Sunday, May 29, 2011

Less than a week . . .

My emotions are still on a roller coaster. There has been so much to do in the last three months with endless arrangements to be made, business to comprehend and settle, sorting and packing. I don't think I'll be ready by Thursday, but what choice do I have?

I wonder if I'm ready to walk out, close this chapter and get on with my life as a widow. It's still a harsh word--a hard situation, but I continue to remember Meredith's words: Paw Paw's in your heart. He literally fills my heart to the brim with all the memories and all his love and the tears don't flow as freely.

A couple of weeks ago I began reading through the Bible in Eugene Peterson's The Message. It seems that when I have important decisions to make God focuses my attention on Abraham and the covenant God made with him. The best promise in all of Scripture is the one where God says: I will be your God. There is none more meaningful! It is rich and incredibly full. There is nothing to dread, nothing to fear. I can be sure that God will always care for me and it's because of who He is, not what I do or don't do.

In Peterson's introduction to Genesis, his opening paragraph says: First, God. God is the subject of life. Gd is foundational for living. If we don't have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get "our" lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God. This is our covenant making, covenant keeping God.

God will go before me as I move.......

Pastor Margaret

Friday, May 20, 2011

The days are speeding past . . .

and I am barely keeping pace. I think I've done a lot, then I step into a room that still has lots in it to pack. Two weeks from today I'll be somewhere in between this Jackson and Jackson, MS. The truck comes to load both houses on June 2, but won't arrive in Petal until the 7th. After I leave here, I'll go to Memphis to visit my cousin overnight, then head to Jackson to visit friends there. Monday, the 6th, we meet in Hattiesburg to close on the new house. I'll stay with the pastor and his wife until I can get somewhat organized in the new place. Unfortunately, Tommy and Liz will have a more hectic schedule since VBS begins Monday and they will need to be present for that. Oh well, they're young and energetic. None of us can believe the time has come.

Meanwhile, we continue to pray for Liz's parents and the approaching flood water. The Mississippi is scheduled to crest at Natchez Wednesday, the 25th and I believe they moved to higher ground today. They live on the Louisiana side of the river, which is lower than the Natchez side. Their furniture was moved out two weeks ago and plans were made to move to an apartment at the Natchez Children's Home when they could stay in their home no longer. The stress and strain on thousands of people is devastating, to say nothing of the loss of property.
Thank you for praying with us.

Today I went to Memphis with my two knitting friends. Not only was I ready to take a break from packing, but I also had a couple of problems that needed an expert's help. We had a great day!

Blogs may be sparse for the next few weeks as we wind down here, get moved and settled with a new address, a new e-mail, etc. I'll send new contact information to Mary when we're there.

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Holding back the panic mode . . .

Sitting in front of the computer and the TV; learning about flood conditions, when and where the River will crest; seeing the fleeing deer and the water moccasins up close and personal tends to make one anxious. Liz's parents have prepared to evacuate their home in Louisiana, just across the River from Natchez. Still they wait and pray and we wait and pray with them. Last night there was news that the crest had come to Memphis and that some of the towns in Northwestern Tennessee have begun to dry out. Water, so necessary to life, can also be very deadly.

The repair man worked diligently with his crew four days last week. As it happens, he found a few more things to fix than what I put on the original list and there were a few other "flies in the ointment" as well. Installing a new kitchen sink turned from a simple task to a two day undertaking. I lost count of how many trips Ricky made to Lowe's to get additional pipes and joints because the original plumbing seemed to have been pieced together. After two days of having no water in the kitchen, the sink was pronounced ready and the water turned back on. Unfortunately, it was not ready. The dishwasher woundn't fill , nor would the icemaker, then we discovered leaks. Finally, yesterday afternoon Ricky came back, turned the right knobs, found the leak and I was back in business. The three window ledges are pending and I think I still have a leak somewhere in the front porch roof. Surely, you remember telling your children, like our parents told you: Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Whoever "repaired" things before we got here, didn't know that instruction!

The weekend was busy. I was up by five Saturday morning to make final preparations for the yard sale. At the end of the day I told Liz that I wasn't sure it was worth the effort and she began naming the things accomplished. We forced ourselves to get rid of things, which in turn helped to organize packing efforts and what wasn't sold was picked up at the end of the day and we didn't have to deal with those things again. Those who pick up for the Paralyzed Veterans Assn. were already scheduled to stop here this morning to get clothing I had to donate.

