I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end, he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh, I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
“Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church;
let it become a consuming fire, that it may burn the hay and stubble,
and consume whatever is worldly; there is heavy lead of iniquity in many;
let it be molten by divine fire; let the gold and silver vessels be made better,
in order that understanding and speech, refined by the heat of suffering,
may begin to be more precious.”
“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says,
‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you,
and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.
I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you,
the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices,
all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into
a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature:
either into a creature that is in harmony with God,
and with other creatures, and with itself,
or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures,
and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven:
that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power.
To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence,
and eternal loneliness. Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”
C. S. Lewis, p. 92
An Excerpt From
“There are fathers who do not love their children;
there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.”
I know that yesterday I had given us, or perhaps actually issued is a better word,
a laundry list of “issues” that we were going to need to play catch up with….
all sorts of pressing issues that had come down the pike while I was busy
with all things snow….
And yes, we shall indeed visit those issues…however, I was called into active duty, unbeknownst to my best laid plans, with active duty in my case being
the emergency holiday help at my husband’s store…
So now that I’m finally home, it’s late and I’m trying to prepare some sort of
hot meal of sustenance and get a post ready for tomorrow (which is now today if
you’re reading this), so I think we’ll hold up
on those more pressing topics until I have the proper time to do them justice….
And as life would have it, something interesting arrived in yesterday’s mail
that is now taking precedence.
You may recall that the I have a friend at Plough Publishing House who actually
happened upon my blog about a year ago or so.
That’s how we met.
She has been sending me sample copies of books that she thinks that I will enjoy…
and in turn will perhaps share with others….of which I have as time has allowed.
The small package that arrived in yesterday’s mail was one of those books.
A book that probably has made a bigger impact on my heart than my publisher friend
would have imagined.
Those of you who know me or have been reading this blog since this time last year…
know that I was knee deep in caring for my dad and stepmother.
Dad had an aggressive form of bladder cancer…he was diagnosed in late August and died
in March. Both he and my stepmother had also been diagnosed with varying degrees of
dementia quite sometime before that…
so needless to say we were just all in the middle of a downward spiral is putting it
It was a hard road for us all…with dad being an amazing example
quiet acceptance, perseverance and fortitude.
This time last year we already had 24 hour care as well as Hospice care…
plus I was driving over each and every day.
The last time dad had actually gotten out of the bed was on Christmas day when we
wheeled him to the table to enjoy Christmas dinner.
Naturally he didn’t have much of an appetite but he was most keen for the dessert.
So dessert it was.
Dad and my son had a very special bond.
My son was my dad’s only grandchild and Dad was more kid than dad…
so needless to say, they stayed in cahoots most of my son’s growing up.
My dad was always graciously generous to his grandson and to say that my son
was dad’s partner in crime was to have been putting it mildly.
I won’t go on as it seems I’ve written about all of this before and if I do go on,
I’ll simply loose focus over my original intent of this post and
cry more than I already am.
The book my friend sent me is actually a children’s book.
And I imagine it came my way because I will become a grandmother soon.
Yet the tale of the book resonated so much with me, not so much because I am
a soon to be grandparent,
but rather because it is a tale about a grandson and his grandfather.
It is a book written by a German author, Andreas Steinhofel and illustrated by a
German artist Nele Palmtag—and yet the tale is quite universal.
Max’s grandfather is in a nursing home because he has what is surmised to be
Alzheimers or some other form of dementia….’forgetting’ being the key word.
And nine year old Max, who adores his grandfather and misses their life together
before the nursing home, formulates a plan to “spring” his grandfather from the
in essence a plan to kidnap his grandfather.
And in so doing another member of the nursing home escapes by accident.
A long and spindly woman who is in search of the sun…as she dances
behind Max and his grandfather on their misadventure.
The tale is not a long read—-
I read it in less than an hour’s time.
Yet it is a deep read by adult standards.
It is funny, it is cute, it is painful, and it is very very real.
I think my 29 year old son would appreciate the story much more than his 9
year old self would have—as he now has the hindsight of understanding
Max’s deep longing.
I know that if my son could have kidnapped his “Pops” from that hospice bed he
would have….and off on one more adventure they would have gone.
But in this tale of last adventures, Max’s grandfather reassures Max, who is now desperately afraid that his grandfather, in his forgetfulness, will forget
he loves Max…explains to Max that he will always be there, loving Max,
even if it appears he has “forgotten.”
He explains to Max that when we look up into the sky we know the moon is there
because we can see it. Yet during those nights that the sky appears to be moonless,
which is only because of how the sun is shining on the opposite side of the moon—
the moon is indeed still there—just as his love will always be there for Max,
even if Max won’t be able to directly see it….
After finishing the story last night, I could not recount the tale to my husband
without crying…finding myself just having to stop talking as I allowed the tears
to wash down my face.
The story as read for a child would be fun, poignant as well as mischievous…
As for any adult touched by the stealing effects of memory loss or just the loss of
a loved one in general, will find the tale heartwarming and very poignant.
