Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Color of Spring

This week I had the great privilege of meeting a fellow blogger. The whole cyber friend thing has confused me for some time. Mostly because I know some of you more than I know half of the people listed as “friends” on my Facebook. Lou, from Subdural Flow II, was in the area for vacation. She lives in the midwest. She wrote and asked if we could meet at the ARC and could I give her a tour. YES!

Meeting her was like seeing an old friend. There was nothing unfamiliar about her. What a treat that was! Lou’s blog is about life, specifically, life as a parent of an adult addict. Thankfully, her child is in recovery today. Take a visit to her blog and read her account of our meeting. Our visit was too short and hopefully, there will be another opportunity.

Meeting Lou, that's her on the left and me in my SA office attire.

The new blossom of friendship. As good as nature’s blooms. Better because friends are longer lasting.

The two entwined this week through the camera lens. I’m glad Lou had her camera to capture this new sprout of friendship. It will be nurtured through our common heart for the hurting, the broken. We also have a common joy of nature. Our scenery here quite different from her midwestern one but all creation paints its own beauty.

Henry and I got these shots of the sunset over the ball fields near our house. Every now and then he’ll ask for the camera. He gets some nice pictures. He has a good eye. He also pushes the zoom past the recommended max. It worked great on the blooms of this tree.

Trumpet tree

Yellow tulips from Henry and a couple of colorful parakeets in the aviary of the Memphis Zoo we took last summer. Spring colors all.

Last March I was in St. Louis and captured these pictures of their spring just beginning to burst forth. The flowers breaking through the ground seem innocent in their newness, their pale color with just a blush of the deeper shade.

Daffodils

Spring in St. Louis 2011

My hotel room was across the street from the baseball stadium and it was opening day for the St. Louis Cardinals. I’m not a baseball fan but it was fun to see the city’s enthusiasm for their home team. Opening day – a sure sign of spring!

Busch stadium? Not sure its name

Opening day for the St. Louis Cardinals 2011

Two years ago I was in Kentucky helping a friend with a women’s retreat at a camp. My friend, Marty, had this pot of blooms on an old chair. A beautiful welcome to friends.

Kentucky welcome May 2010

In celebration of the new things spring brings, especially new friends.


This I Know

Love Wins

For years I planned and led youth programs. From scouts to high schoolers, bible study, church history, crafts, games, music, camps I was immersed in youth work. I attended the best youth conferences led by Youth Specialties. The opening session included some of the same information and ice breaker stuff year after year but always an opening a bit different too. Out of all the years I attended the only opening I remember is this:

Before a crowd of at least 3,000, three middle-aged men walked to the stage and sang:

“Jesus loves me, this I know. For the bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The bible tells me so.”

There was no accompaniment. Just their average voices singing this children’s song. Jesus Loves Me.

The rest of the conference would be filled with bands like Jars of Clay or Third Day. Workshops about big flash youth programs or personal spiritual formation. There would be plate spinners, comedians and A-list speakers from the faith community. Topics of more depth or sheer entertainment to stay with me but I remember that simple song. The one I learned in Sunday School if not before.

Jesus loves me, this I know.

The point was clear. It all comes back to this: being loved. By Him. By the Son of God and God himself.

We are approaching passion week. Holy Week. The week we see no greater example of his love for us than that of his loved poured out on a cross for us. For me. Jesus loves me, this I know.

Because He loves me, I want you to know He loves you too. It is probably the paramount thing we want the men in the ARC to know. Jesus loves you. They may have never known true love from a parent or from anyone. I’ve seen the marks of abuse. The scars of addictions perpetuated by not being loved. The hardened hearts of love betrayed. But there is love. Real love.

Jesus loves me, this I know.


Vision Check

We don’t have to change what we see.

Only the way we see.” – Ann Voskamp

The memory stays with me. It was third grade. Alexandria, Louisiana. My class was having the vision test. I failed. I cried. It was the first test I had failed. From that time on I’ve had to wear corrective lenses. Glasses in elementary school ask for the boys to call you names. And they did. Though not until sixth grade and by then I could out run many of them.

