The Plunge: Swimming Through Lessons in Humilty

cartoon swim

Swimming lessons with a 3 year old splashed humility all over this grandma.  Allow me to throw you a life preserver in order for you to avoid getting drenched as well.

Lesson #1-Don’t let your plan or pride keep you from the task at hand. Due to my daughter’s work schedule, I was the one to take Gracie for two weeks to a private backyard pool. In with her sunscreen and towel, I packed my book with visions of looking up from my riveting tale to shout inspiring encouragement as our little fish found her inner-mermaid. Wrong. The pool was just deep enough that Gracie couldn’t touch, and several of the tadpoles were there alone, so the instructor had her hands full. In a flash, I found myself, street clothes and all, with 20-30 something bikini clad moms, gliding the future Esther Williams on her tummy through the waves.  From then on, the book stayed home and over my swimsuit came my “Wendy Peppercorn is a Royals Fan” tank top.

Lesson #2-Pushing through pain is worth the effort, but the voices have to be ignored. While physically I could be way more fit, I’m not too shabby. However, due to the shallower depth of the pool, in order to help Gracie, my knees did not appreciate the constant strain put on them in this awkward position.They screamed and tried to convince me that I was dooming me to a future of unending meniscus surgeries and an ibuprofen drip. Honestly, I was on the verge of saying “Sweet Uncle of Marco Polo”, but Gracie would be left high and dry. However, in time, whatever ligaments were being stressed finally stretched out and now feel better than ever. While we dog paddle between the line of common sense and sucking it up, we need not be controlled by the negative or we will never discover what God has up his sleeve for us.

Lesson #3-Patience, patience, patience. Everyone has a different pace. Some of the kids there will obliviously be competing in the  2028 Olympics. They hit the water like a golden retriever after a duck.  On the other side of the buoy, others were clinging to their moms in terror and trying to scramble to higher ground on the top of Mom’s head. Gracie was kind of middle ground. At three, this venture proved to be on her own terms. In fact, one day, she was not having it, so we had to throw in the beach towel and simply pack it in. Then on most days, whenever the instructor came our direction with her perky positive countenance, Gracie would plaster on a fake smile and turn her back on her like, “If I act like I don’t see her, she’ll go away, because I see her plan to ask me to do something I’m not cool with.” Back in the day, I would have had my kids in the corner and frustrated that “we paid good money for this, so get in there and do what she tells you!” (How I appreciate the blessing of being down the road a bit farther now and the wisdom that goes with it.)

The instructor, however, is a master with this age. She would flounce off, give Little Miss Thing space, and then circle back around, not giving up, but allowing her breathing room and time to process getting more comfortable with this new adventure. After several days, Gracie discovered she wanted Tina’s attention and was hollering, “Look at me!”, eventually going with Tina to try some new stuff.

Lesson #4-Don’t expect someone to be courageous if you aren’t willing to be as well.  The big treat at the end of a session was to go down the slide—well, for most of them it was a treat. One mom was trying to encourage her little guy to go down.  He was at clinching the top rails and screaming like a gut-shot panther.  Gracie was soaking it in as I held her in the pool. She yelled in her most excellent, positive, motivational speaker voice, “Be brave, Cameron!” This gave me great hope as she was yet to show a lick of interest in this activity. “So, do you want to go down the slide?”  She matter-of-factly looked at me and stated firmly, “No.”   Another reality arrow with ‘guilty’ written on it pierced my heart.  How many times do we encourage others like we have it all figured out when we would be shaking in our floaties in the same situation?  Oh, how we need to pray for wisdom in the act of encouraging so that it doesn’t sound like it came from the shallow end.

Lesson #5-It seems hopeless right before the breakthrough. Toward the end of my tour of duty, I told my daughter I was afraid I had taken Gracie as far as I could. True, I could have been more firmer in attempting to cajole her into success, but here is where I was laying down the grandma card. You gigis know what I mean. Grandmas can lavish a bit more grace than parents once in awhile-sometimes out of love and sometimes out of sheer survival.  So far she was content for me to coast her Cleopatra style along the Nile. Bubble blowing was rare, not to mention the super courageous plunge under. Don’t even hint at the s-l-i-d-e. In addition, the day before had been the mondo melt-down session when I pulled the plug and dragged the soggy, sobby, little muskrat home. Beached is how I felt with my role in the swimming lesson gig.

