Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hawaii Five-O

As I was driving home tonight, I heard the Hawaii Five-O theme song on the radio. I smiled soooo big. It took me a few seconds to realize why this song made me smile. Besides liking the old tv series, I also remember my high school band played this song a lot. (I cannot remember, however, if the Misses had a routine to this.)
Since Todd died, memories like this have a special place for me because pretty much my entire adult life was intertwined with his. Fond memories from high school and freshman year of college have a special sweetness all their own because he was not part of my life then…so they don't have the bittersweet taste of the many fond memories from the years after. So…any of you 1981 Murrah Mustangs out there, hum along with me (du du du du dun dun…du du du duuunnnn ;-)

Next Day
Well...today, guess what  I heard?  (and this will only be good to any vintage Murrah Misses out there) "Get Ready" by The Temptations. How funny.  I started thinking "tap, swivel, hook, push" before I could stop myself.  How is that I can remember that piece of totally useless information, but I cannot remember where I last laid my car keys? 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Aunt Shirley

Todd's Aunt Shirley died this week. Todd's folks lived overseas when we were dating, so I think I actually met Shirley before I met his parents. I immediately liked her. She had a beautiful smile and was easy to talk to. She loved Todd much, and, of course, she was heartbroken like the rest of us when he died. For my kids, she has been another connection to their daddy. She would tell them funny stories about their daddy and his cousins (her 2 boys). In my mind, I can hear her laughing as she recounted some mischief Todd, Chase and Eric had gotten into…or a story of some mischief she had gotten into with her big sister (Todd's mom) when growing up ;-)

The day she died, I had something happen that I know would have made her smile. I thought about it the following day, and it comforted me to know that she would have approved.

As I was getting ready to go to the funeral home tonight, I felt a panic rising up inside me. Just family and one set of close friends were gathering to spend time together and sort of say personal goodbyes…so similar to the gathering we had 2.5 years ago…and the memories washed over me and I was scared I would lose it. I don't mind crying, but this wasn't the time for a total meltdown. It was okay though. I really felt Todd and Shirley both in my heart—in a good way. Almost like together they were holding us in their hearts with smiles, laughter, compassion (for our pain), and, of course, love.

The main service is tomorrow. I hope everyone there will feel surrounded by smiles, laughter, compassion and love.

Good Things

January 22, 2011

The kids and I are doing well.  Our little family is thriving.  We still yell and kick and scream (okay, so that is mostly me ;-), but we are pretty quick to recover.  Actually, I have not been yelling and kicking and screaming so much these days, and that is a very good thing.  Yeah!  

As I was singing in a church I was visiting,  I was thinking about several friends who are dealing with serious issues.  They were singing too.  I thought about how amazing it is that we are all there together, singing, pouring out our hearts--our sickness, grief and joy.  How amazing it is that we can stand together and bind up each other as we journey together.  What a gift to share in someone's joy or sorrow.   We may not be able to make their pain go away or change their circumstances, but we can sometimes lessen the pain or increase the joy just by being present.  We--every single one of us--possess such powerful and amazing gifts and capacities.  May each of us recognize and use them wildly and with abandon this week.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

So Simple

What you are doing I cannot do, what I'm doing you cannot do, but together we are doing soemthing beautiful for God, and this is the greatness of God's love for us-

Mother Teresa

 I can sure complicate this simple idea. 


Monday, January 9, 2012

The Good in Us

Since I was a child, I have loved reading The Chronicles of Narnia books. I have enjoyed them as an adult every bit as much as when I first read them, and I have loved sharing them with my children. I still cry almost every time I read about Lucy and Susan watching as the White Witch humiliates and slays Aslan (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) on the stone table, and rejoice with them when they realize that Aslan has overcome death.

It will be no big surprise, then, that I am no particular fan of the movie versions. However, there is something about the battle scenes that always gets me…with a lump in my throat and often, tears too. I am sure you know the emotion. It is not joy. It is not sadness. It is something that comes from that which is best in you being challenged to show itself. A knowing that there is goodness and strength and courage in this world. And a knowing that there is a Source for it.

My favorite scene in Peter Jackson's film version of The Fellowship of the Ring is Gandalf banging his staff and thunderously proclaiming "You shall not pass" when he is up against the (bog?) creature in the caves. He is not thinking of himself at all…in fact, he is nowhere to be found on his own radar. He is simply responding to the situation from the depths of his character. http://cli.ps/wafrV

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about Stephen ( Acts 6-7). He was stoned to death, but his story is not at all sad to me, primarily because it includes his response, and it seems he was not thinking of himself. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."

