Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz

We're book people in this house.

There are books and shelves to house those books in every room in our house.

The old fashioned kind.  With ink and pages.  Bindings and covers.

I came upon this book in one or our small bedrooms, casting about one evening for the next book I would read.  I can't say that I had ever considered reading it, or had actually seen it before, and wasn't hopeful that it would be one of my more interesting "reads" of the year.

But it was and is.....

And almost unbelievable!

It is the true story of a Polish soldier and a small group of fellow prisoners who escape from a Russian labor camp in Siberia in 1941, and walk out to freedom through Russia, Mongolia, Tibet, the Himalayas and the Gobi Desert.

The journey takes a year and 4 of the original 7 make it to India and freedom.

I noticed some vocabulary words written on some of the blank back pages in Jon's handwriting.  When speaking with him later I asked him about the book.  Yes, he had read it.  No it wasn't in connection with his mission trip to Mongolia when he was in Vet school.  It was a book he had read for college at Wheaton.

Similar to Unbroken, it is a picture of incredible courage and strength of will to survive amid the  cruelest of environments with little or no resources.  It tells of the cruelty of people to others.   And the love and humanity and sharing of meager supplies of others.  The hospitality and generosity of the Mongolian and Tibetan people continue today, as experienced by Jon at every little enclave of settlers they encountered.

And the memoirs speak of the mercy of God, the resourcefulness and tenacity of  man, and the fullness of life after an unimaginable trial.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Funeral

I've never been to a funeral that has lasted two hours.

There was the usual worship, slide show, and sharing from family and friends.  There was a lot of laughter.  There was crying. There were funny stories, typical Rick memories, and realizations that he was more than the surface person we interacted with each day.

Everyone had given him a ride.

But the greatest moment was shared by his brother-in-law.

On his last trip to Walmart he asked Rick why he always said "my place", referring to where he lived and didn't just say, "home".

Rick replied, "Because it's not my home, it's where I live right now."  My home is heaven.

A revelation for all of us.

And as I remember him in future days, I want that to echo in my consciousness continually.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 2,2015

It was just the second day into January.

And we had a birth.

The little guy who we have all been waiting for came a week late.  His mom had been patiently living life.  Taking care of her other two.  Celebrating Christmas with us, celebrating her other child's birthday, doing puzzles, being uncomfortable, and waiting.  But he was born the second day of the year....perfect, healthy, chubby pink cheeks and alive.  Full of promise, hope, love and purpose.

We had a death.

And I cried.

I wept.  For a long time..

Not because lack of hope for him, he was strong in his faith, strong in his commitment to the Lord, and I know the Word tells us we will see him again, and he will enjoy the company of the one in whom he believed.

We won't have to debate with ourselves now, whether we should pick him up anymore. and adjust our schedule.  We won't have to look in the backseat or trunk to make sure we have room for his huge bag that he carried everywhere.  And we won't have to alter our plans to take him to his various destinations. And some of us won't receive calls specific to our influence in his life, I've got a scratchy throat, my elbow hurt, my colonoscopy date, my laser surgery, what can I take for..., do you know this crossword puzzle word.

It was an accident.

Life is tenuous at best.  My family is not unfamiliar with untimely deaths and accidents.  Even our aged who lived full, wonderful lives struggled with debilitating long illnesses and difficult deaths.  Weeping does  endure for a night and joy does come in the morning.

But January 2 has reinforced to me that there is only one thing needful.

And we are given only today to do it.  And then in His mercy, we get to do it again.  Persistently, not haphazardly, in a sort of self absorbed haze.   Not engaged in the lifestyles of our culture and controlled by misinterpreted intentions and disharmonies.

This life we've been given is finite.  It's brief at best.

We must,.... I want to, greet each day in expectant hope, tenacious faith, delightful expectation, strength of purpose and exuberant obedience.  Living in the present moment and observing His everyday epiphanies and magnificent realities.  Everyday is new for me.  Each day has meaning, a destiny which individually, we only can fulfill.  They all add up to a life that must be face with incredible tenacity, resilience, fortitude and direction.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

January 1, 2015

It's 2015 starting today.

Life flies by more quickly than any of us imagines.  How could it be the beginning of a new year?

That's one thing about time, it's finite and can never be retrieved.  We can't put it on hold, or have a time out, pause it or engage a slow motion setting.

But we capture it in our hearts, in our memories, as we live it day by day.

I guess I'm looking at this coming year and again realizing I want my minutes and days to count for something eternal, something lasting.   To help someone else.   To make someone's life better.

To live more in the moment and experience everyday epiphanies.

To be quiet and listen.

To be still and see.

To hold life close, and friends and family closer.

And to be ready for all the adventures that 2015 will bring!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2, 2014

It's our 42nd wedding anniversary today.

I've been married 2/3 of my entire life!

 And I think I can count on one hand the number of times we have spent our anniversary day together or really celebrated those milestones.

We have a different sort of life.

Today it was entertaining the Canton Study Club for our Christmas meeting at Litengard, then planning, shopping, preparing for church Christmas decorations which go up tomorrow, and Rob did his surgery cases, went to Cantata practice, and is back in the OR with a patient who has a ruptured appendix.

But the day doesn't really matter.

It's the years.

