Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Winter Lessons

Lesson 1: Style always comes back around. Last week, the spring-like weather made me dig out my old Ray Ban wayfarers and wear them around.  The girl at the Starbucks drive-through (yes, I went there, sorry, but I had some time to kill and needed to use the internet) said, and I quote, "Your shades are totally awesome!  Where did you get them?"  I told her the absolute truth - my sunglasses were a gift from my inlaws before they were my inlaws, a Christmas present in 1988.  And I still have them (I don't really lose glasses, keys, wallet, etc.  It's kind of weird).  I also have my Von Zippers from the late 90's, purchased when the Ray Ban's went hopelessly out of style - they will surely come in handy in a couple of years.
Lesson 2: Kids grow up!  I know this, of course, but some days it just smacks you in the face again.  Grace and 5 friends secured their housing for next school year.  It's a beautiful, historic house in downtown SLO, across the street from a park that we used to go to when the kids were little (they called it "Spaceship Park" because the climbing structure looks like a rocket).  I didn't become a renter for the first time until after I was married, so it just gives me pause when I really think about it.  It's such an adult thing to happen, but then isn't that what we want anyway?  And then there's the soccer photo here, from the last home game of the season.  Where did that man come from?  The one who now keeps a razor beside his toothbrush in the bathroom, and is significantly taller than me, and drives me around town when he can?  Sheesh!  It does tug the heartstrings to think about it.
Lesson 3:  Last year, we had an extremely mild winter, and rejoiced, because soccer season was really easy and enjoyable for the fans.  This year, it was colder, and it rained more, but that was okay, because I got the world's most awesome umbrella for Christmas.  And yesterday, I saw a pink hyacinth blooming in the yard.  I love hyacinths.  They are pretty and they smell really good.  I suddenly realized we didn't get any last year when the weather was mellow - they need lots of freezing weather and rain to set and bloom.  And isn't that the way life is?  Sometimes there are really difficult seasons that we go through - the dreariness might seem too long to bear.  But beautiful things come out of them, that maybe just can't grow any other way.  And then there is a sweetness to be enjoyed for a little while.  So I am enjoying the beauty of the hyacinth in the yard, and am thankful for a cozy house to stay warm in until spring truly comes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What I Learned Last Week

Last week I learned that life can be tragic and beautiful, sad and amazing, all at the same time.  Dear friends of ours lost a baby boy, just weeks before his due date. We spent last week helping them, in very small ways, because that is all we muster, deal with unimaginable grief.   I spent the week feeling, on an endless rotating basis, very sad, helpless and frustrated (because I can't fix it), angry (because I don't understand why this would happen), and guilty (because my life goes on as usual, and theirs has seemingly stopped, at least for a while.  I was reading in Psalm 23 that "we walk through the valley of the shadow of death", but it seems my friends are stuck there, have been forced to camp there, to build a house almost, not just go through it).  Bible quotes feel so trite I don't even recite them, but at the same time Biblical Truth is what we are clinging to.  And oddly, at the same time, I saw beauty in the way their family and friends have gathered around them, in person and in prayer. 
 And even though sadness was like a blanket over the week, several good things did happen - a favorite former student dropped off a cd that he recorded and I spent much of Tuesday listening to it (it is really good - in fact, you can listen to it for free at  Each of my children texted me at different points during the week to report getting A's on two tests they had studied hard for, and we were all excited and relieved.  On Thursday night, we had a freshman girls' Bible study over for dinner, and 15 girls showed up...with homemade cupcakes!  We later hosted 25 freshmen for the Super Bowl, and enjoyed Jamey's almost-famous smoked ribs, chili, and amazing peanut-butter-chocolate-swirl cookies made by a freshman boy (I could hardly believe it!  I want to call his mom and thank her for raising him so well!)  
On Friday, I attended a small memorial service for little Charlie, along with Jamey (who spoke at it) and a few friends and members of the family.  While there was overwhelming grief, and many tears, there was also hope and grace and childlike faith, and an awful lot of love.  After the memorial, going from one emotional extreme to another, I headed to Jason's soccer game and got to watch my son, who was team captain that game, stop a couple of goals and play a great match (even though they lost; but just to watch him play was quite enough for me that day).  
Our days have gotten easier; our friends' days may get easier, after a long while, but they will be always changed.  I was reminded again and again that this earthly life is just temporary and that we hope for things to come, and we do not lose hope, ever, though things around us, that we see and feel, are sometimes exceedingly painful.  
In God's uncanny timing, my Bible verse for this morning was this one, from John 16: "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."