Becoming. That is where I am. Already and still in process.
Viewing my life from birth to birthday, I see where I’ve been and where I am. The years impart wisdom that only comes from living out my days.
I am becoming more comfortable in my skin, wrinkled and sagging as it is. I see how God is working in me through experiences of trouble, joy, sorrow, hard work, celebration to become more the person He planned when He fashioned my DNA.
There were days of hiding behind my mother’s skirts, fearful of who I was. Days when I wore a mask to hide who I might be. Days of putting on a costume in effort to conform to another’s expectations. Each was uncomfortable, and without being able to put it into words, I knew it wasn’t who I was meant to be.
Like an onion being peeled, layers of covering slowly, sometimes painfully, fell away, the pretense and pretending of trying to please and appease, of trying to be like someone else. Only let me be who God made me to be with no apology.
In no way does this give me permission to be rude or offensive, to commit sin or disregard the doctrines of Scripture I believe to be good and right. Nay, in following God’s commands I walk in the utmost liberty.
I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. — Psalm 119:45 NLT
I am free to follow where He leads, to use the gifts He gives, to accept my personality strengths, to recognized my weaknesses and cooperate with my Creator to change where needed.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. — Philippians 1:6 NLT
I am not where I can be, fully who I was made to be. But I am becoming.
Christ in me, I become more and more, year by year, the woman He is calling out. “Will the real Peggy step forward and live out her purpose?”
Before the days of ultrasounds and 3D imaging, I was left wondering if I would have a son or a daughter. When I became pregnant, there were no expectations of knowing until I could hear my doctor proclaim at the time of birth, “You have a boy” or “You have a girl.”
I don’t recall a secret desire for either. I just wanted a healthy baby. People told me they predicted a girl, something about the way I carried the growing life nestled under my heart. Some were convinced and gave me dresses at the baby shower given by the ladies of my church.
When I consider the morning sickness that lasted all day long, the girth of my belly, the stretch marks, the pain of labor and eventual C-section, it was all worth it. Seeing that beautiful round head as my doctor announced, “It’s a boy” veiled everything else.
The first time the nurse brought my son to the room and placed him in my arms, his eight pounds felt like the weight of the world. Realization hit me that I was responsible for this child. How could God trust me this much and was it really such a good idea?
I hoped to parent as I had been parented, with patience and kindness, lovingly nurturing my son and teaching him the ways of a world brand new to him. I failed a lot.
I was determined he would not be a shy child like I had been. I didn’t understand introversion, extroversion or personality types. What I knew was how I’d suffered from being painfully withdrawn. So I encouraged him to speak up, say hello, don’t hide behind.
One day while riding an elevator, this small boy of mine was friendlier to strangers than I was, and I knew I had nothing to do with that. This was who he was. His very own personality was blossoming before my eyes. I would discover him rather than make him into someone I thought he should be.
More than anything I wanted him to know Jesus loved him and to learn to love Him back. We went to church a lot. I read Bible stories. We talked about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I tried to point him in the direction of the cross while being woefully imperfect at modeling Christ-like character. I prayed for him.
When it became apparent that he would be our only living child, I packed away the dolls, small china dishes, a little bed and high chair my dad made for me, things saved in case we had a daughter.
We made room for trains and guns, matchbox cars and star wars figures, drum sets and bikes that let him do tricks down our lane as he called, “Watch this, mom” over and over.
I stayed up hours at night with him to help with homework. I walked the halls of the school, confronting teachers and going to bat for him, mustering courage that didn’t come naturally to me. I fought for my son, my inner mama bear emerging if I thought he was being treated unfairly.
He grew into a handsome teenager and girls looked his way. I turned over the keys to my recently acquired, new-to-me blue Nissan Maxima so he could take his date to the prom. He never knew how often I stood at the window watching him drive away from the house, praying for his safety, that he would return home in one piece.
I tucked him into bed as long as he would let me. Sometimes after a tiring day of working a job and working a home, he’d be in the mood to talk, and I knew these were precious moments. I hope I patiently listened despite my weariness. I hope that’s what he remembers more than when I was in a rush, was frustrated or short tempered.