The years of sharing our lives with each other; the joys of starting a family and watching them grow, of moving to a totally different cultural area, of traveling the country and the world, of doing ministry together inside the church and the community, of studying the Word together and reading books and poetry to each other,  of starting businesses, planting gardens, teaching homeschool, vacationing, entertaining, attending meetings, decorating, painting, moving furniture, washing dishes and going to bed absolutely exhausted!.   It's the sharing of the pain of the losses we all face in the death of our parents and siblings, the loss of a beloved son in law, and the uncertainty of an unfavorable diagnosis, temporary discouragements and frustrations. projects gone wrong, failures in communication and misunderstood intentions and motivations.  We do it together.

And we can finish each others sentences.  And send each other the same cards!

Rob is everything I wanted in a man.  He's loyal and faithful and honest.  He's not flashy or arrogant.  And he thinks I'm beautiful and creative, even on my worse days.  He's smarter than I.  Actually, he's the smartest person I know and can speak with anyone on a multitude of subjects.  He knows baseball like the back of his hand, stats just start pouring out....just ask Tom and Colin, but football, hockey and basketball are not unfamiliar to him.   History, especially English and European are his specialties.  Music, he can keep up with the best of our Crane friends.  He can still do complicated math, science, and physics, and is a great teacher, just ask our boys.  He's a plumber, an electrician, a builder, a problem solver.  And he is a tremendous surgeon.  And most of all, he has followed the Lord for over 60 years now.  That's what I was looking for in a man.

I've been thinking about our 42 years together.  It's a long time, a lot of experiences, and we're still together, plodding onward and upward.   We have faith in each other.   We trust each other.  We trust each other with our time, our money, our activities, our lives, our commitments, our relationships.  I think that's a big factor.  It's freeing, liberating and restorative.

So, Happy Anniversary Rob.  We did say that to each other when we met briefly for soup tonight.  I'm excited to see what's in store for us, starting our 43rd year together.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

She is 88 years old.  Or rather young.

And she showered me with gifts the whole week we were in Hilton Head.  Books, CD's, pajamas, a crystal jewelry box!

Why?  Just because we were there, she wanted to bless me and it will be my birthday.

I've known her longer that I've known Rob.  She took me under her "wing" when I was 18 years old and has nurtured, loved, encouraged, prodded, visited, written, and praised me for the last 48 years.  She showed me how to have ingredients in the house so when "people" show up unexpectedly, you can invite them for dinner.  She modeled how to have neighborhood Bible studies and teach Women of the Bible to church and community.  She loved to look nice and continues to always looks nice  when she goes out of the house with just a "bit" of makeup.  (Something I need to practice) 

When I was in NYC for 6 weeks having radiation, she sent me a package every week.  Just silly stuff but boy did I look forward to the week in anticipation of the brown bag box.  The mask and the bolting down were minimized by those shoe boxes and the notes lovingly tucked inside.

But most important she showed me how to stay faithful.  How to think of others before myself.  How to anticipate needs and celebrate events.  How to take "time" away and sometimes have a pajama day without being guilty.  How to be creative with little and shop at second hand shops.  How to read and Word and really believe it.  How to expect miracles everyday, not always the big ones, but the little ones that show us that our Father is really there and interested in our everyday lives.  She believes Him for parking spaces, for finding a gold watch and a lost wallet.  She believes Him for continued health and taught Sunday School for 1st graders till she was in her early 80's. She came to the wedding,  she called us in Italy and had the mom's for lunch when we were together on the Island, and on each of our birthdays every year...she sings Happy Birthday into the phone.

She sounds too good to be true, but she is a real person.  Fran.

And I'm blessed to have her in my life.

I'm glad we got to spend a few days with her.  I miss her already!  But she is looking forward to bigger and better things for herself and Dick.  A wonderful future and a great expectation!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

His Birthday

I met him in 1967.

My folks had started to go to a new church, Hillside, in Armonk, NY.  And I went along with them when I was home from college.

His family had been one of the original members and he, while going to Columbia in NYC, was active in church on Sundays.  Singing in the choir, ushering, and helping his mom with her Sunday School attendance records, working with the men on the church building.

He invited me, by formal invitation, to a semi formal dinner at a restaurant in White Plains when I would be home for the holidays.

He was tall, thin, handsome, intelligent, kind and awkward.  But most of all he was a strong Christian whose commitment to the Lord, his family and local  church body was evident.

We didn't fall in love immediately, well, I didn't.

A move to Boston and increasing number of dates and fun activities sealed the deal for me.  He was the one!

We were married December 2, 1972.  Lived in the community that our folks resided while he did his residency in NYC.

So I've known him for 47 years!  Wow!

I'm proud of him.  He has always been a person full of integrity and honor.  He is the kindest person I know.  Still making house calls for those who find it difficult getting to the office after surgery.  He didn't try to make a "name" for himself  but tried to help all that came to him with their symptoms, large or small, in the two communities where we have lived.  He's one of the most generous people I know, not only with his family but those in our community, and abroad.  He still has a very dry sense of humor and sometimes I don't get his whit or jokes, I think his synapses are clicking too fast for me!  I know my vocabulary has increased since living with him and pretty much every question I ask about history, especially British history, he can answer.  He can hang a picture, do construction, plumbing and electrical work.

But most of all, he is still reading his Bible at 5:00 in the morning.  Faithfulness.

Proverb 20:6,7  "A faithful man who can find?  The just man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him"

Happy Birthday!  68 years!