Many of the men need corrective lenses and we’re often able to help them get glasses. Your world can become new when you see clearly.

I liken the Twelve Steps to clarifying our vision. The steps put into sharper focus who we are and who we can be. This would be our main desire for the men. To see themselves reflected in God’s love. To see clearly how he does care for them in spite of. In spite of addiction, abuse, deceit, criminal record.

Working their recovery program begins with a true recognition of who they are: addict, alcoholic, son, father.

It continues with the surrender of squinting eyes trying to put things into focus and allowing the higher power, God, to clear their vision. I’m not talking about physical healing but the surrender of our will for His. But yes, this is a kind of healing, isn’t it?

How sad for those that never have their vision checked and go on bumping their way through life. Or they refuse help to correct the vision and choose to squint while pretending everything is fine.

And how sad it is for us who never allow God to give us new eyes, new sight, clear vision. We don’t have to change what we see, only the way we see. I want to see people through God’s eyes. To see beyond labels and prejudices. And maybe see myself as he sees me.

free image

“Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”  - Be Thou My Vision, ancient Irish hymn


Wordless Wednesday – Yellow

 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.” Luke 12:27 NLT

Yellow tree, variety unknown

 


Potpourri

We call it paradise

No, this isn’t a scratch and sniff blog post. Not that kind of potpourri. Rather, it’s a collection of things not linked. That kind of potpourri.

First, the sweet fragrance. Today, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise (a nod to my granny), I’ll be meeting a blogger friend. She’s not on WordPress so I’m not sure how I found her blog but so very glad I did. She writes about her journey as a parent of an addict, who is now in recovery. I have learned from her and I believe it’s helped me in the work I do. She’s opened my heart to another perspective. Normally, I would be nervous of meeting someone new but I feel I already know her and we have a common bond in loving people in recovery. We’re meeting at the ARC and I’m excited to show her around and put flesh to the words she’s read.

Hope

The other part of this potpourri doesn’t smell sweet. Though I trust the ending will be. I’ve talked about Adam before. His journey took an unexpected turn last year when he was run over by a forklift and one of the forks went through his leg. Last month I talked about his latest hurdle when he learned he would need another surgery. His 13th since last May. News of that hit him hard and laid him low. We had a difficult talk but one I hope showed him our support hasn’t  wavered.

Adam finally on crutches after months of physical therapy

This surgery was on his toes. He was operated on last Friday while we were out-of-town. I didn’t like that part. He sent me this picture today.

He can’t work for two weeks and light duty two more weeks. He was in a lot of pain earlier and was to get a pain block Monday afternoon. Since pain meds were his addiction this has been a problem for him throughout his recovery.

I’m proud of this 29-year-old. He’s come along way since entering the program over two years ago. He’s met his biggest challenge with this injury. It’s been a rough journey but I believe in him. More, I believe in the God who created him for a better purpose. I know he wants a better life. He’s tasted that and found it to be good. He still wonders why and I don’t have an answer that satisfies. Not every day. He knows he is loved. That’s enough for today. And we’re doing this one day at a time.


Simple Prayer

The song, written by a friend years ago, its tune rolling around in my head. The words mixed up, remembering some and drawing a blank on others, much like mama’s word salad. I remember singing it, the small ensemble of voices at church. It’s title self-descriptive: Simple Prayer.

“This is a simple prayer, from the depths of my heart, Lord teach me to be kind….(humming) teach me to honest about the things I try to hide….and teach me to….??? and let your spirit be my guide…..(more humming)…Lord, teach me to be true.”

(The humming where I can’t recall the words. Surely I’ve missed the best parts. Like many of my prayers, perhaps.)

It was a simple request for a simple prayer that has settled in my heart lately. Going into our prayer time last week Henry asked the men if any had a prayer request. A new man, young, said, “Pray for my wife and child.” That’s all. A few words. Simple. It struck my heart. Does he believe? I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t know yet. But he knows prayer can’t hurt. He’s in a Salvation Army. Not a sign of the success he’s achieved. He needs. He needs God to hear his prayer for his wife and child. His plea has echoed in my mind. A simple prayer from his heart.

