Tag Archive | Legacy

What are you waiting for?


students and blog pictures, aug '13 023
I stopped by an estate sale on my way home from work.   A huge barn-like building housed rows of shelving with items of all sorts, shapes, sizes, and ages.  Apparently the big items had already been claimed by family members or sold to interested buyers.  What filled the shelves were the leftovers I assume.  Glassware, Christmas decorations, costume jewelry, kitchen utensils, even cans of cleaning products and a bottle of dog shampoo.

I cruised the isles looking for a treasure when my eyes fell on a white sheet and two pillowcases being sold as a set.  Crisply ironed, the set had lace attached that was exquisite, about 2 and a half inches wide along the edges.  It looked practically new yet it’s design and craftsmanship indicated it was not new but old.

And I wondered about the now deceased owner.  What was she waiting for?  Who would have been a guest worthy of such quality and beauty?  And why didn’t she enjoy them on her own bed?

Just when that thought entered and left my mind, I remembered an equally beautiful set of pillowcases with intricate lace tucked safely into one of my drawers.  They have not been put on pillows in a very long time.

And I said it out loud to myself, “What am I waiting for?”

I guess many of us have the fine china we purchased years ago and only use for special occasions.  But really, how long ago was the occasion special enough to pull it out?  Paper plates are so much easier to dispose of.  Or the every day dishes will easily go into the dishwasher.

A couple of years ago on Christmas Eve, I took my wedding china from the hutch that had belonged to my mother.  I had not used the china in decades.  But that year I set the dinner table with their creamy elegance.  I arranged the silver plated cutlery beside plates and put the cloth napkins in pretty napkin rings.   The ruby crown glasses were taken from a protected shelf and set at their proper place above the knives.

And that Christmas Eve Sweet William and I celebrated a special occasion with our son, daughter-in-love, three precious grandchildren, my dad and step-mother.

When the evening was over, I hand washed the platinum edged china, the glassware and the forks, knives and spoons.  It took time, but it was worth the effort.  I was able to share my best with the ones I love the most.

Two Christmases have passed since then, two years without our family gathered around the big table at the holiday season.  The one and only son does not live in the house next door any longer.  My precious old dad went to be with the Lord this year.

The family table is not the same anymore.

I stand there in the barn at the estate sale and wonder about saving things for later, about waiting for a special occasion.  When I have the time.  When life is not so busy.  When the house is clean.  When that project is complete.  When we have more money.  When the weather changes.  When . . .  ___________.  Fill in the blanks.

Is there a phone call I need to make?  A letter I should write?  Do I need to have lunch with a friend?  Should I extend the invitation?

Is there a word I need to speak, an offering of encouragement and a “you can do this” a person longs to hear?  Is someone waiting for an “I love you” from me?  Or “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.”  How about those who need my witness and my question, “Do you know my Savior?”

What is the special occasion I’m waiting for when the time is right?  When will the time be right?

Time is short and life is uncertain.  I have this day to live but not the promise of tomorrow.  I recall the admonishment to make the most of every opportunity.  Am I?

I left the sale not wanting to wait for special occasions to enjoy the bounty of God’s gifts nor to neglect to share them with others.

I was holding the set of sheets in my hands as I walked to my car.

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What are you waiting for?  

In honor of fathers

It took me a while to understand and to appreciate the fact that men are not like women.  If I had known it when I first married Sweet William, I think it would have made both of our lives easier.

But I love it that they are different.

As I think of Father’s Day and the men in my life, I am thankful.  So many have left their mark on me, have changed my life for the better, have shown me the face of God.

There are the pastor and choir director who encouraged this shy young musician to use her gifts in spite of her fear.  There is the uncle who gave me money to help buy my first car and sent me on a trip to New York City free of charge.  There  are the ministers who preach the Word that cut like a sword and healed the wound and helped me grow.  There are the deacons who take their role seriously, who visit the sick and shepherd the flock.  There are the teachers who challenge me to think deeply, to question what I believe, and help me confirm what “thus saith the Lord” really means. 

Men are focused.  I love it that they can stay on one task and not veer off until it is complete, unlike me whose brain scatters from one thing to another to another until I wonder how anything gets accomplished.

