Thursday, April 28, 2011

In case you're wondering . . .

*The sun is shining - - beautifully! All week the weather folks have reminded viewers that seeing sunshine between the waves of storms was not good because it warmed the atmosphere, contributing to the threat of more storms. Today the sunshine is a good thing!

*The monster storm that roared through Tuscaloosa is not what loyal 'Bama fans have in mind when they yell, "Roll Tide." A couple of FB friends have posted videos of the tornado moving through town--scary picture!

*Not to be undone, Oxford, MS, where Ole Miss is located, has reported a lot of damage there. Earlier in the rash of storms, Starkville, home of Mississippi State had damage. I'm seeing a little SEC theme here. Point being: don't plan a college tour of SEC schools during tornado season.

*Speaking of "seasons," a reporter on a Memphis TV station said this morning that May is "tornado month." Didn't know that. Do know that hurricane season comes next and we're moving eighty miles from the Gulf Coast.

*"Moving" and related activites are uppermost in thought and mind. The storms have put a halt to things that need to be done to ready the house and yard. That, of course, means the house has yet to be put on the market. Meanwhile, packing continues. You might think a wayward storm has been through every room.

*I also have one of my favorite events in heart and mind this weekend--the annual FOPC Women's Retreat. How I wish I could be present!!! My last was in 2006, a most special retreat for me and my daughter. It was an event designed by God to help prepare me for a difficult trek "through the wilderness." That's just one of the reasons the weekend is special. Add that to the fellowship of Christian sisters, sharing and praising God; the fun and laughter; the beauty of the surroundings and you have an indescribable spiritual blessing. Remembering helps today to keep my focus on our mighty God who leads us through the wilderness. He is the God who calmed my fears during the recent storms. Life is a series of wilderness wanderings, a series of storms, but God gives peace when "our minds are stayed on Him." I'm praying for you, ladies, as you travel and attend the retreat.

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sunday's almost here . . .

Soon it will be the Day of Resurrection, the day we declare that Jesus Christ is risen! But there are many who do not celebrate for this reason. It will be one of few days that people attend worship services. It will be a day that celebrated Spring and new life. Bunnies and eggs take center stage. Families gather around tables laden with food, children are decked out in their finest, Aunt Susie and Uncle Ralph bring deviled eggs and other goodies. It's easy for the reason for Easter be hidden, just like the golden egg. As you celebrate, remember to pray for those who not know the One whose resurrection is brings new life.

I was touched this morning by a post on Marty's FB page and tried all day to get the link to work so I could share. I learned from my cousin this evening that she had seen it on Marty's blog and, finally, I am able to share. The song is Patty Griffin's "Mary," and brings to mind the grief she experienced at watching her son, our Savior, suffer and die. It reminds us of the gracious sacrifice of His life. How grateful I am! Follow this link to "Mary" is at the end of her post.

Have a most blessed Easter!