It was Youth Sunday at church--the best service of that type I have ever attended and I've experienced MANY in my lifetime. Everyone in the group had at least one part in leading worship. Grandson Jacob accompanied on his guitar for the youth songs and for the offertory he played an arrangement of "This is My Father's World" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" on alto saxophone. People were blessed by his offering of music and Mom, Dad and Maw Maw were beaming through our tears. Tom would have been "busting his buttons." Later in the day I visited on Skype with Marty and the two boys and went to Tommy's for Mother's Day supper. Praise God for two wonderful children and eight special grandchildren.

I taught my last lesson for my circle yesterday. For me, it was a bit sad. Anyone who has ever shared God's Word in such a setting feels a special bond with those who come. I have been the Bible leader for the past two years and in the process we have come to know each other better, shared faith stories and learned together. What a blessing those ladies have been to me!

Now, I focus on packing, packing, packing. I was awake at three this morning. When the clock approached four and I was still lying in bed making mental lists for today, I got up, dressed, made coffee and started the day. Later, I'll be sorry. A nap has been added to that mental list.

Please continue to pray for all who have been affected by the storms and for those who remain in danger. Pray also for our family as each of us adjust to the challenges ahead. We pray, knowing that God is in charge and that He will go before us in "triumphant procession."

Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

How High's the Water, Mama?

Those words from a Johnny Cash song are being repeated over and over all along the Mississippi River and its tributaries these days. Many areas have been evacuated, others are just feet from having their entire towns under water. Six feet high and rising goes the song and all we can do is move to higher ground, if possible. Where we live in Jackson, there is no danger, but we have friends and family, including Liz's parents who live just across The River from Natchez, who are watching and praying.

We have finally had a few sunny, dry days and work could begin and move forward on my house. A nice young teacher from the school where Liz teaches came two days over the weekend to trim shrubs and cut out volunteer trees in the beds. Today the man to do minor repairs on the house began his work and none too soon. When the storm windows were removed he discovered I had three rotten window ledges. Hopefully, tomorrow all the trim can be painted, the ledges replaced and painted and the window put back on. Other than having to paint the living room ceiling, nothing else will be that time consuming.

This weekend we are having a moving sale, then all my attention can be focused on packing. The first weekend in June will be here before we know it! We are still praying that Liz will get a job in the school district where we'll be living.

Several years ago a friend showed us pictures of a clear stream and told us it was the origin of the Mississippi River. I was amazed to see transparent water, calm and soothing as it bubbled out of the ground and began its journey southward. I thought of how it changed along the way. It grew wider, more forceful and muddier and muddier. Spring rains brought flooding in low lying areas, but the effects of the flooding made rich soil even richer. Some years farmers would be late planting, cutting the growing season short. Other years those same farmers might have bumper crops. People in the delta regions had an almost Epicurious attitude: "Eat, drink and be merry, because there might not be a crop next year."

In California, our friends John and Peggy, invited us to visit them at their cabin at McCloud. One afternoon we were driving around, visiting the sights and while in Mt. Shasta we stopped at a park to let the dog play and stretch her legs. (I don't know who had a better time playing in the park, Tom or the dog.) Peg and I walked over to a bubling spring, much like the picture I had seen of the origin of the Mississippi. This spring was the origin of the Sacramento River. Again, I was amazed to see something so clear and pure, all the while remembering what the Sacramento looked like as it made its way toward the sea. I told Peg that one day I would use what I had seen and the process of the river growing and changing as a sermon illustration. I have yet to do that.

The Bible is full of water stories: God holding back the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross on dry land; Jonah being thrown overboard and being protected in the belly of the whale; and how could we leave out Noah, his adventure on the Ark and the promise God made to never destroy the earth by water again? Water is essential for life--but not just any water. It has to be pure, safe for us to drink. Contaminated water brings sickness and death to many. Water is life giving, but can be one of the most dangerous forces in nature. One day I will preach that sermon using the origins and journeys the rivers take. In the meantime, I will ponder how life and the events of life mimic the characteristics of the waters of the world. Mostly, I'll be ever so mindful of the One who brings us streams of Living Waters.

Pastor Margaret