Men are protective.  I remember when my very young grandson, Ethan, was pretending to be in a battle.  He looked at me standing there at the kitchen sink and said, “Don’t worry.  I’ll save you.”  His DNA is infused with a warrior spirit to fight for and take care of those he loves.

Men are courageous.  It isn’t that they are unafraid.  It is that they are willing to go check on that noise in the dark or to tread foreign soil for freedom’s sake.

Men are tender.  I’ve seen them cry over a sad movie, trying to hide their sniffles.  The tough exterior is just a covering for a soft heart where gentleness resides.

Men are strong.  They exert their strength to lift heavy loads, to trudge off to work every day, to go the extra mile, to be there for their friends and families.

I come from a long line of good men.

My grandfather Charles Lockard was a minister of the gospel who paved the way for me disregarding the persecution.  Yet he was one of the gentlest souls I ever knew. 

My dad, John Rayhill, is a man who knows how to take care of the women in his life.  He prides himself that he never let my mother take out the garbage.  That was his job.  He was always busy with something but he was never too busy to stop for me or one of the neighbor kids who needed a bike tire pumped up or something repaired.

My husband, Bill Wright, is my hero.  He was a good provider until his health took him down.  He fought for our marriage when everyone else gave up on it.  He has endured so much pain and too many surgeries with courage.  He still tries to look on the bright side, and he makes the effort to be kind to the hospital staff and learn their names, making him their favorite patient. 

My son, Travis Wright, is funny and fearless.  He has an infectious joy that draws people to him.   He has been my Son of Consolation through many tough years.  He is a faithful husband and a playful dad.  He bravely left his hometown and moved his family to Oklahoma to pursue his dream (though I have not yet gotten over it). 

I honor the men who stand for God, who take care of their families, who protect their children, who are determined to do the right thing even when it is hard. Men who go to war so I can be safe, who fight fires and keep the peace.  Men who lead with courage and care.  Men who put their lives in harm’s way for the sake of others.

Thank God for fathers who show their boys how to be good men, who treasure their daughters and teach them how a man should treat a woman.  Thank God for fathers who love their wives and stick it out when it would seem easier to walk away.  Thank God for fathers who love and care for other men’s children who have walked away.  Thank God for fathers who discipline with love instead of anger, who set a high standard of living so that their children have a role model worthy of following.  Thank God for fathers who get on their knees and pray every day, who take their children to church instead of just send them.  Thank God for fathers who go to work, for fathers who know how to play, for fathers who teach right from wrong and walk their talk.

I love those men in my life:  my precious going-on-91 Dad, my Sweet William, my son of consolation Travis.  And there is still one more, our little man, Ethan, 10 years old.  He is watching these good men, listening to their words.  He will be influnced by their lives. 

May he follow their footsteps.

 “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”    –Deuteronomy 4:9

Hanging memories on the tree

I did not intended to put up a tree this year. 

It is so much work to pull out all the Christmas decorations from the upstairs storage area.  There are boxes and boxes in there along with some see-through bags of soft materials, and a few things simply protected with garbage bags.  It is intimidating just looking at it all.

Caregiving has been my job for such a long season this year.  Just the thought of adding to my daily work log was too exhausting to my brain.  Besides that, my family dynamics have changed this year.  The one and only son with his one and only wife and the three one-of-a-kind grandchildren will be celebrating their first Christmas in Tulsa. 

So what is the point, I thought, of doing the holiday decorating and just adding more tasks to this already overworked and emotionally drained woman.

This week I changed my mind.  I realized Sweet William and I needed a little Christmas.

Last year I purchased a small pre-light tree and stored it in the garage for easier access.  I went to its storage place and brought it in, stripped it of the large black bags protecting it from dust and insects and set it up.  Not too hard after all.

I went to the upstairs storage place and what do you know – the very boxes I needed filled with ornaments were right there in front.  I brought  the boxes downstairs and opened them.

At once memories came like a soft snowfall.  As I picked each one up, handled it and hung it on the tree, I remembered Christmases past.