He became and man and chose a wife, and I knew things were going to be different for me. I determined I would love the other woman in his life. I also understood I had been displaced from being the most important one.
Years fly by, as they do. Time, distance, and circumstances have taken us on our own paths. He isn’t close enough to drop by for a cup of coffee like he once did. But when he calls, my world lights up. His laughter is sweet like honey. He probably doesn’t realize how his voice on the other end of of my smart phone is sunshine on what might be an otherwise cloudy day.
As I look back over the years since his birth, I see how his very first tottering baby steps were leading him toward independence. His first day of school, learning to drive, finding a job, going to college, all of that was designed to take my baby boy into adulthood, toward becoming a man able to stand on his own. Had I considered it, I might not have been so anxious for him to learn to walk.
After I sent my boy a picture of the birthday box I mailed on Tuesday, he texted that he had forgotten. My response was, “I remember. I always remember you, your birth, your life.”
I identify with Isaiah 49:15 where God describes his love for Zion like this:
Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.
How could I forget how he changed my life forever? How could I forget the child I loved when I only barely knew he existed? How could I forget this one who is always in my thoughts and prayers? I cannot forget.
I find it beautiful that the Creator gave us the privilege of sharing in the creation of life so we could understand on a smaller scale His magnificent, ever-faithful, unconditional love.
It’s my boy’s birthday today, and I thought of him first thing this morning, before I plugged in the peculator, before I washed my face or prepared to read my Bible. I thought of him. I can’t help but think of him. He is part of me in a way too mystifying to understand.
He has children of his own now and we have an understanding between us. His love for them mirrors my love for him. We get it, this inexplicable attachment and devotion, going deep into the heart and soul of us.
I heard this recently, that the heart has secrets no language can ever express. Indeed it does. For I will never be able to describe in words how I feel about this boy of mine.
Let it be enough to say, he is my son and I love him.
It’s been quiet on the blog for over a month. I’m not sure why I haven’t written any posts. I could offer several insights but none of them really resonate. Suffice it to say, I took a little break, because there were no words.
Contemplation seems my path in this present season. And I’m quite glad I am able to think and ponder. At my age, the ability to reason and understand is not to be taken lightly.
In the nearly two months of blogging quietude, Sweet William and I have not sat idle. We celebrated recitals, graduations and birthdays. We traveled far and came home again. We watched the seasons change from spring to summer, counting the raindrops and measuring the height of the weeds growing in the gardens.
We had the opportunity to witness one current and one former piano students’ accomplishments, finishing high school and college. I spent many hours at the piano bench and around the table with the two of them, talking, laughing, crying, and praying. It is an extraordinary privilege to be part of their lives as they have matured into young adults.
Sweet William and I drove the many miles and long hours to celebrate our second granddaughter’s graduation. It was worth every minute of time and effort to be there as people gathered on party day. I was comforted to witness the support system of friends surrounding my family in this city, answers to prayers. And our granddaughter was glowing.
Mother’s and Father’s days came and went, and we endured. With neither chick nor child close by, nor living parents to honor, it becomes challenging to observe those days with gladness. I tend to seclude and surrender to my introversion, practicing self-care and allowing my emotions to be present instead of pretending something I don’t feel. It’s the way I cope. When the day is over, I move on, recognizing it is one day in the year, that my life is full of valued relationships, that I am loved by my family, and that life goes on.
Early this month, I sent a card to a friend whose birthday is one month before mine. It’s a reminder that the day of my birth is 30 days away. Birthdays have not been bothersome except when I turned twenty, leaving my teens behind. That was hard.
However, I am giving this birthday, my seventh decade, considerable thought, evaluating my health and my mental state, wondering about my work and the retirement years where Sweet William and I find ourselves.
Recently I pulled my 2009 journal from its upstairs shelf and read what life was like ten years ago. There were joys and sorrows mingled then as now. I understood the year as one who looks at the past. Events that occurred then had profound influence on what would come later.
The coming decade I enter presents me with quandaries that are different than ten years ago. When I entered my 60s, the aches and pains were less; my hair was darker; my figure was not as lumpy; my eyeglasses were not so strong.
