Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Various Forms of Pride by James Fowler

1. Self-admiration – “Look at me!”
     a. Natural - my abilities, talents, assets. 
     b. Spiritual - my spiritual gifts, my ministry. 

2. Self-aggrandizement – “Don’t I look good/great?” 
     a. Natural - my looks, my importance. 
     b. Spiritual - my position in the church. 

3. Self-attention – “Listen to me!” 
     a. Natural - my understanding and viewpoint. 
     b. Spiritual - my Biblical and theological knowledge. 

4. Self-justification – “I am right!” 
     a. Natural - my way is the right way. 
     b. Spiritual - our doctrine and polity is right. 

5. Self-sufficiency – “I can do it!” 
     a. Natural - my abilities, my leadership. 
     b. Spiritual - our programs will make it happen. 

6. Self-aspiration – “Let me win!” 
     a. Natural - competitive spirit; one-up-manship. 
     b. Spiritual - our statistics will prove us successful. 

7. Self-seeking – “Give me mine!” 
     a. Natural - my rights; what I deserve. 
     b. Spiritual - our political rights and physical edifice. 

8. Self-exaltation – “Praise me!” 
     a. Natural - my credit, glory, commendation. 
     b. Spiritual - our procedures and success.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Grief Part 3, Learning

My dad (19) and my mom (16) on their wedding day, October 5, 1967
This week would have been my parents' 50th anniversary. My father asked us kids not to call him on the first anniversary without my mother since 1967. He just wanted to get through the day and not be constantly reminded of her absence.

It is a helpless feeling watching my father be so heartsick without his love, partner, comrade, and sweetheart. I've never seen my father cry and now that's all he does. It's heart wrenching.

The morning of my parents' anniversary, I had a vivid dream about them. I was behind my father as he was coming in their house and my mother met him at the door with kisses. Later they were in the kitchen, like I have seen many times throughout my life, hugging. I was in complete bliss watching them and that's when I realized I was dreaming. I woke in hallow anguish when reality set in. She's still gone.

I've learned so much about others and myself, good and bad. I've learned that I'm not as winsome as I hoped to be in mourning. It was a window in my heart without all the embellished covering.

I've learned that I love my family more that I thought. Losing my mom suddenly this year was a revelation of what is important, what battles are worth fighting, and unconditional love.

I learned after my mother's death which people in my life would support and who would abandon me. It's been a time of soul searching of what kind of people I'm initially attracted to and who I've ignored.

I learned the meaning of friendship, keeping them few and focused. I learned to align with genuine empathetic people and show Christ-like compassion in a time of crisis. I probably failed at these things unknowingly in the past. Marching through the trenches makes me keenly aware.

I'm also learning that forgiveness is the absence of bitterness and trusting God's sovereignty He will bring all things to fruition.

To tie this to my dream about my parents is that I need to take each day as it were my last with the people I love. I will hug, share, laugh, and even cry with those who authentically care because they are a gift that may not be within reach hereafter. "Life is a vapor..."

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" Ecclesiastes 4:9-10



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Grief Part 2, Healing


There was something cathartic about writing my post yesterday of suddenly losing my mother to kidney failure earlier this year. It was good that I relived that night even though it was sad. It took me eight months to get to this point.

I read other people's account of losing a loved one and I found them oddly comforting. There's something isolating about grief. Nobody wants to talk about it.  The world still goes on with its affairs while my heart is shattered and I'm suppose to get on with life. I tried.

After running a couple of red lights, as far as I know, I decided not to drive for a couple of weeks. Come to find out being a treacherous driver, temporarily, is a normal part of grief. Who knew that I would be a danger to society? I struggled cognitively. I was in a fog.

People can even grow impatient with a person in mourning. I wish we can go back to wearing a black ribbon for a year, not for the attention but a sign that I'm not myself. I need something that says I'm still hurting so please, have mercy.

One of the most healing moments was about a month after my mother's death. There was a lunch at a pizza place with my homeschool group after an event. I was so tempted to go home. I was too raw emotionally, too tired physically, and it was raining; a perfect day to hunker down in my cozy home. I haven't been in a social function since before my mom's passing.

I felt the Lord pressing on my heart to go, so I did. Being at a table full of women was the best thing for me. It felt good to hear about other things and laugh. That was a huge. I felt so light afterwards.

All that to say is it was so tempting to isolate myself but I desperately needed loving Christian  women around me. I think that was the first time I laughed in a month. Thank you Lord.


There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
 A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
 time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
                                             Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Grief Part 1


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Grief Part 1

My mom, dad and sister at our favorite beach.
I lost my mom eight months ago to the day. I had a lot of ups and downs with her but mostly ups. I miss calling her and hearing her sweet voice say, "Hello baby-doll!" I yearn for her when my heart is broken, needing a cooking idea, or to simply chat politics. I'm not one who watches the news so whenever there was something going on, she'd give me the low-down. We were friends and I had no idea what it would be like in a world without her. I miss her so much it makes my heart ache.

The night my mom died we got a call that her heart was at 10% capacity. We rushed in torrential rain through three states overnight to say goodbye. By the time we got there she was hooked up to clangorous machines, completely unconscious, and a mask pushing in her every breath.  In spite of all that, she looked beautiful. I put my face in her hair and took in her familiar clean scent. I kissed her face a hundred times and told her how much I love her. Shortly after, we prayed over her, and then the doctor was ordered to turn off the cumbrous apparatus. As the room was suddenly silent, I held her hand and when it began to cool, I let go. I then watched the body that brought me life take its last gasp.