I grew up hearing people pray using different voices and words not ordinarily used. It was like they suddenly started talking like the King James bible: “We come before Thee…..In Thy precious Name…” It was too much for this tongue-tied little girl but I understood. This was what some did. Especially the older ones :)

We’ve talked about how to pray. With the men. They feel it’s too difficult to know the right words. But some of the most beautiful prayers I’ve heard are the simplest. It’s the heart. When the heart cries to God, in need or in praise, the words transcend. His word tells us the very Spirit of God speaks on our behalf. The simple words, the lack of words, our tears and sobs are carried by His Spirit to the heart of God. I don’t know how. I just believe.

I believe in the simple prayers. I believe in God.


Salvation Army Family Tree

Salvation Army Crest

The Salvation Army is a small world as evidenced by how many people are related. It’s commonly said, be careful what you say as everyone is related. So true. I’ve had as many as 10 relatives as active Salvation Army officers at one time. Some people boast of being 5th generation Salvationist. Our children were 4th generation on my side.

My brother at his Commissioning (ordination)

All of this means little more than it’s not unusual for some children to continue in the family business. I don’t mean to minimize their calling. It’s not unusual in many professions for offspring to follow in their parents footsteps. The same is true in Billy Graham’s family and many political families.

William and Catherine Booth had eight children. All of them carried on their parents work, except one born with severe medical problems, for some period of time. A complete, but brief, bio of each child can be found here.

It’s interesting that the oldest child and first son succeeded his father as leader (upon Booth’s death), however, he was deposed 17 years later by the High Council for being “incapacitated”. He was said to have become to authoritarian. More interesting is his sister, Evangeline, played a major role in deposing her brother and five years later became the Army’s first woman General.

Most of the Booths children didn’t remain in the ranks of The Salvation Army. The second son, Ballington, resigned his post in America when his father tried to transfer he and his wife to South Africa. Ballington in turn founded Volunteers of America.

Bramwell and Evangeline are the two children that have left the deepest mark on The Salvation Army. Bramwell with being credited as helping his father in the early development of structure and Evangeline as the first woman General and skilled leader.

The Army continues to be family centered. Perhaps it’s because we are unique in our combination of social services and ministry. Or the fact we’re relatively small. The average corps (church) would have less than 100 in their Sunday service. There are no “mega” Salvation Army churches though some, in America, may have a few hundred attend on Sunday.

We hold events regionally that help foster the family community. As a teenager I was in a car accident while on my way to summer camp in North Florida. I was with another girl giving me a ride from Ft. Myers. I was taken to the hospital because my forehead crashed into the windshield. By the time I was treated and released the officer from the  Salvation Army in Ocala, FL was there to pick me up and take me to the corps to wait. All my father had to do was call and tell the man what happened. Neither of us knew this man but we didn’t need to.

I suppose it’s in our blood, Henry and me. More than that, it’s where God has called us.


The Boss of Me

Our granddaughter has been with us this week for her spring break which didn’t coincide with her mommy’s spring break. Lucky for us!

She reminds me how much I’ve forgotten. Forgotten how a little 4-year old can be the boss of me.

She reminds me how I need to slow down and play. I’m not so good with pretend play but I pull out the glue, paint, sing Twist and Shout when she’s shaking something and can come up with silly voices to make her smile in that “are your crazy?” kind of grin she looks at me with.

We’ve taken walks around the neighborhood, sometimes all of us and tonight, just she and her Pwince at her request. She, on the “motorcycle” she adorned with sparkly stickers until her “bottom gets tired” and she walks leaving one of us to carry the pink, plastic big wheel. Yes, she’s the boss of both of us.

She’s been with us at the Center everyday this week due to commitments we had. I’d go in later and leave early and some days we tag-teamed. Our offices looked like a child care and no apologies were made for people needing to meet with us. Yesterday, however, was our day. The three of us, all day.