Pastor Margaret

Monday, April 18, 2011

Broken Silence . . . Please forgive the cluttered look of the last two blogs. I space between paragraphs, but when I post, the words are all run together. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong!!! Some things are moving forward. Others are not. There seems to be something new to do every day concerning the buying and selling of two properties. Later this evening I have to complete paperwork for the mortgage folks and I'm sort of clueless! I met with a realtor who will be listing my present residence over the weekend. He was such a help and was encouraging. Now I must find someone to do some yard work to improve the curb appeal, get in touch with a handy man to do some miscellaneous chores, find one room where we can store boxes that are packed, conduct a yard sale and put the house on the market. Income taxes were prepared, but there is some strange problem with Tom's SSN. So, instead of being able to e-file, they had to be sent to me to mail manually--most inconveniet for all involved. Hopefully, my dear friend and CPA way out there in California will be able to get to the bottom of things for me. Both Liz and I are packing boxes and Tommy is working on his office at the church. The days are not long enough. I'd be way behind if I didn't have Delora to help me. She has been such a Godsend for us! She and Tom had a special relationship; they loved each other; he trusted her and I trusted her to care for him. I wonder what I will do without her. She is not only my helper, but my friend. The recent storms in my hometown area of Jackson, MS and in Raleigh where Marty and her family live have been frightening. Today's forecast is for another severe breakout tomorrow night and early Wednesday morning. When the thunder awakened me Friday morning and the sirens began about an hour later, I wasn't sure if I should get in the inside bathroom or stay in the bed an pray. Without Tom, I was more frightened--yet one more thing for which I relied on him to tell me what to do next. Last Monday I visited a podiatrist to get answers about a big toe and to seek relief. Right away, he said I had a staff infection and that the nail was digging into the toe--a direct result of a chemo drug I haven't been on in two years. Long story short, he removed a sliver of the nail and the difference in that toe has been remarkable. I went this morning for a follow up and was happy to hear that unless I had any unexpected problems I didn't have to return. Bad news is that healing will take five or six more weeks. Considering how long it has hurt and how long I have limped on it, I don't mind the length of time it will take to heal. Yesterday I worshiped in Humboldt and stayed for the luncheon that followed. It was the first I had been there since Tom and I visited the week before Christmas and I dreaded go in without him. He and I love the people so much and he thought of the church as "his" place of worship. Miss Tennessee offered special music as did one of the young girls of the church and all were moved to tears. The service closed with the most beautiful vocal arrangement of "How Great Thou Art" that I have ever heard. As I listened and reflected on words of praise from Revelation that the pastor read, my tears flowed freely. I can only imagine what it will be like to be in God's presence, but Tom is experiencing that now. I felt really selfish wanting him to be here with me when he's living where he is. Grief and sorrow deepen more with every passing day, yet I still thank God for the days we did have and for the gift of such a special love in my life. My friend Linda, who is Liz's mom replied to an e-mail I sent her with saying: "We have an awesome God who always goes before us." That is my belief, but it's always good to be reminded. "He goes before us in triumphant procession." In this week of profound sorrow that leads to a profound expression of grace and unconditional love. join Christians everywhere as we proclaim: Jesus Christ is Lord. Blessings, Pastor Margaret

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A day of memories . . . But first, I must correct an error in the previous post. I said that Tommy told us that "he would move without us," but that is the fartherest thing from the truth. He insisted that if we didn't move, he wouldn't move. That's why God's timing was so perfect. After watching a bit of the Memphis news station this morning, I turned off the TV and turned on the stereo. At some times I avoid certain CD's and at others, I play our favorites and bask in all the memories. Our taste covered a lot of the music world--from bluegrass to folk songs; from symphonic to choral; from Frank Sinatra to John Denver. Tom loved marches. One of his all time faves was "Pomp and Pizazz," played by Eric Kuntzle (sp.?) and the Cincinnati Pops. In fact, he played it so much we wore out the first copy and we were on the second. He liked nothing more than when Tommy and Marty's friends came to our house for the first time, than to ask if they would like to hear his marches. Of course, they had to say "Yes." Then he would put on that CD, turn up the volume and the "Olympic Fanfare" could be heard all over the neighborhood. As I sat, knitting and listening to quiter things this morning, I couldn't help but feel the big, empty void in my heart. I tried to fill it with memories we shared and realized how fast the years pass, how much we seemed to leave undone. After lunch I dressed and went to a baby shower for one of Tom's former caregivers. On the way I noticed new bright green signs in several yards, replacing the "Jesus" signs with one that says "Hope." On the way home I saw a billboard with the same four letter word. How appropriate, especially this time of year! Jesus is our Hope. Because of His sacrifice, we have hope beyond the grave. Because of His life, we have hope to live every moment trusting in God's moment by moment blessings. Because of Hope, I know I will be with Tom again. I don't know how; I don't know what he will look like; I don't know about eternity, but I trust in that Hope. A special, special friend from California called this morning. He chaired the committee that called me to Fair Oaks church and he and his late wife became family to us. We haven't talked since Tom died; neither of us wanted to cry together on the phone, but today we talked, sharing our tears and the sorrow of lost spouses. The memories of how we became friends, their coming to Mississippi to participate in my ordination, the relationship the four of us had replaced some of the void I felt. I trust it did the same for him. The week has been busy with business details and packing. Still, I took a day to go with two friends for a knitting lesson in Memphis. We all needed it for the various projects we have going! I really miss Tom when trying to work on all the endless business details. Finally, the correct marriage liscense arrived and I was able to tend to the Socail Security, thinking all the while that it would take another two months for them to respond. I was pleasantly surprised to find deposits in the bank the very next day! Income tax info was mailed to my friend and CPA. You probably heard my sigh of relief! I was happy about the things I had learned from Tom about pulling everything together, but when it came time to mail, I realized I hadn't learned enough. I miss Tom's wise counsel. On the other hand, there is another memory that makes both Tommy and me chuckle. Tom was not a "fix-it" kind of guy. As long as he lived, Dad was the person we all went to when something needed fixing. Neither, did Tom enjoy woodworking; Dad did. Tommy fixes things, does projects around the house and enjoys restoring furniture, all of which he learned from watching his granddaddy. He called earlier and told me he almost went this morning to purchase a new weed eater, but decided instead to take it apart to see if he could fix it. He found a bent washer, replaced it with a new one (from supplies he got from Dad's shop) and it works like new. I told him that I hoped Jacob was learning from him and the trait Tommy got from his granddaddy would pass directly to Jacob, not skipping a generation like it did with him. He laughed and I'm sure lots of memories flooded his mind as they did mine. In defense of Tom, he did take on projects that needed doing, attacking them with all his might--he just didn't like to. Memories are one of God's most gracious and healing gifts. I have enough to last a lifetime! Blessings, Pastor Margaret