Along with twenty or so piano students, I still worked part-time away from home at a job that challenged me and gave me a creative outlet. I loved the people with whom I worked.
My aunt, dad and step-mother were still living, though their growing frailty was apparent, requiring more attention and help.
My family lived next door then, and I was involved with their lives. I saw them weekly, sometimes daily, and enjoyed watching the grandchildren grow. In the old journal I wrote how I felt called to invest in those dear children, filling them with the assurance of my love, so that it would be a reservoir to draw from. I didn’t know then that in two years the family would pack up a big yellow truck and move west permanently. I hope I filled them full enough.
An old clipping I saved starts with “Grab Your Purple Hat!” as it describes how a woman sees herself through the years. Age 70 says this: “She looks at herself and sees wisdom, laughter, ability. She goes out and enjoys life.”
I believe there are still things for me to accomplished, meaningful work, projects to complete, art to create and music to play. I know there are people for me love and point to Jesus. I have questions to ask and I want to be the person who leans in and listens well.
I expect sorrows because that is the stuff of life. But I also anticipate joy, celebration and miracles.
The Bible is a familiar companion for my journey. The years of reading and study brought insight, confidence, and hope. The promises I hold close are more precious than ever.
Thankfully, life has taught me wisdom, a reward of growing older. I adapt more easily to things I might have taken too seriously years ago. I’ve learned to laugh at myself and am continually entertained.
God has been good these many years. I have no reason to doubt His faithfulness in my future. His plan is working its way in me. Sometimes it’s difficult, painful even, and goes against my grain. But I’m realizing His way is best. He knows more than I ever will. He does all things well.
The future is now. I can face it because I know the One who guided my past, who holds my present, and who will be there in the days to come.
As the fog clears from my brain early this morning, I remember her. It’s her birthday.
I plug in the coffee pot and turn the numbers on my perpetual calendar to November 4. And I think of that day 18 years ago when she entered this world.
I missed being at the hospital, thinking we had plenty of time to get there. Her three-and-a-half-year old sister was brought to us in the night while mommy, daddy, and the second set of grandparents hurried to labor and delivery.
I carried a pager in those days, and that was the thing that alerted me to the news. I listened to the message of “we have a baby girl,” with a mixture of joy at her arrival and disappointment at missing this important moment.
I suppose I made up for that one time not being there by being here in the house next door to hers. For ten years she lived close enough for me to hear her playing in their yard, to see her wave and shout, “Hi Grammy.”
I found two pictures recently of the lane in front of our house, and I wondered why I had taken them with no apparent reason. Then I spied three tiny figures walking toward our house. With a magnifying glass I could see them, my three grandchildren, ages three, four and seven on their way to Grammy and Papaw’s for who knows what kind of adventures. Hot cocoa, dress up, games, books – these were possibilities. She was the one out front, skipping along while her older sister held the youngest by the hand. Sweet remembrance.
They always brought the sunshine when the door opened to them, whether they came by one or by three.
We two are miles apart now. I miss getting to celebrate with this special young woman today. Our connection is the Birthday Box I priority mailed to arrive in time. It contains items I hope will please her, and a sealed zip bag of my special hot cocoa mix, because that is a memory we hold and my Happy Birthday wish across the miles.
She’s a busy girl now, with school, choir, friends and family activities. She’s beautiful and graceful, funny and creative, loving and her own unique self. I’m happy that she is happy, flourishing, and becoming.
But I miss her. Especially today. On her birthday.
So I pray a blessing to the Father who knows no distance. Whose hand reaches mine and touches hers. The One who holds her life in His strong hand and knows the way He plans for her to go.
I trust and believe that He hears my prayers for her. His heart is tender towards mine and the longing I feel. He sees the tears that gather in my eyes even as I write.
My Father’s heart is tender towards her too, His love far greater than mine can ever be. He has a future for her, and He will guide her to it.
“I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have Breath.”
— Psalm 116:1-2, NLT
The garden explodes with color in mid summer, heat and rain creating bookends to an occasional temperature-perfect day. The flowers are the reward for my years of plantings. And they are coming up everywhere, even in the walkway.