I walked out of the room with everyone else. All my siblings were clutching their children and spouses in tears. I was in shock. I didn't feel anything. I remember hugging my boys and asking them if they were all right. I don't remember much after that. I didn't feel anything until a few days later.

The first two weeks were a blur. I do remember struggling to do the simplest tasks. I took some pans out to make oven quesadillas and I just stared at the them in confusion. My husband came in the kitchen and I put my face in his chest and cried, "I just can't do it! What am I going to do?"

That's just the beginning. I'm eight mouths out and it seems like yesterday when we lost our sweet mom, and years at the same time. So much has happened...including healing, learning, and growing.

Grief Part 2

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Lunch Rush

Here's the short film my son co-wrote for his school

 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

My Sweet Mama (April 9, 1951 - January 23, 2017)



"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

What a read at her memorial on February 11, 2017:

What if today I could talk to my Mom even for a few moments? What would I say? I could write a novel of all of the ways she was so special to me and to so many others. Perhaps I would give her highlights in a letter, a love letter.

Dear Mama...aka Gramie,

How can I even begin to jot down a few examples of what a wonderful person you were throughout all of our lives?  I thought I would start from my earliest childhood memories.

First of all, thank you for your tenderness. You were an angel to me in times of sickness. I remember even at your young age you were so maternal with your velvety smooth hands massaging my back and stroking my hair when I would be aching with fever. Your comfort didn't stop with your children. Your compassionate care-giving was there for anyone who was in their last days of life.  You're were always to be counted on for love and comfort.

Thank you for the music. I never told you how much I was in awe of your raw talent. You were an artist in every sense of the word.  From my earliest childhood, the rooms were filled with beautiful singing and acoustic guitars.  I remember all of us kids twirling around you and singing our hearts out to "Long Tail Cat", "Return to Pooh Corner", "Jesus Loves Me", and "Jesus Loves the Little Children". You had an incredible musical ear that becomes more obvious everyday that I did not inherit. I suppose I envied that a little, yet I was so proud that I had a mom who had a rich sounding voice like a blend of Karen Carpenter and Anne Murray, but prettier. You also had an amazing gift of harmonizing with any singer in a way that made a dreadful rendition of "Happy Birthday" sound heavenly.

Thank you for the fun. Some of my best childhood memories of you were jumping in our hippie mobile, blasting 70's tunes, and singing "Granny's in the Cellar" and "I've Been Working on the Railroad" along the Oregon countryside. I always knew you were cleaning when the Doobie Brothers and Eagle songs were blasting. I even had neighbors that would ask me to turn it down and I would reply, "I'll tell my mom to turn it down". To this day I love to clean my house to loud music.

You had the best laugh of anyone I've ever known. For such a meek lady, you had a fantastic sense of humor, even if at times it was at other's expense. Example; when I would be getting ready in front of a mirror and putting my makeup on,  you would sneak up behind me with a "BLAH" while tickling my ribs. Another example of your shenanigans is when the internet just came out. One by one, a victim of yours would be led to the computer room to watch a "pretty nature" video only to have a frightening ghoul jump out.  You probably ran the dial up for an hour and a half just to scare the ghost out of us just so you can laugh to tears.

Thank you for the food. I have so many memories of devouring your cooking. You use to make my favorite birthday dinner of chicken fried round steak, mashed potatoes with country gravy, and fried okra which you got from your mother's Oklahoman roots. I never quite perfected that dish. My love for cooking came from you. You showed love in such a tangible way by giving a care package for anyone who was sick, injured, or just need cheering up. You would spend hours cutting vegetables to the perfect size and season a dish flawlessly without a recipe. It was evident with every bite that so much loving care was put in your meals.

Thank you for being the coolest Gramie ever. You were not the kind of grandma that knit sweaters and baked cookies. Oh no. You were a gamer, so that made you a rock star in my boys' book. They'll always have memories of being allowed to stay up past midnight, eating junk food, watching Disney movies, and playing video games with you. They'll also have nostalgia for the rest of their lives of your hugs and kisses and simply talking to them.

Thank you for extending your love to your daughter and son in-laws. You were never a meddler and kept a healthy distance, yet you treated them like they were your own children. I know for my husband, it was like losing his own mother again. He loved you so. You also showed that same love and devotion to your brother, sisters, nieces and nephews by being a good friend and being there in times of crisis. Also, your love for music lives on, instilling your passion to your nephews by teaching them how to play the guitar.

Thank you for being such a wonderful example of a devoted wife to Dad. Your love for each other was undeniable to even strangers. You and Dad would looked at each other adoringly every day, and were so affectionate with each other in all your 49 years of marriage.  You two were a spot on characterization of soul mates. When he came home from a hard day of work, you would, much to our annoyance,  tell us kids to "scram" and leave you two alone to talk. I didn't realize until I grew up what a model that was for marriage.

Thank you for being my dear friend. I took for granted that you were always there for me. I will miss hearing your sweet voice and the urge to call you when something insignificant happens in my life will never go away, and I really don't want it to. I want that nostalgic ache to be a constant reminder for the rest of my life of how wonderful and unique you were. Out of all the moms in the whole wide world,  I thank God I got you.

Thank you for your unconditional love. I will always remember you as that sweet tender angel. I will always love you...ever so. 

Thank you Mama.

Your ever-loving daughter,

Niecie

Just a side note: My mother had me when she was only 17. She had a natural ability with music, mainly the guitar. She never used sheet music and relied on her ear. After much practice, I remember her excitingly summoning us kids when we were very small to be her audience. She played this many times over the years with the same difficult fret changes and long 7 cords. She sang it beautifully too. This a more recent recording of the song that was originally recorded in the early 70's, Return to Pooh Corner.