Rum.  It wasn’t flavored water, Mom! But it was pink and I always knew rum to be orangeish.”  And just how do you know that, Aaron?   And in conclusion:  “I didn’t know rum was still out.  I thought beer was the most famous drink now.” 

And so we had to discuss rum and beer and which is the most famous and the various colors.  This fascinated him for quite some time.  I’m sure that the guy inside the store was also fascinated for quite some time as to what he had just seen, and was left wondering if perhaps Aaron had already sampled some of the pink Strawberry Rum.  You’re not alone, sir.  Aaron often leaves us wondering about a lot of things, too!

The Legacy

We just went on a very special trip to visit my mother. Actually, it was a surprise for her 85th birthday. And was she ever shocked when she walked into that banquet room at the steak house and saw all of her five children there, as well as many grandchildren and great-grands! The look on her face was priceless; the tears, hers and ours, were genuine; and the love shared was a treasure. I’m so thankful that all of her children were there for her and that we got to rally around her at this very important time. You see, it wasn’t only her birthday. She has also just moved into an assisted living center and so we were able to visit her beautiful new home, help her with a little of the settling-in process, and get a close-up look at her lovely surroundings and amazing staff.

One other thing we kids did while we were there was to meet at the home she just vacated. This home isn’t the place where she and Dad raised us five children. They sold our family home in 1996 in order to downsize and make their lives simpler as they aged. Through Dad’s two cancers, and two more moves, they continued to downsize a little more with each change. Now as I walked into the garage where many of her smaller items were sitting in boxes or on shelves, perched on chairs, or leaning against the walls, I was determined to approach this as objectively as possible. Even in the kitchen and the living room I was able to remain composed. However, when I walked into the bedroom and began to help take clothes out of her closet, I was overcome with emotion. This was the last home that she and Dad had shared together. This was where I had spent the last month of his life as I helped Mom care for him. Memories of that month, especially, washed over me. Mom is now living in a place that Dad never got to share with her. The change in her life is striking, and the end of one chapter is really the beginning of the last chapter of her life.

It would be easy to look at the “stuff” in the garage and scattered throughout the house and think, “Is this all there is now?” As we children divide the casserole dishes and Tupperware that she’ll never use again, or discuss what will become of the larger items later on, is there something of more value to my parent’s lives than just “stuff?” Eventually, Mom will perhaps have to downsize even further if she moves into the nursing care section. Bit by bit, her life is being sifted of all earthly belongings. Eventually, she’ll be left with absolutely nothing. On the day that her body ceases to live and her soul is in heaven, she will not take even one little spoon or one little memento with her. And what will matter on that day?

What will matter the most is that my mother knows Jesus Christ as her Savior. She has the confidence, as do her family, that she will join Jesus and my Dad in heaven. And we, her children, have the legacy of a godly heritage left to us by parents who dearly loved the Lord and dearly loved their family. While earthly items are divided, our godly heritage is safe in each of our hearts and homes. Now this heritage, this legacy, is being multiplied as we have tried to raise our children to know and love the Lord. There is no earthly value that could ever be placed on such a spiritual treasure! No executor of an estate ever oversaw a will that held anything more important than this God-honoring example that our parents have left to us. This legacy isn’t an item that will be put on a shelf in our homes to later be divided among our children, but is carried in our hearts and hopefully lived by our example and passed to our children each day of our lives. Thank you, Mom and Dad. You have left us rich indeed.

Taking a Trip – Aaron Style

Lest you wonder if I’ve run away or decided to give up on blogging – nope!  I am not so easily deterred from my new venture.  Actually, Gary and I have taken a trip to West Virginia and North Carolina.  We went to celebrate my sweet little Mother’s 85th birthday by joining my 4 siblings and many other extended family in a surprise party for her.  Then on to see Gary’s family in the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  I’ll have more to say on all that later, but we do have Aaron with us on this trip.  He loves to go with us!  He sits behind us in the van, surrounded by snacks, listening on his CD player to the Four Tops, or watching a movie about giant space alien aircraft landing on earth.  What’s not to like?!

Then Gary and I are his captive audience, listening to his stories or answering his many questions.  And hearing him say, “I’m not asking when we’re going to stop to eat lunch.”  And maybe 15 minutes later, “See, I haven’t asked when we’re going to stop for lunch.”  Awhile later, “Are you glad I haven’t asked when we’re going to eat lunch?”  For crying out loud, Aaron, JUST ASK AND GET IT OVER WITH!!!!   Of course, his first question as we planned this trip was, “Are we taking snacks and stopping at restaurants?”  And as we drove from the house, “Are you taking that thing that talks?”  Which one, Aaron. You or the GPS?

Lessons From the Toad

I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I watered one of our back flower beds on a very hot afternoon. I wasn’t sure what it was that had drawn my attention and so I leaned down slightly to see what had created the slight movement that I had seen. And there he was, with his head and half of his body sticking out of his little underground home. A small toad! So now I knew what had been living in that mysterious hole that had been dug in the mulch among the pink Coneflowers. I was very relieved that it wasn’t a huge spider, for one thing, and I also thought that this wee fellow was pretty cute. As I gently sprayed the flowers in the summer heat, my small toad neighbor just stayed where he was. And as he sat there with a little mound of fresh dirt on his head, I observed some toad behavior that I had never seen before. He lifted his head slightly as the water softly fell on him and then shook his head a bit. He blinked his eyes but didn’t seem bothered by the water that fell over his face. In fact, I thought that he was enjoying the cool shower that was cascading over his hot, bumpy body. It certainly was a very stifling day and I could imagine that he was pleasantly relieved at this unexpected relief from the dryness and the heat.