Pink ladies (aka naked ladies) appear in unexpected places. The first blooms of morning glories signal late summer, their vines wrapping spindles on the deck. My few tomato plants tease me with their blooms and still-green fruit. Thankfully, I have discovered a local farmer’s market where I purchase tomatoes that taste the way a tomato is supposed to taste.
The Canadian geese have returned to the lake across the road after being gone for months. Though they look like adult geese, I think they are the family of hatchlings seen in the spring. The younger ones are smaller and the largest goose is still very protective. They all fly now, coming and going at will, forming the signature V as if they practice for a long trip southward. It’s the beautiful cycle of nature, and I get to observe it from spring to fall.
The hummingbirds have been active at the feeder on the deck. They provide entertainment when it’s cool enough to sit on the glider. Maisie keeps trying to catch one. The female sits calmly and sips. The male flits around like he is on vigil and extremely alert. Kind of reminds me of a couple I know (here at the Wright House).
As in the cold of winter, we tell our Maisie that she is a lucky dog, living in controlled temperatures and feeding from our hands. Rescued from the streets of Mississippi, she has a happy home with us who dote over her. In addition to loving to walk the lane and investigate every smell like a roving reporter, Maisie takes her place on the deck with her nose to the lattice watching for the neighbors’ dogs or the rabbits that drive her to whimpers of longing.
Among the books read this month, one on CD that has been extremely long but interesting, is Dearie, the Remarkable Life of Julia Child. It reminded me of seeing her on TV many years ago. Her story is amazing considering she didn’t learn to cook until she was in her thirties. The book stirred my interest in all things Julia. I checked out Mastering the Art of French Cooking, perusing the detailed recipes, and I will revisit Julie and Julia on DVD from my library. I even purchased a used copy of The French Chef, which includes the recipes of her innovative cooking show first aired on educational television in the 1960s.
I’d really like to master a few of those recipes, especially the omelet and souffle. A copper bowl many be in my future, hopefully found at a thrift store.
Speaking of, my favorite thrift store is gone. Yes, gone, lock, stock, and barrel, and without my notice. I drove there with a friend this month, us excited at what we might discover, and the store was empty. I was devastated. Where am I going to find the things I need at the price I am willing to pay? I’ve gone there several times with a list in hand, and found exactly what I wanted, walking out feeling quite satisfied with my bargain purchases.
I had been looking for a gently used percolator there for several months. As a result of my store disappearing, I went to ebay, where I found a vintage Corning Ware percolator like Sweet William’s parents used when he was a teenager. I’m always experimenting to make that perfect cup of coffee. I’ve tweaked my methods to gain that rich coffee flavor I enjoy. I’m loving the somewhat old-fashioned way of preparing the pot and hearing the familiar perk. I think of my mother and dad, the many pots of coffee made at their home and how it is part of my heritage. Perhaps that is why I often approach a new friend with “Would you like meet for coffee?”
This month I got creative for Independence Day. I made a door hanging of red and white ribbons and lace paired with denim and buttons in honor of the Flag of America. Long may she wave! I will gladly pledge allegiance to a country that has offered me so much freedom. Brave men and women have fought and died for my rights to make choices and live free. I will honor them and my county by standing and placing my hand over my heart as I sing the Star Spangled Banner.
I celebrated my birthday and our son’s birthday this month. In his birthday box I included copies of old pictures, black and whites of his grandparents when they were in their twenties perhaps, him with his Granny and Gramps when he was young, one of him at about seven with his dad. They stirred memories in both of us.
Sweet William and I have been on a learning curve with our very first smart phones. We have finally gotten the hang of Google Maps, which was the main reason for purchasing the phones. GPS is amazing!
We traveled from one appointment to another last week and were uncertain of our route, so we turned on The Voice of Google Maps (I’ve yet to give her our own personal name). She directed us easily and tried to route us to a simpler way, which we did not heed, not quite trusting her yet. Later we found out she was right and we should have listened. Now she is my hero.
