WE’RE MOVING…COME ON OVER…

Come on over.  I’m not moving very far away.  I’ve been here at wordpress.com and am moving to .org…sort of.  It doesn’t look that way on my address, but that’s where I’ll be.  I’ve also changed my name, but I think I’ll be doing a lot of the same things I was doing before, possibly in a bit more orderly fashion…at least once I get fully moved.  Here’s my new address…just click the link and come on over to Gritty Grace!

A SNAPSHOT OF OLD AGE…

I wrote this last week but it took me awhile to process and edit.  It is long for a blog but I decided to leave it in one piece.

A DAY OF WAITING

I’m writing this on Tuesday evening after Ron’s prostate surgery (7/13/10).  I am weary.  I don’t mean I’m tired, I mean I am weary to the bone.   Pretty amazing since I have been sitting and waiting most of the day!  This is the culmination of our summer.  In a way, the planning of our year!  We learned that Ron would need this surgery in December.  We knew there wasn’t a rush, but his bladder was starting to show the strain of being partially blocked and this work needed to be done.  My feeling was “Let’s do it as soon as possible and get it over with.”  His was, “Let’s delay it as long as possible and maybe it will go away.”  That is a typical tension in our marriage.  It has always made for an interesting marriage and keeps us both on our toes.  He calms me down…when I listen to him (which is most of the time!).  I keep him moving forward with a challenge here and there that he chooses to implement or not in his own way.  We complement each other.

OUT OF SYNC?

Unfortunately, we have been out of sync in some ways the last couple of years.  There have been a lot of factors.  A huge factor has been my full-time 3-11 job.  In addition would be a major move that we still haven’t settled in from, a “career change” for him (now retired) and  of course our innate desire to serve ourselves and our personal agendas.  We had not anticipated the ways in which my job would interfere with our relationship.  I need a system and routine to function and get things done.  Since we have been back in Tyler, I have not been able to get into one.  Every time I get close, some major change comes along to ruin the opportunity. (Structure takes work for me.) It seems that our evenings were the times we did a lot of our encouraging and talking and positive helping of one another.  With more evenings together now (I’m part-time), we are doing better, but we developed some bad habits during that nearly 1 1/2 yrs. and have struggled since we have been back “home”…forcing us to lean on Christ in ways we haven’t before.

LIFE JUST SEEMS TO GET MORE COMPLICATED!

Anyway, shortly after we found out that surgery needed to be done, I had a seizure (after a six-year pause).  That always means six months without driving for me.  It also throws a huge monkey wrench into our organizational structure (such as it is).  No longer can I do certain errands and Ron do others.  We have to do errands together (if they are my errands) or Ron can do his separately.  It takes a gouge out of his schedule and cramps mine a LOT!  With the seizure came the decision to delay the surgery until I could drive again so we set the surgery for today’s date, July 13.  Once again, OUR plan was thwarted by my second seizure shortly before I was to drive again!

GOD IS FAITHFUL AND CAN BE TRUSTED

After years of walking with the Lord, raising children, seeing the faithfulness of God both in our family and up close in the lives and families of people in the churches we have served, you might think that we would just brightly and cheerfully smile and trust God with joy and excitement when the challenges of life come along.  I wish I could say that we do. It does happen sometimes, but when we feel trapped in a corner with walls on every side, we react in the much the same ways as many of you do.  We are afraid, question what is going on, go inside ourselves and often take our eyes off Christ.  At times it even spirals down to “Why me?” kinds of thinking.  It is a mess!  That is one way we are similar.  I get way more down than Ron, but we get very quiet when we are worried or processing our struggles.  We are much more likely to  at least partially process them before sharing them with each other because we don’t want to add to the other person’s load.  (I’m not advocating for this, I’m just telling you what happens.)  It makes for a quiet house at times, believe it or not!

It was such a relief when Ron’s surgery went smoothly and well.  We have had enough things go wrong that we know our prayers won’t always be answered with a “yes”.  We have learned that this is a loving and faithful God that we worship.  But just as a two-year old doesn’t always understand the “no’s” of a loving parent to be loving acts, we are often in that position with God.  Our perspective is very small.

