Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Life, Death, Babies and Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mother-in-law passed away today. Fortunately, Jim and his sister, Karen, were able to be with her in Arizona during this time. Jim flew out last Thursday and had been holding vigil since. Lots of life and death decisions to make and the weight of it all has been heavy. Second-guessing mingled with mourning. I recently found old notes from a leadership conference which dealt with making tough calls. My notes said that in making tough calls, one must understand your part and God's part. Yours is to make the tough call. God's is to deliver you. It also said to pray for discernment and courage. I reminded Jim of this last night. He held great courage as he struggled to discern the correct tough call. Jim has walked beside and supported others as they were in similar tough circumstances making tough calls. It is much more difficult when it is your own shoes in which you must walk. He's a good man. I am so grateful he was able to be with Barb during her final days. It would have been devastating to think that she would die alone.

As is common when someone dies or lays dying, I've been thinking back over the last twenty-eight years. I've been remembering the first time I met Barb and Ed. Jim and I flew from Bangor, Maine to Phoenix, Arizona. Two days later on Christmas morning, Jim proposed in front of them. We went to an Arizona Suns basketball game that night and I never watched the game. I couldn't take my eyes off my new ring and the way the lights made the diamond sparkle. We drove to the Grand Canyon. Barb and Ed were in the front seat, bickering the whole way while Jim and I just laughed. They reminded me of the characters Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn portrayed in the movie "On Golden Pond." I've always thought of Barb as that character Ethel Thayer. I still smile when I remember that trip. Barb was always pretty upfront about things (and sometimes I wished she wasn't). One morning, while we sat drinking coffee, Barb pulled out a box of old pictures. She said, "I thought you might like to see what Jim's first wife looked like." At first, I was taken off guard, but as she shared the pictures I gained an appreciation for what she was doing. She meant no harm, she just wanted me to know it was okay to ask questions. I was grateful she did that.

Being so far away, I can only pray and offer support. It is a helpless feeling to not be able to be there with Jim. He was such a rock for me while my dad was dying. I would want to offer the same. I struggled with what to do as I waited. I decided to hold babies. Our church has been blessed with two new babies in the last six weeks. Jailen, born three weeks early, is six weeks old. Baby Drew, Jailen's "best friend," is three weeks old. I visited Jailen this afternoon and just held him after learning of Barb's death. Tonight, I brought Drew and his daddy warm chocolate chip cookies. I got to hold Drew and gave him a bottle while his mommy was at class. What better way to honor a death than to welcome new life?

In the midst of sadness, Jim and I feel God's presence.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

For Dave, Janet and Dan

Crown Wretch. I've written about it before here.

For my readership of three, I ask you this: please pray for my blog-friend, Dave, and his family. He is recovering from a third cochlear transplant this week after waking up completely deaf a year ago. His wife woke up yesterday, struggling for breath due to complications from leukemia. It is a dark time for them. They are a source of inspiration for me with their spirit and determination. It is difficult for them right now to see the light and feel hope. Their 15 yr-old son, Dan, must contend with not one ill parent, but two.

Pray, also, please for Jim and his mom as they wait.

Isaiah 40:31 (King James Version)31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gee, I must be an idiot

Okay, no comments from the peanut galleries out there.

I was half listening to various news channels this morning while blog-hopping (I think it's an addiction). What made me stop and take notice was a feature on Hollywood's support of Barack Obama. It appears that Hollywood is a huge supporter (I know, it's such a surprise) of Obama. Donations from Hollywood for Obama total 15 million. Hollywood support for McCain is about 1 mil. (For the record, I have yet to make up my mind for whom I will vote. I find good and bad in both candidates. I continue to research the candidates in order to be able to form a more valid opinion. I don't, as a rule, vote along party lines. I vote for the candidate that I believe is better able to lead this nation).

Now, I believe everyone has the right to their own opinion on the presidential race and it is fine by me that someone may choose differently than me. The thing I find utterly offensive is that Hollywood thinks I'm an idiot. Key players in H-town seem to think that I care what they think. They also act as if I will take their lead and vote for their candidate of choice. Tina Fay, SNL comedian, has been doing spot-on impersonations of Sarah Palin since she became the VP choice for John McCain. She recently said at an awards ceremony that she hopes to only "have" to play this woman until November 5. Well, okay, Tina. Then she went on to emphasize something about how good it will be for her if she doesn't have to play her after Nov. 5, implying that we should really care about her well being over this issue. Get over it, Tina. If you don't want to play her, don't. I really don't care. If you spend much time watching anything related to Hollywood, you will hear them tout their personal opinion on the candidates. Me thinks their egos are a tad bit too large. During the last presidential election, we were subjected to more of the same. Comedian, Jenean Garofolo, thought I would like to know her opinion on the candidates. She was very in-your-face about it. Now, I'm not interested in her opinion about toilet paper or bug spray or the weather, so why would I care who she thinks we should have voted for? Overblown sense of importance?

What I do care about is this: when you vote for a candidate, please, please, please base your vote on your own research. Please, please, please don't cast your vote based on who your favorite actor, neighbor, postal carrier, or film maker is voting for. If you do that, you give up your right to think on your own. Casting your vote is too important to give that power up to others.

In the last few weeks leading up to the 2004 presidential election, my father (whom I loved dearly) sent a mass email out to all family members. He said, "I will take it as a personal affront if any member of my family votes for ..." Needless to say, thus began a barrage of irate responses from the masses. It got pretty ugly for a bit. Now, I rolled my eyes when I got Dad's email because my thought was that what he was hoping to do backfired. Rather than discouraging votes for a candidate, his words caused family members to dig in their heels. One family member (whom I also love dearly) sent out a mass email regarding a movie-of-the-day she had just seen the night before. It was Farhenheit 911, the Michael Moore horror flick about George Bush. This family member commented that after watching the movie there was no way she could ever vote for George Bush. I wrote her back and said so don't vote for George Bush, but please, please, please don't do it because of some movie you saw. Please, please vote for your candidate because you've done your own research and formed your own opinion. Please? Please.

These are exciting times. We have running in this election a black man for president and a woman for vice president. Whichever candidate wins will bring a historic moment to this nation. I kind of think we are a wee bit behind the times though. For most parts of the world, these precedents are old hat.

So, anyway, don't let Hollywood or anyone else form your opinion. Take the time to research, think, and evaluate. Then cast your vote. Please cast your vote.