Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tender Mercies

This morning I awoke to the news of a shooting; with every button-push of the remote I could see it, hear about it, and imagine it as it might have been. The day rocked on and the information never stopped. Updates continued to pour in from resources all around. We all had heard about the who, some speculations of the whys, but it may be days or weeks before we all really know the truth.

We would hear about the assailant, and we would hear about the victims. We would hear personal testimony’s, video re-plays, and see a book that took the hit of a bullet and possibly saved a life. We would hear expression-filled voices declaring their disbelief and their fright. And wait, we would wait; for names to be released, worried and wondering would it be someone we knew.

My mind wandered back to the countless hours my oldest son spent in that same library during his under graduate years of college there; how many late nights he would be on campus, coming to and from that place that should always feel safe. For the parents of students who were originally from out of town, what a horrific feeling of dread must take over until you hear the sound of your child over the phone, and you know that for now, all is right in the world again.

But more than all of that, this is what else I witnessed today: People/students of all fan bases, different school colors, football rivals, and well-known mascots; standing as one, united and strong, praying for everyone involved. Candlelight vigils on the campus green, students holding hands and the quiet chant of the school fight song, ringing clear and strong for all to hear.

For this one day, everyone put aside their petty differences, stopped arguing over standings and who ranks the highest this week, who has the toughest schedule or best academic programs. They all, fans, parents, and students alike, became one and the same; just people who were stunned and in disbelief that this could happen to them and so close to home. This happening is what you saw on television, in other places, happening to strangers; not people you know and love. Not your friends, sisters and brothers, or children.

We are left praying for the recovery of three victims and their families, the family of the assailant, and the police who reacted with amazing swiftness and speed, bringing resolution and safety with them as they acted in the line of duty. We must hope that everyone’s minds and hearts will recover and they will once again feel safe in the place that has become their second home.

Every year I give thanks for all the people in my life and the things that sometimes I take for granted. But this year, I will say a special thanks be to God, for his tender mercies and love shown through the actions of others today. May this Thanksgiving Day be one of the most meaningful for us all.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shotgun Rider

You find each other, you date, you like, then fall in love, he proposes and the world falls into place. For about a minute, it falls into place. He still has to get past your father, your mother, and any brothers you may have. What a stressful time it is for the young man who believes he has found his bride to be, the love of his life, and the possible mother to the children he will help create. For it seems, he must essentially make the whole family fall in love with him in order for the plan to really work properly.

That’s how it all works the first time around, now consider this: You’re fifty some odd years old and you once again, for real this time, meet the love of your life; these things really do happen, I know this personally. Now at this point, it’s pretty conceivable to say that maybe he already has some grown children of his own, and she already has some grown children of her own. Heck, at this stage of life, they may both already have grandchildren.

But believe it or not, young or less young, the ritual is the same, you meet each other (man it feels more awkward than either of you remember), you date (and doesn’t THAT seem weird after all these years), he proposes (sweating and more nervous than he surely thinks he should be), she accepts, and the world that has been so lonely, jumbled and chaotic seems to once again, fall into place.

Oh but now, now things are so very different. He’ll have a whole new host of people that he must
win-over and make fall in love with him. At this time in life, her father has passed, but nary mind about that; for her mother, some brother’s, a son and two daughters will be the toughest opponents he may ever face again in this lifetime.  My gracious, you haven’t faced a tribal committee complete with headbands and war paint, until you’ve had to pass the inspection of grown offspring.  I mean, truly, who IS ever good enough for THEIR mother? The woman who was there for everything, their whole lives? This man, is absolutely going to have to prove that he’s the meant-to-be-man to get through the gauntlet of apprehension her children will have in the beginning.

Finally, the big day is here. Two will become one, bonus families will unite and join them, and the lucky ones will sit in pews and bear witness to this beautiful event. Her very own son will present them to Jesus as he leads the reciting of vows, and her family will flank each side, watching intently as it all unfolds; her last call for riding shotgun.

The bride walked down the aisle to begin her new forever, with my grandmother’s borrowed handkerchief gently tucked into her bouquet. I feel sure my grandmother and her father, now newly-made friends, sat together in heaven, and joyfully watched minutes fold into happily ever after memories. Amen. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Journey Continues...

It was said by those who should have known, that she was a sweet little girl when she was but a young thing, full of laughter, life and all that was good.  She certainly can’t remember back that far, but she knows that laughter has always been a big part of her life.

From the time her developmental age would begin, she somehow knew she didn’t have a personality that could be pin-pointed, no type of friend-circle that she would call home; although she seemed to fit-in most anywhere.  She would carry a determination and confidence that was seemingly strong and sure; but on the inside she would remain an enigma, even to herself. Her body and its shape of little girl chubby would follow her through grade school; causing personal inhibitions she would struggle to overcome.

Time would move on and she would still remain the funny girl but with a fast developing, salty mouth. She would sprinkle her stories with salt and vinegar to re-direct sadness or any other attention that felt negative or false. She was smarter than she achieved, and academics and the results of, were mediocre at best. Her body would begin to change, to have shape, and she would visually begin to like herself along with the boys who had begun to notice her.

High school would be a combination of coming into herself, and into life. Her confidence would continue to build and she learned to express herself with not only the spoken word, but with the written word. She would become the editor of the school newspaper, writing/righting the wrongs with words for everyone. She would join a school club, Future Business Leaders of America, get a job and a paycheck, and quickly learn, that money makes the world go ‘round.

Secondary education did not interest her, she would go to work, and continue to figure life out. She would get married three short years later; not to the right man, but to a necessary man, the man who would give her life’s best gifts of all: her children.

She would be married, divorced and single again for the sum of twenty-three years; the exact age she was when she would have her first child. The amount of life she would experience and learn all those years would be tremendous. Some of those years kind, some not, but all exactly as they should have been.

The circle of life would repeat itself, she would marry the real love of her life, gain some beautiful people as her bonus family, her own children would become amazing adults, and life was better than she’d dreamed. Her voice would find paper again; sharing her stories and her life, in hopes that she would touch someone along the way. She’s taken the roads with the most resistance; regrets few, do-over’s none.  

By the time you’re reading this, she will be fifty-one years and two days old. She will be so proud to have made it this far, and ready for the rest. Happy day of birth to her.