But the next day dawned.

GO (her nickname since she’s named Gracie Olive) was nothing but GO!  She wanted to swim with the instructor–well glide like Cleopatra, but got to love baby steps! She could have powered a MasterCraft X26 with the bubbles she blew and her ‘princess kick’ action. Her eyes lit up when it came slide time, and she climbed that ladder ‘by myself!” like she was Greg Louganis’s twin sister. When she let loose to fly down the shoot, the light in her eyes gleamed of the start of an irresistible aquatic romance.

Not a bit of what went on hinged on me or my performance. Simply being present and willing to get wet was all that was asked.

Which proves again, in the everyday, God shows himself in the silly or the serious.  His words are true. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

How has God shown you that His grace is sufficient?  I’d love to know.

Photo credit: http://swimsafer.webs.com/photos/High_resolution_boy.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Witnessing a ‘Mary’ Christmas

What is everyone standing around for?  Pick up the baby!!!

What is everyone standing around for? Pick up the baby!!!

The young mama-to-be found herself in a precarious situation. Only God knew she carried the child. The circumstance was too much for even family and friends to understand. She could only imagine the glances, the whispering, the opinions, and way too much advice. This baby had to be protected at all costs. The human side of her wallowed in a bed of sleepless nights, for how could this possibly turn out well? Yet, she knew in her heart she was honored to be carrying this precious gift. To think the future of the child was unknown—well, she couldn’t afford to think about it now. All she knew was she had committed to follow this through.

When the labor pains began, she cried to the Lord. And He was faithful.

The wiggly bundle looked at her with moments fresh eyes, ones filled with wonder and uncanny wisdom. She tucked the moment into her heart and said, “Oh, what a wonderful gift you will be to someone.”

As days ticked by, God’s will revealed that this precious baby would not only affect the lives of many, but would be the redemption for the mama as well.

A story straight out of Bethlehem…

And Emporia, KS.

Every year I intentionally pray that God would show me something new from the age old story of Him in baby-bound form coming to earth. Little did we know that He’d start revealing our advent revelation on the quite early date of July 3rd. In a ballet of unmerited favor and unbelievable provision on so many levels, God showed himself faithful through the birth of a unforeseen girl grandbaby. Her name is the testament of God smiling on each and every person her life touches–Gracie Olive. (A ‘wow’ moment in research just hit–Olive means ‘anointed for the good of love and charity.’ Perfect!)

Make no mistake, this child is certainly not divine. She can throw a ring-tailed fit like no other. However, her arrival was swaddled in the warmth of God’s love.

And while making different choices to scoot them down life’s road, I’m convinced our daughter Misty and Mary still would have heart-connected at the local MOPs meeting. Oh, the things they have in common. Ordinary people thrown in extraordinary circumstances. Come take a look.

Let’s start with every branch and leaf of family being nothing but supportive. Nary a stone was as much as tripped over, much less picked up. Perhaps, this was Mary’s family’s reaction as well, since she stayed in her hometown, except of visiting cousin Elizabeth, until that uncomfortable trip to Bethlehem popped up. Whether the decision would be adoption or to keep this little one, everyone respected Misty’s judgment and had her back.

Once our dear friends Megan and Michaela heard the tidings of great joy, they dropped everything and made the three hour journey faster than hyped up shepherds on the hunt for a newborn King. And Cheryl…well, she hovered over the story from afar, being the angelic ear and prayer warrior to the heavenlies we needed at critical times. Pat’s chicken and noodles were truly a Godsend after eight days of eating drive-thru meals.

While Mary was visited by Magi, bearing exotic gifts, Galen and Richelle from Argonia in the East came barreling through the door with a new baby bed and pink bedding with zebras dancing on it.

While angels winged across star-dazzled skies, singing ‘Glory to God in the Highest,” our pastor strummed his guitar, lifting up heart-felt praises from our couch.