As I watched my toad’s reaction to the cool water, I thought of the times in my life that I have felt completely worn out and depleted from the heat of life’s unrelenting ups and downs. At times I have felt dried up and burnt from the stresses that this life can bring. It seems that there is no relief as day after day of disappointments or worries beat down upon my unprotected head. Yet in my heart I know where relief can be found. I can say with David in Psalm 63:1 – “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, My flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Meeting God in His Word and in prayer is where my cool, refreshing relief is to be found. He is there to quench my thirst and His Word is there to revive my dry, parched soul. Then I can say along with the Psalmist, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your Word has revived me.” (Psalm 119:50) I want to let the refreshment that God offers me wash over my spirit. I want to lift my head, blink my eyes in wonder and praise, and let His Word revive me so that when the heat is on, my soul is calm and my spirit is renewed. Thank you, dear Lord, for the little bumpy toad You sent my way!

Lessons From the Weeds and Bugs

I knew I couldn’t ignore the vegetable garden any longer. I hadn’t really been ignoring it, but very muddy soil from several hard rains and my busy schedule had kept me from being able to tackle what I knew needed to be done. I had walked out to the garden daily; had stood outside the perimeter and looked at the mess inside; had thought and planned and observed from a distance – but now it was time for action. And so with hoe and rake and buckets and pruning shears, I put on my gloves, stepped over the low fence, and began the work.
I yanked and pulled and hoed with a vengeance, racing to beat the dark clouds that were on the horizon. My garden was so cluttered and ugly from all the storm damage and the inattention. The work was going fairly quickly, but then I stopped and stared down at the cucumbers and squash and tomatoes in their cages. That job was going to be slower because I had to be careful not to jerk up the roots of the vegetables in the process of pulling out the weeds. It meant getting on my knees and carefully culling out the weeds. One by one I had to pull them carefully from the soil and dump them in the bucket. It gave me a chance to tenderly inspect each plant for damage. That’s when I also saw the bugs. They, along with the determined weeds, were seeking opportunity to take over and destroy my vegetables. My battered veggies were easy prey for these pests. My garden plants not only needed a good weeding, but they also need a healthy dose of bug spray and an energizing shot of fertilizer.
Likewise, I am much the same as my distressed vegetables. The trials and storms of life have at times left me very vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. How easy it is when I’m beaten down, tired, and discouraged to listen to someone else’s voice other than the calm and loving voice of my Lord. Sin can enter so easily and grow so quickly, like weeds and bugs. Satan loves to plant negative thoughts in my mind and get me to focus on my situation rather than on God and His Word. Sins such as pride, bitterness (that’s a big one!), unforgiveness, gossip – I could go on and on – grow like weeds in my heart and crawl around my thoughts like unwelcome bugs. It takes a good dose of God’s Word daily and energizing prayer to Him to keep me where I need to be, especially when I’m battered and bruised from the storms of life. David said in Psalm 1:2 that we should “meditate day and night” on Your Word – which means to live life in accordance to God’s Word. So even when I don’t feel like it I need to climb in the garden of my soul, yank and hoe and rake, and sometimes just get on my knees and pull away the sins which so easily weigh me down and destroy my roots. Only then will I be able to “yield fruit in its season” and prosper like God desires.

The Bedroom

When Aaron was a student at the Day School, Tom (his teacher) would have tea times with Aaron.  They called it “Tea With Tom.”  Tom and Aaron would drink tea and just talk.  Isn’t that amazing?  That’s just one example of what an awesome teacher and person that Tom is.  Anyway, when Aaron was getting ready to graduate Tom said that he wanted to have one more time of  “Tea With Tom.”  The seniors had finished attending classes, so Tom came to our house for tea.  Gary had to work, so it was only me at home with Aaron.  They invited me to join them for tea and I eagerly agreed.

I have to explain that off of our kitchen, down a couple little stairs, is a short hallway with a bathroom on the right and a guest bedroom at the end of the hall.  Gary had a bad cold at this time and in order not to bother me at night with his coughing, he had been sleeping for several nights in that guest bedroom. 

Back to “Tea With Tom.”  We sat at the kitchen table, Tom and Aaron and I, sipping our tea and talking.  Mostly listening to Aaron talk.  Finally Tom looked at me and asked if he could use our bathroom.  I pointed down the little hallway to show him where it was.  He then saw the extra bedroom and said, “Oh, I see you all have a guest bedroom here.”   And my dear Aaron quickly replied, “Yeah, that’s where my dad sleeps.  He doesn’t sleep with my mom anymore.”  Again, where is a sinkhole when you need it?  So I started to explain, and Tom smiled and told me I didn’t need to say anything, and I said that yes I do need to say something, and it’s all kind of a blur.  Aaron could tell that his statement had created a reaction and he thought it was all great fun.  If we had a doghouse, that’s where HE would have been sleeping!