I have a number of vintage glass ornaments from my parents’ collection during the early years of their marriage.  They were not expensive I’m sure.  Some have faded and the paint has chipped on a number of them.  Yet they are priceless to me as I hold them and think of Christmas as a child when life was simple. 

The plastic ornaments are from my early childhood.  Apparently I had broken quite a few one year when I was very small.  The next year my dad bought a box of unbreakable ones.

There are the small guitar and brass filigree basket, the ornaments I bought when Bill and I were first married.

The little mice ornaments were purchased when Travis was born.  We were in an apartment, and he was in his walker his first Christmas.  The tree was so fascinating to him.  He kept moving toward it as fast as his chubby little legs would take him no matter how many times I set him away from it. 

Over the years I purchased ornaments for Travis according to his interest.  So there are miniature cowboy boots and ice skates and a reindeer kicking a soccer ball and any number of little drummer boys.  There is a tiny pair of red Chuck Taylors which replicated Travis’ favorite shoes in his middle school years.  And the small car was hung on the tree the year he got his driver’s license.

When he went away to college, I bought a tiny red mailbox representing all the letters I sent him.  I didn’t get many in return.

There’s even a little Santa with a cast on his foot for the year Travis broke his ankle roller blading in the parking lot of Murray State just before he was to come home for Christmas.

There is a small picture of he and Renee’ the first year she came into our lives.

And then there are the ornaments added when the grandchildren came along.

There are handmade ornaments made by myself and others.  Some ornaments remind me of places I’ve been or places other people have been and that they thought of me while they were there.

Ornaments from friends, piano students, Sunday school boys, co-workers, and many others bring back the memories of those special people and how blessed I am with so many treasured relationships.

When the tree was decorated to my satisfaction, I placed an old baby quilt I made for Travis’ crib underneath the tree, its red, green, and yellow print looking quite festive and matching the colored lights all over the branches.

The decorations will be simple and spare this year.  Considering that I have much caregiving yet ahead and that I need to practice a little self-care right now, simple is OK.   

I have a wise elderly friend who has told me on many occasions, “Each Christmas is different.”  This year will be very different for Bill and me.  And I do need the memories from the ornaments hanging on the branches of our little tree.

Life as we know it will change like the ebbing and flowing of tides.  What remains changeless is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  It is Jesus, from His birth to His death and resurrection and to the hope of His return.  His faithfulness is constant.  His love is everlasting.  His grace will be sufficient.  His mercy comes fresh from His hand each and every day.

And thus I have reason to celebrate.

A light dusting

I was doing some light dusting the other day since I was expecting some company. It seems like most of my cleaning these days is light.  “A lick and a promise,” I used to hear my mother say.  I didn’t really know what it meant then. Now I say it quite often when I do a little of something with the promise I’ll do more later.

While I was lightly dusting the living room, I came to a large piece of furniture Sweet William and I salvaged years ago. It was actually an old record player in its youth, the kind that also stored records and was built into a massive cabinet. None of the works was in it when we bought it, but we could see its potential.  Bill, being the handyman that he is, put in a newer, more modern sound system. We now enjoy music that we can even control with a remote, something the original builder of the cabinet would not have dreamed of.

On the cabinet sits a number of frames holding family pictures.

 

 

There are great black and whites of the three grandchildren some years back.    

 

 

 

 There is a color of Travis and Renee before the children were born, plus another of their family of five when Ethan was still a baby in arms.    

 

 

In a smaller frame is a photograph of my mother and dad taken outside, about a year before Mother died.

Close beside it is the picture of my dad and step-mother, Esther, at their wedding day.

 

 

 

 

Recently, I added a photo of Bill and me, quite a bit younger when his hair was black and mine was what he calls auburn.  

The photos make a nice grouping of my immediate family members.

There are other things mixed in with the pictures that I realize have become very meaningful as I take in the scene as a whole. There is an old kerosene lamp sitting in the back right corner, behind the photographs.

An angel figurine that Renee’ gave me one Christmas graces the center.  

