When taking marriage vows, it includes for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. Over our many years of marriage, we have experienced all accept death. I once met an elderly man waiting in line for coffee at Panera. Looking outside, I said, ” What a miserable day out there!” He said, “Every day I wake up is a good one whether it be a storm, a hurricane or a blizzard. I am here and I am still alive,”he proclaimed with a little dance step.
Larry had back surgery– the damage was the result of years of construction work and sports-related accidents. The stress finally caused bulging discs, bone spurs and a pinched nerve that made it difficult for him to walk. Fortunately, our teacher and military pensions have covered the cost. But it’s July 2018 a very hot summer without air-conditioning and with a plethora of mosquitoes. It is testing our relationship. This is my former Marine husband who built our home, who tackled any task that came his way and who used his many gifts to help others. Now, I am his often inadequate caregiver and chauffeur. It has been difficult to see this happen but I thank God that Larry has a future. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble.” Job 2: 10.
As I write this entry, I’m looking out the window at the flowers and trees in our yard. We are engulfed in a green splendor with a chorus of birds singing at 7 AM. A stillness helps me tune into my Creator with thanksgiving as we take each day for Larry to once again heal and do the things he loves. I think of those who will not heal and whose condition will worsen with time.
Yesterday, we got mail from World Vision about the child we sponsor. They asked us to consider sponsoring yet another child, a 12-year-old boy from East Africa. I was hesitant since we also have one from Compassion International: but Larry really wanted to help this boy. We read that one of the boys from the soccer team in Thailand trapped in the cave with his coach was a Compassion International boy. And that the boy who discovered where the team was located was also a Compassion International boy. Both organizations are doing great things to help kids in poverty grown up to have meaningful lives.
As we face trials, I am reminded of those who need far more help than we do. It’s a (For Better or Worse) time and we hope to learn the lessons God wants to teach us to develop a life of character and compassion for others. We know we are not alone—-thanks to family and friends. The better times will come.
Do you remember some encouraging words you received from a parent, teacher, coach or friend that helped shape your life today? Conversely, you may have received some negative words that shaped you as well. I recently read a book entitled Just a Minute by the founder of Compassion International, Wes Stafford. In it, he discussed the power our words can have on young people and how our influence even briefly can help shape a life.
In my childhood, I recall an old black typewriter where I started coining my stories often about my brother, Bill. I even started a local neighborhood newspaper with a joke section about Fords being junk. My Dad, a Chevy owner, said “You’re a pretty good writer—maybe you’ll become a journalist or a teacher.” My mom shared her love of music by playing lullabies on the piano for us and introducing us to classical music. With words of affirmation, they both encouraged me to love reading, writing and music. My children grew up with the same passions and have surpassed me in their skill level. Larry read to them each evening went he got home from work. It was break time for me. He started with C S Lewis’ Narnia series and continued with Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Now Larry didn’t just read to them, he acted out each character giving them a voice and mannerisms. He had Gollum down long before the movie came out, and when Thorin Oakenshield died, they all cried around the dinner table. I remember one time I drifted off to sleep while reading a magazine. All of a sudden I woke up in a panic and ran down the hall to the kitchen where I heard,” Fire, Foe, Arise.” I thought the house was on fire. My heart was in my throat—— but it was only a line dramatized by Larry from The Lord of the Rings.
All three of our children were in plays and musicals and Aaron still acts regularly in them. They grew up with a passion for the arts and parents who encouraged them with affirming words and actions. The power of our words played a key role in their lives.
Conversely, negative words can also shape young lives. But that will be continued in another blog. Feel free to comment.
Early in our marriage when we were struggled to make a living, we saw this poem that has been our life inspiration. When we have problems, we remind ourselves that it is a first world problem and not a third world problem. We reminded ourselves that we still had daily food, clothes and a roof over our head. Somehow, it lessened our tensions and helped us focus on those that really needed help. We share this poem with you now.
“I was hungry and you formed a humanities club and you discussed my hunger. Thank you.
I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel in the cellar to pray for my release.
I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.