Just as I now fondly recall a life that once was…
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in
and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep,
leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can.
Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better
hour because it is dead.
Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones,
while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”
Our trip to West Palm Beach was long, short, sad and wrenching.
653 miles spent driving down on a Friday…
only to then turn around and drive it all back again on a Monday.
It took about 10 hours, with only one quick stop for gas.
Coupled by a constant flow of bumper to bumper traffic hurling itself,
as if lemmings on some odd unknown mission, to an unforeseen southward destination.
We drove and we drove to what seemed to be the ends of the earth…
but that would have been Key West and that would have required more time with
more stops than our backsides would allow.
The color of the sky changes when one is traveling so far south—
It goes from the more familiar north Georgia’s typical hazy blue sky,
to a faint veiled gauzy cloudy azure blue…
Maybe it’s because the land lays so flat, punctuated only by pencil thin palms
as the soil is more white sand than dirt…
and with the sun so intense, light easily reflects back upon itself.
The heat of day does not dissipate with the waning of a day as it does at home.
It doesn’t back off when the sun finally sets, providing that long awaited
respite of comfort.
There is actually a tremendous heaviness that engulfs one’s whole being…
this being due to the overtly high humidity which makes breathing nearly
And I thought our humidity was bad.
Moving from air conditioned buildings, which is essential to survival,
out to the oppressive heat and unrelenting sun leaves glasses fogged over
and skin and clothing feeling sticky and oddly wet even before one has had
proper chance to sufficiently break a true sweat.
This is the place Martha called home for the past 30 years.
A far cry from the years spent in Alexandria, Virginia during the early years of
I now understood why…for despite the apparently tropical beauty,
Martha would always protest…
“no no, let me just come up there”…
And because of that one fact, of her always wanting to come to us as she
would always prefer to venture north,
this was our first visit to West Palm Beach.
Martha would drive or fly up several times during the
year, staying for a couple of weeks at a time,
back to state she still considered home…
or more specifically near the city of her birth and raising….
I can’t really say all that I should or would like to at this point
about all of this…not yet.
Having lost three of the most important people in my life in the past six months
has simply taken its toll…
As processing the emotions, memories and feelings of such emptiness
will take some time.
One by one… the supports and shorings are now gone…
Those that helped to hold up the life I had always known…
This is part of the transition where I become the shoring to others…
a transition that denotes change, loss, growth and new…
all rolled uncomfortably into one.
My cousin, Martha’s adopted daughter,
had asked that I come to the house the day following the funeral
to see what if anything I would like to carry back home with me.
Martha was an avid antique collector…
and her collections were eclectic at best…
old antique Papier-mâché halloween decorations with a proclivity for pumpkins.
North Carolina’s famous family of folk art pottery, the Meader’s ugly jugs,
along with the primitive pottery of Georgia’s Marie Rogers.
The Ohio Longaberger baskets numbering in the hundreds…
to early vintage RCA radio dogs..
all the way down to antique turkeys of every size and shape.
I was really overwhelmed when we walked into the house and actually saw
the level to which some of the “collecting” had spiraled.
Her house not equipped for the excessive spillover.
My cousin immediately asked if I would like Martha’s sterling silver
Once was a time, long long ago, when every young bride
looked to building her proper entertaining set of silverware.
Receiving the coveted wedding gifts of silver pieces was as common
as the throwing of rice…
That being a particular pattern of sterling silver complete with
utensils and serving pieces.
Everything from teaspoons to seafood forks to butter knives….
As that now all seems to be for a time that was more civilized than
our own today.
But already having my mother’s and great aunt’s sets…and truth be told,
as my world shrinks, entertaining and cooking is now not nearly what it once was,
I tried to instill the importance of her keeping the monogramed set for both her
and her own daughter.
But when she opened the dusty old silver chest, my eyes locked immediately on the
well tarnished bundle of silver drink spoons / straws…
or what we had always referred to as sippy straws or spoons, depending on who
was using them.
While growing up, whenever we visited my grandmother,
we were always served a tall glass of icy cold
Coca Cola complete with a silver sippy straw.
Coke never tasted so good as when sipped through an elegant silver straw.
It provided a seemingly civilized air of savoring verses gulping and quaffing.
Probably Mimi’s way of getting us to slow down, enjoying and not wasting…
as she was a woman who lived during a time when waste was indeed considered sinful.
The straws were always kept in a certain drawer in my grandmother’s kitchen…
inside the 1920s small Atlanta Buckhead home.
A pale wooden light green kitchen cabinet, I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye,
was where the straws, always shiny and polished to perfection, were stored.
In 1989, when my grandmother passed away, Martha and I were the only two left to
the task of sorting and emptying the house for market.
She got the straws.
I had always wanted just one…
just one to remember.