In the forefront is an item I remember being in parent’s home.   It is a small, old, wooden-looking plaque, framed in faux twigs. There is a tiny picture of Jesus on the left, you know the one that used to hang in every small church in the country.  On the plaque are printed words that have worn to a golden patina:

The Eternal GOD is Thy REFUGE.” Deut. 33:27

I pass that grouping quite often through the week, as I turn on the radio or CD player, as I walk to the piano to play a song, or when my piano students come for lessons.  I glance at those pictures of my family, sometimes stopping to examine those dear faces.

I realized this week, during my light dusting, that the display on the old cabinet is a sort of memorial.  The lamp represents the Light that shined on my parents’ pathway first and has permeated the hearts of each one of us in turn. The angel sits as a reminder that guardian angels encamp around those who fear God and have tasted His salvation and found it to be good. And the little plaque says what I know to be true, that yes, the eternal God is our refuge!

That truth has been proven to me for such a long time.  Through the thick and the thin of my days, in good times and bad, when we are healthy and when we are not, in life as well as in death, God has never failed to be the only refuge that remains stable in an unstable world.

I don’t worship there like it’s a shrine or expect that this vignette is somehow holy.  But it seems to be my “Ebenezer.”

The word Ebenezer means “stone of help,” and is explained in  I Samuel 7.  The story goes that the prophet Samuel took a stone and set it up at as a monument, something to remind the Israelites of the victory they had won by the help of their God.  He called the stone “Ebenezer.”

My grouping there on the old record player cabinet is my reminder . . . a visual of how God’s grace has flowed down.  I need to be reminded.  Sometimes I stop there and declare it out loud, “The eternal God IS our refuge.”

Too often my eyes get focused somewhere else.  Problems loom large in my vision.  Feelings overshadow my faith.  All that can block what I know to be true, that God is never far away, that He does hear my prayers, that He speaks peace to my heart and tells me “Do not be afraid.”

When I need a safe place, a strong and sure haven of protection, I can always run to the eternal God, to my Savior and Lord, who has always been, who is now, and forever will be my refuge.

  

I’m not a great photographer, as you can tell.  But I hope you enjoyed the visit in my living room.

Do you have a memorial in your home?

It is for freedom

I’ve celebrated quite a number of Independence Days.  Each one is a bit different.  I remember fireworks celebrations with our church group in a big open field at a friend’s home and small time stuff in a family member’s subdivision that scared me because of the lack of safety.  I’ve sat facing Salt River at our city’s professional pyrotechnical display with a giant ice cream cone to occupy my taste buds.  Then there was the year when the grandchildren were very small and Sweet William was prepared to “wow” them with some simple home fireworks.  At the very first shoot-off, the noise scared the children into loud weeping.  That ended our best laid plans for fun.

Last July 4th, the grandchildren were spending the night.  We made plans to attend Shepherdsville’s fireworks show, but rain prevented it starting on time.  I decided it was late and time to go to bed.

Just as I was tucking Ethan in, we heard the commotion of firecrackers and rockets in the sky.  I raised the shade in the bedroom, and there was the beginnings of a light show.  The children and I went to the back deck to watch.  Then we went to the front porch to get another view.  We saw colors in the dark night coming in the direction of one of our neighbor’s yards.  All of us in our house slippers and PJs began walking toward the light. 

We “oohed and aahed” as each pop pulled our eyes upward.   As we passed the oak trees along our route, Ethan took my hand and said, “I hope we don’t see that evil squirrel.”

It made me smile.  He seemed so little last year.

Each Fourth of July I get out the American flag, the one that was draped across my Grandfather Charles Lockard’s casket at his death.  He was a World War I veteran.  Since his wife preceded him in death and because my mother was the oldest of the three children, she was presented with the flag.  When she died, I became it’s keeper.

I cherish that flag and think of my Gramps when I carefully unfold it and hang it on the deck railing.  I feel proud and patriotic at the same time.  I hope people coming down my lane see it and think of this great country.  I contemplate America’s history and how we have been unusually blessed by Almighty God.

We Americans value our freedom, we relish it, flash it around, claim it, defend it, and dare anyone to take it from us.  I suppose it is the main reason citizens from other countries long to come here, to have the privilege of living a life that is free to choose.