The new bathing suit she’d chosen earlier this week finally got to make its beach début. Hindsight has taught me a suit with a tutu isn’t the best to wear to a sandy beach. I hope my bathtub will drain properly with the sand that came off of that suit. And that’s after using the showers at the beach!

She has reminded me how scary noises can be. But once identified, the noise isn’t so scary.

She has reminded me how good it is to load the paint brush full and not to paint sparingly.

She’s reminded me how annoying whining is and how beautiful the words please and thank you.

She’s reminded me how important it is to choose the right Prince.


Sometimes I Listen

Putting another load of laundry in Anna’s words are still in my mind. She was updating me on her trip to Poland to see her 96-year old grandmother. “The hardest was loosing my brother. I told you about that, right?” she says.

“No. No, just your other brother you’ve spoken of.” I answer. Her stories mingle together, the gloomy gray cast on her trip to Poland and the tragic loss of a loved brother four years ago. The pain she has only been able to face recently, without crumbling.

She’s a talker, Anna is. She’s talked about her other brother and difficulties he’s had. She’s told me she and her husband have decided not to have children, about the remodeling on their house and her mother-in-law’s sudden death earlier this year. We talk about travel and trips we’ve taken or will take. She’s asked about my children, my son, in particular. It was during a difficult time when she first asked and my eyes reddened. I think that was it. That’s when our friendship began.

I don’t know Anna well or see her often but as I left she hugged me and said, “I always love talking to you.” Anna is my dental hygienist and I might think “of course you love talking to me. I can’t respond with your hands in my mouth.” but I think it’s more. I hope it’s more. I hope what Anna sees in me is a gentle heart that listens with interest. I hope there is something she sees or senses in me is more. Is this selfish to think this way? Too many times I don’t want to be bothered. It seems that way, especially with strangers or ones that pull that energy from you every time they give you that needy smile. There are days I don’t want to listen. To anyone. The sound of the clothes dryer is enough noise some days.

But on the good days…..and how can they not all be good days? They are. They are not all filled with energy or saying the right things. Still, they are good because I am loved. I am broken, tired, selfish and snippy but I am loved.

And being loved is enough.


My Favorite Child

Maybe it was before the time of recliners or maybe we couldn’t afford one but I remember daddy laying on the floor, prone position hugging a pillow as he watched t.v. The Smothers Brothers was one of his favorites and how daddy would laugh at their “Mom liked you best” routine.

As grown-ups I remember saying something to my brother about being daddy’s favorite as I am his only girl but my brother thought he was dad’s favorite. To have both of your children thinking they’re your favorite – that’s the best!

Some years ago I ran across an article by Erma Bombeck talking about her favorite child. Yes, she had a favorite. The one home sick from school and needed extra attention. The one who was experiencing their first rejection by a boyfriend. The one who didn’t get into their first choice for college. The youngest who just couldn’t keep up with the big brother. The middle one having a crisis at being the only girl. Her favorite was the one who needed her most at that moment.

We’re accused of playing favorites. With the men. Why is this one allowed that or that one didn’t get on restriction when the other did?

Things are rarely as they seem. We fall victim to the grass is always greener for someone else.

But we have our favorites. I do. My favorite was the one in crisis at the hospital when his wife was on life support. My favorite was needing to make trips to Daytona Beach to visit his dying father. My favorite messed up and needed grace. A hug. A phone call.

My favorite was the one I didn’t like and is back for his third time. My favorite says he still loves heroin. My favorite needs compassion. Love. Another chance.

Gathered with the 12 Jesus was asked by Peter who was his favorite. The bible records different words but that’s what he wanted to know. Who do you love best, Jesus? Me, me, me?

Not long after that Peter denied even being in the company of Jesus. Not once, three times. “I don’t know him!

And Jesus, with his unfailing love, showed his partiality to the one who needed him most when he met Peter on the shore and said to him, “Do you love me?”

The ones hurting, the vacant stare, the hidden pain, the failures…..we’re God’s favorites. He chooses us and that’s all that matters.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,362 other followers

%d bloggers like this: