Monday, October 22, 2012

Advice for the day- or any day for that matter . . .

Never, never, never take loved ones for granted, not spouses, family or friends.  Especially, don't take asking for God's direction and help to be a thing to be taken lightly.  I learned last week that I needed cataract surgery.  It didn't need to be done right away, but since I've met my Medicare deductible for the year and I really am tired of guessing exactly what the word in the Bible is and also tired of guessing words and numbers scrolling on the TV, I decided to go ahead and schedule.  Then came the problem of coordinating it with the Avastin infusions given by the oncologist.  I worked out the earliest time availble, which was next Thursday, Nov. 1.  When I told my friend, the eye doctor who had referred me to the surgery clinic, she said, "Let me see what I can do."  It gets a bit involved, but the bottom line is, she called, made a switch, talked to Tommy who will have to take me and stay while I'm there, and I'm now going at 7:15 in the morning.  Problems solved.

A few things remembered or learned:  your spouse is your partner, your helpmeet, but he/she is not always there .  Be thankful for them and tell them.  A family sticks together.  God puts us in families, not of our choosing, but His.  I was concerned for Tommy's schedule; he was concerned that I be cared for and as soon as possible.  (All he wants from me is lemon ice box pie which won't ever adequately express how grateful I am for children who care.)  Friends come alongside in many ways. Accept what they give, say
"thank you" and be ready to be a friend to others. 

Above all, remember that God cares about every detail in our lives.  My focus in praying about this was for God to be present in my cancer cells during the time I would have to be off medication.  I was confident that He would.  Meanwhile, God was intervening through the actions of my friend and my family to get things done right away.  Never doubt for a minute that God is in control, God is faithful and God reveals such love in ways we can not even imagine. 

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Believe it or not . . .

There were many folks at the class reunion who had gray/white hair, a wrinkle here and there and a few pounds to spare.  Most had aged extrememly well!  Only one person looked at me several times, then at my name tag and then told me who I am.  Not a problem--I wasn't sure who she was either.  It was gratifying to visit with each other, catch up on the intervening years and experience the sincere concern each felt for the other.  For the most part, everyone was real.  It was good to hear of families, careers, etc. Some have retired; some have not. 

We had already been saddened early in 2012 to learn of the passing of a classmate from cancer and then shortly before the reunion we learned of another classmate being killed in a wreck.  We learned the first night we were together that Alma Bennett, who had planned to be present, was put in hospice care just this past week.  Still others have lost spouses (Linda Dawn Burnett, who was married to Erwin Wright, also in our class, lost him to a brain tumor in the mid nineties; Annie Ruth Pipkins Thigpen was widowed several years ago; Sandra Trest Sisson lost her husband not quite a year ago.) Carol Neal Fleming and her husband, Jimmy had two children with Cystic Fybrosis who would have been 35-45 years old had they survived their childhoods.  Remembering that always makes me sad. 

Dr. Lamar Neal came from some distance, I might add and he shared some of his Belhaven memories.  He told the group that he didn't give many A's and never an A+ but once--to Polly Bullard Woods.  No one was surprised by that. Dr. Morton Smith sent an e-mail that was read to the group. Mrs. Bewey Bowden, former speech teacher, always a beautiful woman was there and looked the same as when she taught us. (I had the special privilege of having her teach six weeks in my seminary homiletics class.) She told us that she was 29 when she began at Belhaven which means she has to be in her early eighties now.  Wow!  She has taken up painting and the college had a display of some of her works set up in the Alumni House.  We all laughed when she confessed to going to the Dean of Students and calling him a "pompous idiot."  Just think.  It took fifty years to learn that professors and students shared many of the same thoughts.

Many things at Belhaven have changed, buildings particularly.  Some have been refurbished, some replaced and new construction continues.  It was exciting to hear of the plans for the future and the ways God has blessed the college--now university.  But much remains the same:  Christ-centered education, dedicated, caring teachers and people!!  My life has been so blessed by friends made there, the church affiliation I had, and, of course, the education received.  Those of us who were there came away with a committment to get together more often to celebrate our lives and our friendships.

I was invited to have the opening prayer and blessing at our dinner Friday evening.  As I thought about what would be included in that prayer I decided on closing with the benediction that my pastor uses on Sundays:  in the name of the Father who has made us, the Son who has set us free and the Holy Spirit who makes us one.  Throughout the weekend, as we shared memories, spoke of joys and sorrows and talked of families, I was more and more aware of just why there was such love and concern present.  It is the Holy Spirit who makes us one.  Praise God for such a place as Belhaven and for friendships which had their beginnings on the "dear green hill."

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Once again . . . I have been negligent and dropped out of sight.  The retreat in which I participated was exactly what I needed for renewal and healing.  Finally, I realized just how angry I have been about Tom's illness and passing.  He was such a good man!  The anger wasn't directed at God, but at the circumstances and ultimately God.  I have not feared for my health in a long time; I am content where I am physically, with the care I am receiving and have no doubts that I am in God's hands.  But, I was drowning in the sadness and the loneliness and knew I had to reconcile my feelings with what I believe to be true about an ever caring God.  Praise God.  The anger is gone and I am at peace.  Yes, I will always miss Tom and there will be periods of sadness, but God is greater than my emotions.

It took all week to rest from the retreat.  When I got home Sunday evening I was both mentally and physically exhausted.  My crazy cat woke me several mornings with her explorations and her attempts to get me up.  She doesn't really want me for anything and ususally goes back to sleep when I give in to her.  Getting up at 4:30 or 5:00 makes for a long day!  I think I'll inquire about ADD or hyperactivity medicine for animals.

This week I have two preparations:  women's circle on Tuesday and a visitation orientation for the Deacons next Sunday.  I'm looking forward to both, but especially the Bible study on Tuesday.  My Sunday school class is studying a Tim Kelly book which has a pretty good bit of homework each week, but fortunately we don't cover a whole lesson each week.  Again, the best part of retirement is having lots of time to read and study.

At the end of the week I head to Jackson for the 50th reunion of my college class.  At first I was excited about going, then not so much when my former roommate for two years couldn't come and I began thinking of all the memories of Tom being there would bring to mind.  Now, I am once again looking forward to going.  I wonder if those I haven't seen will even recognize me with all this gray/white hair, many wrinkles and even more extra pounds than wrinkles.  Funny how that would have mattered earlier in life.  Outward appearance was so important and even more important was keeping the inner self out of sight.  I used to believe that if people really knew me, they wouldn't like me.  Through the years and by God's grace, I care more about the inside than appearance.  About twenty or so years ago I took a class on clowning at a recreation conference.  Because of self consciousness, I was hesitant to relax in front of other people and was terrified when asked to be in a skit or perform.  I thought clowning was the thing for me because I could hide behind the makeup and no one would recognize me.  Boy, was I wrong!  Clown makeup is thick white stuff that accentuates any and all wrinkles and flaws.  It was very revealing.  Clowning did teach me to let go and to try in some small way to make others smile.  I won't wear clown makeup this weekend, but I will let people know who I really am, who I have become as a child of God.  After all, that's what is really important.

I'm told the burgers are ready so I'll walk across the carport and eat my supper.  There are times when it's nice to be served!

Pastor Margaret