Two communities of faith in the fashion of the true redeeming love of Christ were generous past the point of ridiculous. And while in the hospital, once it became apparent that baby was coming home with her mama, the nurses blew us away with gifts and encouragement fit for royalty as well.

Instead of Anna’s tears touching Baby Jesus’s cheek, Pam of the Co-op’s eyes glistened as she knelt in front of Gracie snoozing in the rock-in-play, unspeakable joy running in streams down her face. Our threshold became a well-worn path of those pouring love, encouragement, and offering babysitting services. Every single one of them itched to get their hands on her.

Ordinary people kissed by God, lavishly serving Him in extraordinary ways.

Tonight I gaze upon my Grandma Olive’s handed down nativity scene. I appreciate and understand the distant reverence and awe the brightly-colored characters hold for the Christ child in the manger.

However, from what we experienced, how can anyone keep their hands off of a baby? Don’t we all crave to drink in the scent of purity, snuggle the softness of love, and drink in the whispered coos that are the healing salve of the deepest wounds? The world cannot compete with this phenomenon. Even the most regal Wise Man would have cracked open a chuckle at a bit of baby slobber as it ran down lush robes. Who can resist those powers?

For almost six months we have seen that mojo every day. Like I said, Gracie Olive is not divine, but she gave joy to a lonely old woman in Wal-Mart, flirted a smile out of a car technician, and made Santa laugh when she ate his beard. Every stop takes ten times longer with her around. She’s kind of become everybody’s baby, and her dimpled smile sprinkles joy like glitter on heaven’s breath.

This little glimpse we have been blessed with has opened the earthly blind a little wider to see how hands-on our Savior is. Whether it was the bleeding woman that simply needed a touch of his garment, or the children he insisted hanging out with, or the multitudes that were drawn to him, there is comfort in knowing that no way would He be confined to a manger for one second longer than necessary.

Oh yes, He is everybody’s Savior.

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

‘Mary’ Christmas from The Long Family!

photo credit: http://blog.christmasnightinc.com/tag/outdoor-nativity-scenes/

Raising a Pack of Gypsies

BurnsYears ago it came apparent that our children did not come with a homebody gene. All those self-esteem building jingles from primary school like ‘the sky’s the limit, so be a star!’ and Buzz Lightyear’s “to infinity and beyond!’ ours took seriously. Our basic front door morphed into a revolving one, our cars usually had someone itching for a permit behind the wheel, and some times only a heavily marked calendar actually had a clue where any of our clan was.

I partially blame our oldest daughter< Robin< for being such an excellent example. At a year and a half, she stayed with a grandma for an entire week. How I worried! Of course, she was crying herself to sleep every night and was most certainly on a hunger strike. If the crunch of driveway gravel hit my ears about Tuesday, I would not be a bit surprised!

But the week dragged on until Saturday hit. My arms were prepared for the Munchkin dissolve into my arms to drink in my hugs. Instead, Robin bopped right past me to dig in her toy box.

The first day of Kindergarten I was informed that I would not be driving her the 11 miles to school. She wanted the bus experience, thank you very much! Daggers shot out of her eyes when I raced out to undo the wired yard gate. “MOM! The kids will see you!”

There was nary a glance back at Girl Scout Camp. The mission trips to Mexico had her daddy wearing out the floorboards until his bed-bug bitten darling was back snoozing under her Jayhawk bedspread.

The one softball game I didn’t go to, Robin’s perturbed tone reached through the phone lines to share that she had been thrown into a freezer at McDonald’s due to being in the path of the tornado wiped out a section of Haysville, KS. Again, a phone was repeated during a mission trip to Denver. “Mom, I’ve got a towel pressed to my head and am being taken to the ER. A window fell on my head.” On each occasion she was merely ticked that her adventures had been detoured.

On the home front we threatened to lock her in the basement and feed her through a tube, but instead the butterfly motioned the rest of the sibling larvae to burst from their cocoons and join her. Oh great! The swarm was set free!

