Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

1. Today is a sunny, warm spring day in Charlotte, but
2. We are now in a "moderate drought" because we have had only six inches of rain thus far in 2006 whereas the normal is over thirteen inches. I'm gonna do a rain dance as soon as the sun goes down; I don't want the neighbors to think I'm totally nuts. Well, they probably think that already, but a dance would be a little over the top, I suspect.

3. Today we woke up with only half of our children on the premises because
4. Kristiana had spent the night at her best friend's house. Yeah for her! Daniel is off to a friend's house tomorrow for a sleepover. Oh, to be able to just run away for a night or two to eat ice cream, watch movies, and giggle all night long. Hey, wait! I can do that with my hubby any time - Yeah for us!

5. I was in the supermarket for the second time this week because
6. Sunday is Easter and I've gotta do a lot of cooking. A ham (this is the first time I have ever purchased and made one), sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce (from scratch), salad, and biscuits. Dessert will be key lime pie and butterscotch squares. And no southern meal is complete without sweet tea to drink. Should be yummy. Plus there will be jelly beans, lots of jelly beans.

7. Tomorrow night I'll have to go to bed early because
8. Early on Saturday morning, I will have to translate everything I know about the Dead Sea Scrolls into Spanish for the women to whom I teach a biweekly Bible study. We are planning to go see the Scrolls next Saturday, but the audio tour is not narrated in Spanish. In May, we are heading to one of my new favorite places: the Biltmore House. Most of them have never seen it, so I'll be the guide again, explaining what I know in what we laughingly term "the language of heaven." I laugh, but I think they are serious. By the way, what I don't know, I mostly make up.

9. Next week, we will have a very low key week of homeschooling because
10. The children have to take their California Achievement tests. For some bizarre reason, North Carolina homeschoolers cannot take the North Carolina achievement tests. So California, here we come!

11. Last night, the group in which I met Laurie had a discussion about how we can be a loving, supportive family for Laurie in the coming days and weeks. She's gonna need all the help, hugs, and hot meals she can get. It's the very least we can do. Recently I read or heard the story of a man who moved into the house of someone who'd lost a loved one. Let me explain: when all the dust settled, the relatives went home, and the meals stopped coming as regularly, this friend of the family packed a suitcase, a stack of books, and just went over to stay. For about a month, he sat in the living room reading, doing the crossword puzzle, napping in the afternoon, and sleeping there through the night. He helped out around the house with cleaning, cooking, whatever was needed. But his main contribution was simply his presence; the bereaved family was never alone. Someone called it "the ministry of being there."

12. Laurie shocked everyone in attendance at the funeral yesterday as she stood at the pulpit and told nearly a dozen stories of Christopher's young wisdom, gentleness of spirit, and undaunting courage in the midst of his crisis of health. After one particularly tough episode of trying to catch his breath, he called her to his side and with the oxygen mask over his little face, he rubbed her arm and told her, "Calm down, Mommy, calm down. Everything's going to be okay." Her strength as she told those tales was unimaginable to me. But when it was time for the burial, her heart broke, and we all reached out with the hands of compassion and support to try to catch the shattered pieces. I will never forget her howls of sorrow that erupted from the deepest chasm of grief as she approached the gravesite where the smallest casket I have ever seen was being laid to rest. Not a dry eye on the premises. No one should have to go through what that woman has suffered.

13. One of my favorite Bible stories is found in Luke chapter 24 where two disciples are walking from Jerusalem to their hometown of Emmaus. As they walked along, they talked about all that had happened just days before: Jesus had been taken prisoner, tried, executed, and buried. Rumor had it that the tomb where he'd been laid was empty and that He'd risen from the dead, but they hadn't seen Him. Somehow, Jesus joined them as they walked, and He asked them one of the most important questions anyone has ever asked: "What are you talking about as you walk along together?"

It seems like a simple question. It is a simple question. But it is also profound. When was the last time that someone asked you what you were talking about, what you were thinking about - and then they took the time to listen to your answer? When has someone genuinely showed interest in what was on your heart, especially when you were in a time of pain, fear, or distress? Without advice or suggestion or correction? Just asked???

As we talked about the best ways to walk through this valley of the shadow of death with our friend, I was reminded of this story. There is something powerful about sharing our life journey with those we love, with those who suffer, with those who have lost their way. There is something powerful about listening to the stories, the anecdotes, and the wails. With our hands and fingers intertwined, with our heads huddled close enough to hear even the whispers, and our hearts burning within us, we are determined to get through this. Together.

The story of the road to Emmaus doesn't end at that point.
But my blog will.
For me, right now, this is all I need to ponder.
Someone cares what I'm talking about,
what I'm thinking about,
what's troubling me.
He has asked me to cast all my cares upon Him.
More than that, He has given me a loving husband,
two wonderful children, and many caring, involved,
attentive friends to walk with me on my life road.
And for me right now, for today, that is enough.

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