Over the years I’d see other straws at various antique markets and silver stores,
always thinking I’d buy myself just one,
but in the end deciding it just wouldn’t be the same…
It wouldn’t be one of the straws I’d gleefully
retrieve out of the pale green drawer, delightfully anticipating plunging
it into my frosty glass of brown fizzy liquid…
as I’d gently clench the straw between my front teeth,
feeling the cold drawn liquid being pulled up into a parched waiting mouth…
So refreshing because Mimi’s house, back in those days, was not air conditioned…
an icy cold Coke, on a hot Georgia summer’s afternoon,
seemed like the greatest treat a child could have been given…
I asked my cousin if I could have the straws.
She was 10 years younger than I was and did not have the same fond memories
from time spent with our grandmother.
Being so much younger and living so far away, never afforded her much time to
bond with the long widowed woman with the poodles there in Atlanta as I had.
I had been the only grandchild for many years and we only lived 10 minutes away.
Plus Mimi was not a warm and fuzzy grandmother like others and what warmness
there was, faded with her mind as the dementia grew more and more.
My grandmother had lived a hard life.
A life that she had forged alone for herself and her two daughters during
a depression and a World War as a widowed woman…
long before it was common for women to own a business and work outside of
Both of which she did very successfully for most of her adult life.
My cousin was more than happy to give me the straws and seemed almost
sad that I really didn’t want to take much more as her task is now daunting
as she figures out what to do with years of accumulated treasured stuff.
This as I still have my own years of stuff to sort through at Dad’s.
As both cousins are now left to the task of picking through,
as well as picking up, the pieces—
all of what stays and all of what goes.
My cousin tells me that she wants to sell the house, eventually moving northward
where there are actually seasons, hills and trees…
verses living where the sky meets the ocean coupled by the
oppressive heat, humidity, and an azure blue sky….
I think I’ll polish my straws and then do something I haven’t done in years…
I’ll pour myself a Coke, a real Coke…bottle only mind you,
over a tall glass of ice…and I’ll plunge a straw deep down into the glass of
cold fizzy liquid as I draw up the memories of lives once known but always loved.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;
the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
Who among us, no matter where on the planet we may be, doesn’t glance
upward in the nighttime sky gazing almost longingly toward a full moon.
It’s as if that illuminated orb, in that vast inky night sky,
beckons hypnotically for our attention.
Calling all nighttime wanderers to cast their gaze heavenward as thoughts
hauntingly wonder, as well as wander, under the spell of melancholy mixed with awe.
For it is in the darkness that we innately yearn for the comfort of light.
We have been called, each of us, to be that same comforting light cast outward,
illuminating a frighteningly dark world.
As we are left to ask ourselves…
are we casting only more darkness in an already darkened world,
or are we reflecting the welcoming light of Salvation…
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I am the vessel.
The draft is God’s.
And God is the thirsty one.
(It is so dangerously dry as we have had no rain since the first of June that even the springs and creek beds, deep in the woods which are always full of flowing waters, are dry and empty / Julie Cook / 2016)
Dry and dusty are the muffled cries of the earth…
which now aches and groans.
The Creator has spoken and yet man’s ears have grown deaf
All the while the faithful are left to wonder…
Man readily dismisses any sign, any reminder of God’s sacred word..
Are the waters now dry?
Do the rocks quiver and shake?
Have the seas overtaken the land?
Are the stars falling from the sky?
Have the storms blotted out the sun…
As man turns away from his God?
May my longing and my thirst,
that only seems to increase during these waning days,
be quenched by You and You alone oh Lord…
“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.
I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire.
O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing;
I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed.
Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.
Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’
Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up
from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”
“When evening comes, you say,
‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning,
‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’
You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky,
but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”
Red sky at night,
Getting out of the car, at sunset, after a very, very long day
ferrying dad between this doctor and that doctor,
this lab facility and that medical center….
then spending almost 3 hours in traffic fighting to get home….
I look back, over my shoulder, toward the western sky.
The air is thick and heavy with the humidity of August.
Exactly how I’m feeling…weighted down and heavy ladened.
The evening is quiet.
A far cry from where I had just come.
Our son and daughter-n-law will be moving soon..
moving to the city I never seem to miss when I leave it.
But I can’t think about helping with packing and moving…
I often think it not wise to write when life is so heavy
or…maybe that’s exactly when one should…write…
pouring out thoughts and feelings…
searching to match the right words with the right feelings…
sorting and making sense of the senseless…
A body that is tired and hurting
joining thoughts with feelings that now are swirling…
I look toward the red western sky…
as if seeking some sort of reassurance…
Surgery on Friday for dad…
the tumor too large to remove…
but trying to shore things up while buying some time…
another heavy thought…open-ended
full of uncertainty…
A red sky.
Signals a sailor’s delight…
In other words,
Again, a sigh…before heading inside…
Signs of the time…
As I am reminded, while looking at the sky…
in the midst of all the madness and heaviness,
That the Master of the sky…
and of the clouds,
and of the stars,
and of the land
and of the sea…
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope
Red sky at night, sailors delight.
When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow.
Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.
A red sunrise can mean that a high pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east. A morning sky that is a deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain could be on its way.
(courtesy the Library of Congress, Fun Science Facts)