I realize that every day I have opportunities—both large and small-- to stand up for what is good. I know that some opportunities go unnoticed by me. I also know there have been times when I have consciously chosen not to stand. Not good. Sometimes we get "redos," and sometimes we don't. But, thankfully, every day provides a day full of new opportunities to get it right.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Friday, January 6, 2012

Todd Jr.

My sweet child is sitting on the couch with his legs outstretched onto the coffee table, ankles crossed. Those of you who know him can picture it, I'm sure. He looks just like Todd jr.
He says about a character in a show we are watching, "She is trying not to cry."  Then he adds, motioning emphatically with his hands,  "Even *I'm* trying not to cry. They make everything SO dramatic."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fear Not

One of my favorite books is The Stars Shone in My Hands by Julia (Judy) Catherine Parker (2004). I find myself returning to it regularly because this collection of reflections speaks so truly to my heart. Forgive me if I have shared this one before, but every time I read it I am comforted and encouraged.

Exerted from the reflection Fear Not:
…Spiritually, however, there was healing waiting for me that I could not imagine... At this weekend retreat, not only was Paula D’Arcy speaking, but a special group of Haitian friends.
I picked up a copy (of Paula D'Arcy's book A New Set of Eyes)…I opened it at random. I was riveted by Paula's words.
    The path is always the same. It begins with a knowing that the power is not in the circumstances I face, but in what I meet them with. It is my response to what happens to me that determines the course of my life. Pain is transformed when met with the nature that lies within; when met with that which is greater than pain. This inner spirit is who I really am. ... To live in its knowledge is to know yourself to be free.
    I watched that knowledge once in the face of a young woman from Haiti, Sheraz. …The streets were violent and the threat of harm continuous. But when I hugged Sheraz goodbye, whispering "Be safe," into her ear, she stood back and looked straight into my eyes with her dark beauty. "Safe," she repeated. "It used to be my prayer. But now I recognize that we may not be safe. And if this is our portion, so be it." No sentimentality. No smallness. Only clarity.Freedom.A beauty beyond the usual definition. The Self we most deeply are.

I was stunned. I knew I had a deeply felt sense of entitlement around issues of safety for myself, and those I loved. I could not get to Sheraz fast enough. I asked her to meet with me, and our conversation is one I will never forget.
"How did you get where you are?" I asked as I told her of my fears. She was not glib. She told me she had lived all over the world with a Saudi Arabian father and a British mother. She found herself in Haiti only because her husband, Louis, felt called to go and help his people. Without hearing the exact words, I knew her life was hard and dangerous.
"My favorite psalm is Psalm 91," she said, which of course, was mine, too. As we shared further she laughed gently at my admitted sense of entitlement. " God is sovereign," she emphasized. "I know He is with me no matter what. My own safety or the safety of those I love cannot be a condition of my relationship to Him. I know whatever happens will be redeemed no matter how horrible." Then she added these astounding words. "Should I be attacked, I pray I will be more concerned for the salvation of my attackers than for myself. I want to be thinking of them, not me."
When I went back to our room that night, and settled into bed, I found my eyes drawn to a framed poster…in beautiful calligraphy it proclaimed "Fear Not, For I have Redeemed You," the opening line of Isaiah 43. Suddenly, I saw it afresh. The words had become so familiar that they held little meaning for me.
… I began to understand "Fear not, for I have redeemed you," meant not only past, but present and especially future redemption of all things. I began to slowly realize that whatever happens, under the Sovereignty of God, it is already redeemed.
I read this verse, in context, from Isaiah 43:1-2 (RSV)
1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you,   O Israel; "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;  when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."


The words of Isaiah 43:1-2 remind me (susan) there is nothing that can be taken from me in this life that cannot or will not be redeemed by God—nothing will be wasted for those who choose relationship with Him.  The road has rarely been straight, and I have done my share of wandering, but I have never been able to abandon this relationship I have with my Creator, Redeemer, King.  During our marriage,Todd and I walked through fire more than once, and we were burned in the earthly sense--but each time, we were ultimately and amazingly strengthened in the spiritual, eternal sense.  We both had times when we thought we would be overwhelmed--but we weren't.  I continue to be aware of how much we balanced each other, and how different parts of me are awakening and gaining strength to compensate for his absence.  It seems these previously dormant parts really were paying attention to the lessons he was sharing (just by being himself) all those years. 

My New Year's prayer for myself, my children and others whom I hold dear:
Fear Not. Live boldly. Share yourself (your life and love) in healthy and life-giving ways, knowing that the God of all Love (agape) is with you always and He has, does, and will redeem it all (past, present, future).