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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Brothers

I just got off the phone with my brother-in-law, Scott. No, let me rephrase that. I just got off the phone with my brother.

All my life, I wished I had an older brother. Someone to guide me about men, so I could be more comfortable with the opposite sex. God in His wisdom blessed me with three marvelous, incredible sisters instead. I had a wonderful, good father, but somehow we just didn't talk about those things. Little did I know that a prayer I had never articulated, even to God, would be answered years later when two of my sisters said, "I do."

I shared some good news with Scott during our phone conversation, and also a major prayer concern. Scott, a loving man of few words, uncharacteristically launched into prayer over the phone lines from 3,000 miles away in a hotel room. In the spirit of Steven Curtis Chapman's Let Us Pray, he took the opportunity then and there, rather than promising to intercede later. His gentle, heartfelt words, born from bitter experience of his own, touched and soothed my fearful heart.

My other brother-in-law - no, brother - Tom, has been just as much of a Godsend at different times. Both he and Scott sat alongside me during an excruciating school meeting years ago, lending moral support and testosterone to a situation that needed both. Tom has also shown wisdom and good judgment during a variety of family issues.

My friend Anita would say they are mensches. And she would be right.

"Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear." Isaiah 65:24

Monday, June 24, 2013

Restoration

Last year I had a falling out of sorts with a fellow believer.

It was a falling out of sorts because the whole thing was unspoken. Neither of us ever lashed out at the other. There was no grand parting of the ways. There were very simply, miscommunications, mistakes, and misunderstandings that gave rise to a certain degree of misery.

I carried around my half of the angst for a number of months. I griped some, prayed some, and finally arrived at a mental stalemate that consisted of distance and letting go. Live and learn, I told myself, but don't fall into the same trap again. Accordingly, I remained cordial yet aloof with this person, having decided I had invested enough emotional energy in the relationship. To be blunt, I simply backed off.

Recently, though, my sister in Christ decided to clear the invisible cloud between us. She started out by bringing me flowers! One day she just appeared at my door with a beautiful bouquet that graced my dining room table for a week and a half. She said it was for no special reason, but we both knew it was for a very special reason.

Next, she stole an opportunity to apologize in a short, sweet way for anything she might have ever done to offend me. How could I argue with that? Sensing she would feel uncomfortable hashing out details, I simply murmured my acceptance of her gesture, and resolved to mean it.

Last night, my friend - and I do mean friend - put the lid on the matter once and for all. She sent Satan packing. The Lord arranged an impromptu meeting for us, without any third parties around for a change. My friend at first begged off as it was bedtime, then decided to keep me company while I went about my business. In her roundabout way, she began talking about spiritual truths in general, then zeroed in on our difficulties.

"Do you think?" she wondered aloud, "Satan has ever put any obstacles between us?"

Not being prepared for this discussion at 11 PM, I tried to turn the question back on her.

"What do you think?" I responded, wondering how deeply she wanted to wade into these murky waters.

She was having none of it. She gently pressed me for an answer while I gathered my courage and heavenly armor. So cautiously, I spoke the truth in love. I told her yes, we had had some difficulties, but that I felt God had put them behind us. I hearkened back to her gestures of amends making, and told her I saw them for what they were. She didn't ask for details and I didn't supply any. I felt God guiding me to withhold the why's and wherefore's, realizing the gumption it had taken for her to broach the subject in the first place.

What a wonderful way to start off the week.

Check out Newsboys' Let It Go

Boxes

At the risk of over-spiritualizing the mundane, I have to state that I'm happily flabbergasted at the way God has simplified a potentially overwhelming task.

My family is in the throes of a major house renovation, and boxes of all shapes and sizes were needed to pack up two rooms. Normally, I would have had to prowl around in super markets and liquor stores to avoid tossing my belongings into trash bags at the last minute. This time, though, I felt the Almighty smiling on my predicament, as He strategically steered me to hallways, grocery store aisles and even trash sites to stumble across a veritable cornucopia of cardboard. My newly employed son even called from work with an offer to stash rather than trash a large array of cartons.