I’ve wondered and have heard others wonder why God make Adam and Eve with the right to choose good and evil.  Couldn’t He just as easily have made us all permanently incapable of sin, to live evermore in a perfect world?  It would seem to be a much better way than allowing people to kill, steal, injure, lust, and turn away from a good God

But God gave man and woman the gift of freedom, the right to choose.  It was a beautiful gift He offered.  Too bad we make the wrong choices so often that we have wrecked and ruined our lives and our world.

I ponder what a treasure my American freedom is, how I am thankful to have been born a free individual, and how I want to treat that freedom with respect and honor.

I also ponder the gift of freedom God gave to me.  Even more, I am thankful for the gift of salvation that saved me from all the wrong choices I made in my “free-ness” to grasp what would satisfy my self-centered and selfish nature.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” said Paul to the Galatians (5:1).  As you have heard it said, “Freedom is never free.”  Our country’s freedom has been won and preserved with the blood of men and women who fought for it.  My personal salvation, offered as a free gift, was bought with the blood of a Savior-God who gave me freedom, watched me sell it for slavery, then willingly bought it back and set me free once again.

He who has been set free is free indeed!

May God continue to bless America, not because we deserve it, but because God is good.

My father’s chair

My dad called and said he was ready to let go of a couple of items, and he thought I might want them.  One is an embroidered picture my mother made as a Christmas present for him in the 1980s.  It says, “Life is fragile.  Handle with prayer.”  It was an appropriate gift for my dad who has been a prayer warrior for years.  His prayer life is an example of what it means to “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2).  The framed embroidered verse had been hanging over a chair in the basement of his and Esther’s home for the past 25 years.  

The other item was the chair over which it hung.  And that surprised me.  The chair came from a branch of the First National Bank in a downtown location when I was in my teens.  The bank was being remodeled by the company where dad worked.  Whenever there was a remodel job and stuff was being thrown out for the newer and more updated, Dad would ask if he could salvage some of it.   He brought home many a piece of so-called junk and found a use for it. 

The chair was such a piece and in decent shape, so he brought it home and put it in his workshop behind our house on Arnoldtown Road.  It became his prayer altar.  Dad went to his shop each evening and had his nightly prayer time.  It was as regular as the sun setting.  He did not miss an evening.   God was calling him to a prayer ministry, and he did not waver from his commitment.

The chair traveled to Shepherdsville in the late 1960s when we moved.  Dad built another house and workshop.   And the chair was placed in the rear of the shop where he prayed regularly.

Dad’s prayer ministry became well-known and quite eventful over the years.  People often came to the house asking for counsel and prayer.  Many times Dad took them to the garage where the person knelt at the chair.  I had my own personal “praying through” experiences at that chair.  I recall weeping there, pouring out my heart, and being aware of the presence of the Almighty.

When Dad remarried after my mother’s death, he took his chair and placed it in the basement of his and Esther’s home.  And the people came there for prayer.

At that chair my dad gathered thousands of prayer requests people gave him over the years.  Stacks of letters in envelopes, slips of paper, pictures of children and loved ones filled the area surrounding the chair that sat in the corner of his basement study with Mother’s embroidered artwork hanging above.

My dad knelt at that chair, too many times to count, calling out my name, Sweet William’s name, the names of my son and daughter-in-love, the names of the grandchildren, our familys’ names and names of people far and near.  Dad loves to recount Revelations 5:8* explaining that there are containers in Heaven holding the prayers of the saints.  He declares that he has filled a lot of those containers on behalf of those he loves and holds dear.

The chair became a sanctuary where dad met with God daily.

So it shocked me when dad asked if I wanted the chair now.  I didn’t expect it to leave the house until dad left this earth and was in the presence of God.  Dad explained that when he and Esther experienced the house fire in 2009, his prayer routine changed out of necessity while the house was being reconstructed.  During the six months when he could not go to his basement office, he changed his prayer habit from the chair to another place.  Now back in their house, he has arranged the many requests he receives at another altar so he can put his hands on them and pray over them each day.