THE BODY OF CHRIST GIVING GRACE

It is interesting how some seemingly small acts today were so touching!  When a friend, who picked me up and brought me home at the end of the day, made the arrangements for my pick-up tomorrow.  I could have done it, but when she called back with the arrangement made, it felt like a huge load off my back!    I also had the opportunity to encourage some friends who are in the hospital today with scripture that has encouraged us.  The Body of Christ was alive and active.  We were helped and encouraged and were able to help and encourage others.

It was a good day.  So tiring.  Such a relief.  Ron is okay.  The surgery went smoothly and he is doing well.  I can rest.  I have a ride tomorrow.  God is good.

Be encouraged by Psalm 145:13-21 (the whole Psalm is great!)

[The LORD is faithful in all his words

and kind in all his works.]
14The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

PORTRAIT OF CHANGE II…

illustration of change--its effects on the changer and the changee!

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about change.

  • Change is very disruptive.  Observe the photo.  Imagine how disruptive that sidewalk (that is half finished) was to the roots of the tree!  To say nothing of the pain to the tree.
  • Change is costly, but not as costly as NOT changing.
  • Change takes time and usually involves a process.  It is rarely instant.
  • Change is almost always messy.  Expect it, plan on it, embrace it…and the messy people around you.  A lack of messiness might indicate stagnation or apathy.  I didn’t think much about this until I was looking closely at the photograph.  It reminded me that the messiness that comes with change is a major part of what we don’t like about it.
  • In theory, at least, we all want order and some predictability in our personal lives.  This is true particularly in relation to our spouses, children and the people around us.  The reality of this dream is not nearly as desirable.  We need a little unpredictability, some spice in our lives.  We need some color to give some pop to the everyday beige.  In many respects, that is what happens when God brings change to our lives.  We don’t always appreciate it at the time, but eventually we do.  For those of you who have lived awhile, think of the moves you have made for a job.  Not all were exciting, some were downright difficult!  But when you look back on them, wouldn’t you say that many of the them, even if difficult, were good because of what you learned, or the deepening of a relationship that came as a result?
  • How has God used change in your life to grow you?  I love comments.

The good news:  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature… II Peter 1:3-4

PORTRAIT OF CHANGE I…

New Andy Woods Elementary School

Over the past year, a change has been taking place in our neighborhood.  The local elementary school that was built circa 1957 has been deemed unworthy to endure (as a building) into the twenty-first century.  The primary reason, as I understand it, is because it is not up to post 9/11 security standards.  For this reason, Tyler is rebuilding nearly all the schools over the next few years.  This school, Andy Woods Elementary, is in the second batch of schools being rebuilt.

In the spring of 2009, the former playground was turned into a construction site for the new building.  The once quiet street (Fry) the school would now face became home to large concrete trucks and other heavy machinery lumbering up and down with their supplies.  The street, now congested with the workers’ cars was more difficult for the residents to navigate.  Fortunately for us, we live about a block from the nearest part of the construction so we were not affected by all the disruption…at all!  The trucks came from the opposite end of the street to get to the site.  The noise was just out of earshot for us.  We could occasionally walk down and view the changes on the building and enjoy  watching the new school as it was built.  It really didn’t affect us on a day-to-day level.  Now that’s my kind of change!

This past week, the final demolition of the old school was completed.  They are finishing the grading of the land where it used to sit as they prepare it for playground and parking.  The new building with its landscaping is complete for the most part.  It is much more attractive architecturally, than the old one.  However, there are many who attended the school over the years who would disagree…because they loved the place and people there.  They wish the old school was still standing.  A lot to learn about change from what I have been watching this year!  (to be continued)

Old school partially demolished

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY DAD-II…

All in all, my dad’s death was a huge blow to me.  It didn’t help that I lived in Jamaica.  Well, in some ways it did help.  We returned after the funeral and my extended stay in the US, to JA in time for Christmas.  It almost seemed like all that had happened shortly after Thanksgiving of that year had been one horrible dream.  But back at our home, life was getting back to normal.