God, not the Devil, really is in the details.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Starting Out Wrong

At a recent prayer vigil, I watched as one of the attendees tried to park his car. This is an older gentleman, and he was struggling. His problem, I noticed immediately, was that he started in nose first, instead of backing in using the "S" pattern my dad insisted on when he was teaching me to drive. After much backing and forthing, and not a little coaching from a helpful cohort, he made his way in, but the end result was skewed and a good foot and a half from the curb.

All this maneuvering reminded me of mistakes I've made in the past, ones I don't want to repeat. The biggest example that comes to mind, and certainly the one with the greatest ramifications, was marrying without consulting God. How clearly I remember our first date, where the subject of faith came up. I was a young college student at the time, and wandering from God. I had rashly declared to the Lord in high school that His way was not working for me, and that I would steer the ship henceforth, thank You very much. Consequently, when Mike professed his Christianity to me in the car that day, I expressed my wayward mindset.

Here was Mike's opportunity to be obedient to 2 Corinthians 6:14, but he stumbled. He let attraction, rather than heavenly wisdom, be his guide. By the time I came to my senses and got on the same page with God, I failed to heed the cautions of family members, who raised alarm sirens that I blocked out with wedding bells. The results were disastrous for both of us.

Like my friend from the prayer vigil, I could have saved myself and many others grief of Hindenburg proportions by simply starting out right. God gives clear instructions about marriage in His word, and even if I had never read a word of them, I certainly could have put the brakes on while I prayed through this monumental decision.

If it sounds like I'm kicking myself, I don't indulge in that morbid luxury too much anymore. For one thing, Romans 8:28 has proven itself too true in my life; although I wish I could boast a long and victorious marriage, God is shaping me into the woman He intends me to be, despite my wrong choices. Also, as a result of our flawed union (isn't every union flawed in the final analysis?), I am blessed with two sons whom I love very much. How wonderful to serve a God who can turn wrong turns into blessed destinations.


Check out Steven Curtis Chapman's Run Away

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Barbara Anne Horton Whitten Parrish

... was an exceptional woman.

She gobbled up current events, enthusiastically exercising her right to vote and volunteering her time to the political process, even before the Women's Movement made it chic to do so. She championed the underdog, encouraging her children towards compassion and awareness of those who were suffering. Upon learning of the misfortune of a former classmate (with whom she had lost contact years before), she rallied the friend's church to support and care for her. She tracked down a disadvantaged family she learned of on the news, and dug into her own pocket to aid them at Christmastime. But perhaps her most significant gift to the world was promoting peace in her own family.

If charity begins at home, doesn't it stand to reason that harmony does as well?

Don't misunderstand. Barbara had a fiery temper, but that temper was tempered by an equally strong and protective love for her family. While it would be dishonest to say her emotional side didn't get her into trouble with the aforementioned family (on more than one occasion), it would be equally unfair to imply that it didn't influence the spirit and grit of said family, in perpetuity. While Barbara has been gone from this earth for over ten years, the same moxie that enabled her to single parent her first child for 11 years came to bear when one of her four daughters found herself in the role of solo parent decades later. The same outrage that fueled her battles with educational authorities who mistreated her children spurred her grandson to stand up for a bullied classmate years down the line.

I guess the generation gap isn't as wide as some may think.

Rifts that took place between Barbara and her sisters engendered her passionate appeals to her own children, begging them always to "be friends with each other." Recognizing that the example of estrangement in her family of origin could well be contagious, Barbara pleaded with her children to learn from it, not by it. Consequently, when it came time to care for ailing parents and ultimately to share their estate, Barbara's daughters cooperated instead of contesting (to the point where the daughter who was most in need received, with the full support of the others, a larger share of the assets).

In this day and age of greed and looking out for Number One? Really?

Characteristically, Barbara chose the high road when given the opportunity to mend relations with her sisters. While recognizing the futility of courting close relationships with controlling and bombastic personalities, Barbara settled for the uncomplicated act of letting go. In so doing, she set the course for forgiveness, which has also trickled down into the next generations' dealings with each other.

Barbara's backbone and soft-heartedness are alive and well in her progeny, and I am proud to be one of them.

"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy... Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Proverbs 31:20, 31


For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Old Grudges