Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Good-bye

Last night and today have been celebrations. Family and friends have come together to celebrate the life of a precious woman. Of all the people I've ever known, Estella Hale is, or was, the most gentle and kindest. I never heard her say a negative word about anyone. There's a person in the family that everyone says bad things about. I said to Estella, "You've never said anything bad about her." She looked surprised and answered, "Why would I?"
That's the kind of person she was. She loved unconditionally. She loved my brother that way. Her way of telling him in a crowd that he'd said enough was a gentle tap on his shoulder. Otherwise, she would just roll her eyes.

I've heard it said that the good die young. Is that because they've grown in the Lord as much as they need to? If that's true, then those of us over 65 must still have much to learn.

The sky has been cloudy and the wind cold. The day Estella died snow covered the ground. It was beautiful-like God purifying the earth. Today tears have fallen from the sky in the form of rain. Those were our tears of sadness and loss but they were tears of gladness from the Father because He had another of His beloved children with Him.

I don't fully understand death even though the Bible tells us over and over that we must die and tht Jesus has overcome death for us. All I know is that Estella will be missed by her 9 brothers and sisters, her 13 grandchildren, her 4 children and her husband. She will be missed by in- laws and friends. From this experience I have learned that what we take with us and what we leave behind are both the same: what is in our hearts. That is all that really matters. Estella left her clothing, her momentos, hher collections, her Bible, her shoes, her jewelry--all those things we gather to us while we are alive. She took the love for Jesus and her family and the goodness of her heart and presented them to the Lord.

What will I present to Him? Maybe that's why I'm still here. My gift isn't quite ready yet. I pray He will make me more ready so when I leave this earth I have something precious to offer Him.

A few days ago, as I thought along these lines, I asked God if He is ever going to finish His work in me. It doesn't seem like I'm going to get where I want to go. I haven't heard an answer yet so I'll just keep pushing ahead.

One of my daughters wrote a text message saying, "I can see Grandma welcoming Estella into Heaven." I don't know what it will be like, but I know this: Estella wasn't afraid. She was ready. When will I be ready? Not yet, but when the time comes, I hope I have finished my course, just as Paul said. Right now, all I can say is "Good bye, Estella. I miss you."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Normal Life

I've been thinking about life--my life, of course. Maybe yours, too.

What is "normal" life?
You go about your business: get up in the morning, eat or drink coffee, read the paper or the Internet on your computer, go to work or if you're retired, do whatever it is we do every day. Have lunch with friends, go to church, write, attend critique meetings, read, watch TV, go to bed.
"Normal life?"

When I was a teenager, then newlywed, then mother--life was "normal." Somewhere along the years things changed. Divorce, deaths of friends, family members, husband--"abnormal." Or is it?

My brother's wife has cancer and she is dying. she has been under hospice care for a few weeks now. She's lived longer than expected--but has she really lived since she heard the news? Have any of us lived who love her and are watching her slowly die?

Death stops life in its tracks--not only for the one dying but for everyone who loves that person--from the husband to the children and grandchildren and to us: sister and brother-in-law. Even to cousins and nephews and nieces.

We all will die. We know that our bodies are preparing us for the inevitable by dying a little every day. But none of us is ready. My brother always joked that he wanted to go first so he didn't have to be the one left. But it isn't happening for him and he is glad. He said he wouldn't want his wife to have to go through what he's going through right now. I feel the same way. I've lost a husband to cancer and my present husband lost his first wife that way. One of us will die before the other one. I hope it isn't me. I don't want my husband to have to go through the grief he went through the first time.

I think I can handle it better than he can?
Who am I kidding?
I'm not sure what one of us would do without the other. We're that close.

We are so close that he finishes my sentences and I hate that. But I like it, too.
We are so close that I feel like he's the other half of my brain when I lose a word or forget where I put something.
Wouldn't it be nice if Jesus would just come back before we have to lose any more people in our lives?

All right. I know you've said that before, too. But chances are it won't happen that way.

That's just one of the things I'm thinking about. The other is "normal life."

I bought a smart phone today and have no idea how to work it. Why did I buy it? Do I need it? Is it too late to take it back?

This phone has so many aps that even smart people have problems working some of them.

I think I bought it because I need something "normal" right now.

I'm reading Rob Bell's new book, "Love Wins." Now that's the real "normal life." The book is about Jesus and what He did and what that means to us. It is all about His love. When I read it, my spirit soars. All this other stuff like death and smart phones mean nothing in the presence of Jesus' love.

I wish I had something profound to say right now, but that's it. Normal life is one that has highs and lows and weird events; quietness and questions; death and unfullfilled desires. It's everything we go through from birth to death.

Bottom line--I don't want to live any kind of life without Jesus.