Gradually, however the grief began to take its toll.  It turned out that the death of our stillborn daughter three years earlier and the death of my dad were BOTH needing to be dealt with.  I read a lot about death, dying and our hope for the future in books as well as Scripture.  I learned about my hope for the present too.  My initial way of dealing with my hope for the future was to think of the fact that I would some day see my dad in heaven.  Somehow, that wasn’t very comforting when I longed to hug him one last time.  To say one last meaningful “good-bye” and tell him how much I did love and appreciate him, despite his faults.

One of Elisabeth Eliot’s books on death was very helpful to me.  However, I can’t track it down now and don’t remember the title.  I just remember how her words hit me like a hammer…eventually I realized if anyone knew what they were talking about in this arena, she did.  Her emphasis in dealing with the death of a loved one related more to God’s sovereignty than merely to seeing them later in heaven.  It had way more to do with my acceptance (with joy and grace) of the circumstances God has planned for my life and an awareness and submission to His authority in my life.  He is the King of all, but His purposes are way bigger than me and MY small universe.

It may not seem like a very important distinction, but it really was huge for me.  This perfectly loving, just, righteous God had the power to do anything He wanted.  He sovereignly took my dad to be with Him, without the good-byes that I craved, without the final words to tell me he loved me.  Why would a God like that do such a thing?  I don’t have the precise answer but I do know that within the parameters of his character, knowing all that He does know, this was the best way for it to happen for His glory.  Of course I did NOT like it, but I know that God was not blinking or taking a nap when it happened.  I am comforted by the fact that He is in control even when events in my life are not in my control! That’s right!  HE IS GOD!  Someday, I’ll understand His full purposes in that event…and a few others too.  For one thing I am thankful–I had a good father, not perfect, but a good man whose desire was to serve God.  What a wonderful gift!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY DAD-I…

My dad was Albert Charles Grimm.  He was the only son (to their great sadness) of Clarence and Martha Grimm.  He was in the first graduating class (1942) of the King’s College which for many years was in Briarcliff Manor, NY but is now in the Empire State Building.  Back then, I think it was in Delaware.  He then went on to Faith Seminary and was in an early class of that school (1945).  If he had lived, he would have turned 91 today-July 7.  I can’t even imagine him as an old man!  He died very suddenly in his church office of a heart attack, without the secretary in the next room being aware that he was in any distress.  Yes, it was sudden.  He was only 54 years old.  It was one of those landmark events of my life!  I was 27, a young mother of two little girls with the youngest only 7+ months old.  When my mother called to tell me what had happened, it was such unbelievable news that I corrected her and said, “You mean grandaddy don’t you?”  Of course, she didn’t.  Now that is a good case of denial!

It was the first funeral of anyone in our family that was remotely close to us. This was the first really close family and there had been no time for final good-byes.  We weren’t a family that was given to expressing kind words to each other, or even much in the way of sincere compliments.  We had said many “good-byes” over years of traveling to the U.S. for high school and back to Costa Rica for short visits.  We did not know how to do “good-byes” well.  We were so focused on not crying that we never said anything meaningful.  After a short time of misery and awkward discomfort, we would hug and say “good-bye”.  There were always so many things left unsaid…and so much sadness as we trudged off from home and at least a year away from our family. Truthfully, I don’t think I have really learned how to do “good-byes” yet.  I hate them!  But, I digress.

I had always felt a kinship with my dad.  I don’t know if it was because we had each been the oldest, or in his case only, children in our families.  It may have been because of a bond that formed when my mom became ill with appendicitis when I was only six weeks old.  With her ten-day hospitalization and subsequent recuperation he had plenty of bonding time to spend with me that he didn’t have with my other siblings.  Another way we probably bonded was during the three years my parents were missionaries in Bolivia (late 40’s).  My mother and younger sister had multiple health problems.  There were a few times when they had to travel a distance to get medical care and I stayed with my dad (age one-four yrs.).  Another way we bonded was when I occasionally helped him in the yard.  He liked to get out there and work hard, and I liked to be with him.  He liked people and had a great sense of humor.  I was proud to be his daughter.  It was fun to be with him in whatever group he was.  There was sure to be plenty of laughter and I enjoyed the break from my very serious mind.  (to be continued)

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY WEEKEND…

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves,

and pray  and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,

then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin

and heal their land.  II Chronicles 7:14

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