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Catching up . . . As I said in the last post, this is my first March Madness without Tom. It's not quite the same. I've been watching the semi-finals today and I know he'd be pulling for, not Kentucky, but the SEC. There is no one sitting in his chair and no one cheering or clapping his hands, but I can imagine him and his responses. I thought on Thursday as I sat in the clinic in Memphis waiting on all the various things for which I was there, how much I missed him. I had never gone to an appointment in Memphis without him and I had to bite my lip to not cry, especially in the examining room while waiting for the doctor. I knew he would be holding my hand, silently praying and telling me that everything would be all right. I could only imagine. And always, before we left that room we would pray aloud, thanking God for continued mercies. This time I prayed alone. I will always miss him. The little things still make me sad. I was in Memphis Thursday for an evaluation and received good news. Dr. Reed is pleased with my response to the oral chemo once a day as opposed to being infused every other week. The new system allows me to maintain my energy level. The scans indicated no change in the disease: no improvement, but no increased activity either. Praise God! Tommy has accepted a call to be the Director of Discipleship at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS. He will also apply for his counseling liscense in Mississippi and help begin a counseling ministry at the church. God's timing, as always, is absolutely perfect. Tom and I have encouraged him all along to be open to this call ever since it became a blip on his radar last summer, but we believed that we were not able to move with him. He continued to insist that he would move without us and we prayed for God to open the door and for Tommy to be obedient. The official phone call came the Sunday we were coming home from Tom's service. Liz, Sarah and I went to find a house(s) during Spring Break and found the perfect setting. Again, the hand of God was present and so visible. We found a place on ten acres, in the best school district, with a guest house behind the main house. We know it was the answer to many prayers offered on our behalf!! Now, we are praying for a teaching position for Liz, to sell both our houses here and to work out the details of the move the first week in June. My oncologist made a referral for me to see who he calls the "guru in oncology" who teaches at the University of Mississipi Medical School in Jackson and who also has private patients. Dr. Reed added that this doctor "knows ovarian cancer like the back of his hand," high praise coming from him. Thursday my appointment was made--another answer to prayer. I begin seeing him in June. So often we look back on our lives and remark how we can see how God was present in the midst of events. We have been blessed to see daily how God is at work--in all circumstances. There was much to share tonight. I pray that you, too, might be encouraged in your Christian walk and that you might trust God for all your needs. He is ever faithful! Blessings, Pastor Margaret