Bill and I went to get the chair and the picture.   There in the basement I moved things out of the way to bring the chair into the center of the room.  It was a holy moment for me.  Memories flooded and my thoughts swirled.  The presence of the Lord seemed to hover near.  It’s not that the chair is of itself holy or some sort of talisman.  But it does represent a man meeting with his God.  A simple man, a sinner saved by grace, a life that was changed to become the image-bearer of Christ.  The influence of his prayers will be told in eternity.  Christ who ever lives to intercede for His children called this man, my father, to a prayer ministry.  And he has been faithful to it. 

The chair is in my home now, sitting in my kitchen.  I don’t really want anyone to casually sit in it.  It’s not that kind of casual chair.  It’s my dad’s prayer chair, the altar where he wept and prayed for many people over the years.  Since relocating it  to my home, I’ve knelt at the chair and I expect I will again. 

The chair is a place where my dad met with God and where God met with my dad.  It represents dad’s legacy, more valuable than any monetary inheritance he will leave me. 

Dad’s prayers follow me.  I am strengthened by them.  God hears my name often throughout the day because my dad prays for me.

I want to leave a legacy for my children and my children’s children by becoming a woman of prayer, by believing God’s promises, and by being faithful to pray without ceasing.   I  have a way to go.  At least I am on the journey.

*Revelations 5:8 – And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

 

How has prayer affected your life?  Who prayed for you?  Leave your memories here.

Precious in His sight

Vacation Bible School is over for 2011, at least at Little Flock Baptist Church

A week of VBS is experiencing Jesus words first hand, fresh and real.   What He said to His disciples, “Let the little children come unto me and forbid them not,” is lived out for five days in June.

The first day the children came filing into the pew where I stood with my purple second grade sign, their faces were uncertain, some a little frightened not knowing what to expect from this experience.  Would they get along, would they be accepted, would they like the food at snack time? 

On Tuesday, they came again, sleepy headed and wondering why they had to get up so early when school is out and it’s summer time.

By Wednesday, they came with assurance, knowing the names of their classmates, feeling comfortable with the teachers, understanding the routine, and beginning to know the words to the songs.  Some of them came talking up a storm.  Some of them shyly slipped into the pew and waited patiently.  Some needed lots of attention.  Some were content to be lost in the crowd.  Each one was special in his or her own fearfully and wonderfully created way.

These children who were placed in our care for four hours a day, Monday through Friday, were there to learn a lot.  Each rotation was to teach them Bible truths and reinforce the lesson of the day.  Worship rally started it all off with a big bang and rockin’ music while a group of children helped Mr. Tim lead and teach the motions to the songs.  Recreation was play with a purpose with the leader quoting a verse of Scripture before the children left him.  Craft time reinforced the day’s theme with an art project.  Missions helped the children think beyond their own little worlds.  Bible study included activities, games, and a story that wrapped up what we all were trying to teach them, that God loves them, that He is trustworthy, that He wants to be a part of their lives.

Reviewing the week has made me realize that I learned some things myself during those five mornings we spent together.

I learned that every child does not know the story of Jesus; and I learned it was a joy I can’t describe to plant seed into freshly plowed ground. 

I learned that some of the children are being well trained by parents and church teachers.  Sometimes they answered my questions with amazingly sound theology.

I learned that some children do not need to speak to be heard.  And I learned that listening to a child tell her stories can be the greatest gift I can give her.

I learned that I want more patience.   It takes a lot of patience during VBS.  Children can be . . . well, children. 

I learned that showing love to a child can spread to a family, can touch a hard heart, and can break down walls.

I learned that a week at VBS may be some of the most fruitful hours I spend in serving the Lord.

Children are precious to God.  He does not overlook a single one of them.  In His holy wisdom, He has given us adults charge over them.  Sometimes I honestly wonder why He entrusted their care to us when we mess up so often.  But He did and that makes what we say to them and do with them so extremely important.

One more thing, something I already knew.  Children grow up too quickly.  We have a short time to plow up the fallow ground, to plant seed, to nurture the tender plant, to water with the truth of the Word, and to love them the way God has loved us.

That is a tall order and not one I take lightly.  May God grant that I never offend one of these little ones, that I never push one away because I think I am “too busy” or have “important work” to do,  that I always remember Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.  Jesus love the little children of the world.

And so must I.