Sweet William and I have decided we need to trust that voice in our phones though we cannot see her and don’t understand how she can tell us which way to turn. How does she know all that?
How much more should I trust a marvelous, huge God who designed me and the world I live in, who planned from the beginning to the end, and knows the way that I take? How can I put my confidence in a voice in a digital machine, and not trust the Sovereign Creator of the universe. It just doesn’t compute.
Sometime I’ve not heeded His voice because of my lack of faith in Him. Later I learned that I should have listened to Him. He is altogether trustworthy. When He speaks, I need to pay attention.
A favorite quote this month is:
“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope and as old as your despair.”
— Douglas MacArthur
Having managed to live another year old this month, staying young as long as I can is a theme. Faith, confident trust in my God, and hope seem to be key.
I wake to the alarm, walk to the kitchen to make coffee, open the window and feel some little coolness. The dark liquid begins to flow into the pot and I remember: It’s my birthday.
How can I be this old when I still feel the same age on the inside?
I looked on the world wide web to search the day of the week I was born and this poem came to mind:
Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
While I was a Saturday child, my experiences have encompassed each day of the week. Haven’t we all?
Birthdays make me contemplative. Deep thoughts swirl and twirl and pull up scenes from the past. I remember a few simple parties when I was young, my mother and dad being the focus of my life, an only and beloved child. I’m reminded how becoming an adult changed birthdays, because there are responsibilities and work to be done even if it is your special day.
The first birthday after my mother died was hard. She made it significant. She remembered, even if everyone else forgot. Birthdays were never quite the same without her thoughtful touch on the day.
There was one birthday not too long ago when Sweet William was recovering from one of many surgeries in a span of three years. I expected nothing, but he’d arranged with some of the nurses to have surprises for me when I got to the hospital. It was especially meaningful.
There have been times when friends remembered me with cards and gifts, and I was shocked that they knew and took such sweet initiative to make me feel special.
I recall the year I turned sixty, coming home after a day of work, and being surprised by my precious ones who then lived next door. They came to celebrate. The grandchildren made a cardboard birthday cake for me, and I wore it as a hat. It became the symbol I coaxed each of them to wear as they celebrated their birthdays that year. It is a tender memory today as I look at those dearly loved faces.
Sweet William and I pre-celebrated simply on Saturday, and we anticipate dinner with good friends this evening. We will feast on their fellowship as well as the good food. And we will eat cake! Or something sweet and delicious.
I expect calls from those precious ones I long for who are miles away, sweet wishes bathed in love, their voices the gift I crave more than anything.
I have penciled dates on my calendar, plans with more precious people in the coming days. I intend to savor this birthday week as much as I can.
While there are projects I need to do, I sit and think and type away and look at pictures and remember, sipping on the second pot of coffee. The projects will be there tomorrow, of this I’m sure.
The plants have been watered, breakfast cooked and cleared away, bed made. I will do chores as needed while music plays sweetly on the CD player. It is another day in my life, a day to be lived. It is a time to be treasured, a moment to worship, because I will not pass this way again.
Life is a gift, to be lived joyously, to be treasured. Our days are determined by God alone. He will decide when it is enough.
Until then, let me live, strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus.
This day. It’s Sweet William’s birthday, and I think of the grace of God.
I’ve lived with this man longer than I lived without him. We’ve been through so much together. There have been hard roads and there have been joyful celebrations. It is the way of a life.
How is it that we have come to this place in time? We have been shaped and molded by our experiences. We have weathered storms, and though battered and bruised, we have come through victorious. By grace.
We have celebrated life together, cried at death together, and intend to walk together for as many days as the Lord gives us.
What to do for a birthday at this age when we have celebrated so many times? We have given the gifts and signed the Hallmark cards. God has blessed us beyond what we deserve.
And it is all grace.
If not for God’s grace, we would not be celebrating a birthday today. I am convinced of it.
So we will celebrate. Celebrate life. Celebrate goodness and mercy. Celebrate the boundless generosity of a Savior who gave us all so that we could join the family.
By grace alone, we were given life to live to the full. Thanks be to God for His amazing gift of life, Sweet William’s life.