Emporia State was chosen, a mere three hours away, but I kept telling myself she was only on a mission trip to Mexico. The rationalization being it was Mexico was a short-term excursion, instead of the gypsy actually leaving the family permanently.

Then she messed everything up. We were finally getting used to the dynamics of no Robin, when she came home for several weeks at Christmas. Here came a routine again including her. The day she left, I was a soggy mess as I ran the sound at Mary Jean Rickard’s funeral, who I’d never seen in my life–I was such a spectacle, I know everyone whispered, ‘but we didn’t know they were so close.’

I came home and through sobs announced, “You don’t have to go back! You can just sit here and be a slug on the couch for the rest of your life and it’s fine with me!” She bolted and fled as fast as her little red Kia would scoot down the road.

And off she went to Myrtle Beach, SC. Light danced in her eyes as she swirled her brightly colored stories of sharing Jesus at Campus Crusade Summer Project, following God’s call whether her parent’s were freaked out of not.

Now it’s years later, and she’s doing it again! Instead the stakes are much higher. Santa Clarita, CA is a l-o-n-g ways from Kansas. With her will move King of the Gypsies she married and that has been grafted into our hearts, Karsten. (She also adamant that the new grandson, Bren, will be going with them, but we are working on that feverishly to change that or even trick her into leaving him.)

For five days no one could look at me without a cloudburst of tears drenching us both. Although God has been preparing us for this since day one, it is amazingly heart-wrenching.

While excited for a new adventure, the homing gene has made a rare appearance and the Queen of the Gypsies has realized that her life is being yanked harder than the gnarled roots of a deformed wisdom tooth. But she isn’t alone. King Karsten is forging into a foreign field of work and enviorment that he had never caught a glimmer of in his crystal ball. They are leaving the closeness of their church family and living the security of small town life for the LA area.

However there are too many God-cidences lining up that this is the path He has chosen for them. How can we stand in the way of that westward bound wagon? The greatest gift we can give is letting them go with as much encouragement, grace, and packing skills that we can muster. There is so much they are leaving behind–including Minnie the dog and, of course, Bren. (Shouldn’t we be able to keep a minature version of our beloved gypsy with us? It’s only right.)

If God has worked the smallest details out to get them out there, He will work out our family ties as well.

By faith Abraham when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, eventhough he did not know where he was going…..For he was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is the Lord.” Hebrews 11: 8 and 10

Ok, so by faith, we’ll let them take Bren-sniff. Would hate to break up the Burns Gypsy Band, but insist on Skype dates and possibly GPS collars to track them.

(For the record, Long Sibling Gypsies don’t get any ideas…you’re grounded!)

“Oh Great, I’m Pregnant Again…” The Deliciousness of Not Seeing the Future.

 Have those words come tumbling out over the rim of your quivering and frightened lips? Of maybe they are about to, you don’t see how this could possibly be good. If so, let Cliff and I encourage you. We’ve quivered to our liver, down to our toenails, and back to the ends of our hair on more than one occasion. 

Those words tended to project of my mouth just every little whip-stitch.  Not because we didn’t want to have kids and not because we were trying. Oh my land, no! Out of six pregnancies, only one time were God and us on the same schedule.

Our original plan was two children–a girl and a boy through adoption. What we got were three girls, one boy, and two we know nothing about, but anxious to meet at the gates of heaven someday.

Back in Cliff’s high school baseball career, due to a freak baseball accident, a verdict came in that we would never be blessed with babies.

Wrong!

For the first one, we weren’t married. EEEKKK!! Talk about the most obvious consequences of sin. Didn’t get away with pushing God on that one, huh?

Then, after queasy mornings of turmoil, strung in a row like laundry in a turbulent windstorm, I would break the news to my husband. It’s not that we didn’t want children. But they came along so fast and past any barrier we faithfully put in place. (Trust me we were so seriously faithful. We did not make the task easy for God. My mom’s theory was the baseball knocked something loose instead.)

But God was faithful to see us through diapers, bleacher butt, laughter, tears, and a plethora of scares and joys. What Happens When Your Son Climbs on a Casket, Cat+Dishwasher=So Not Good, The Long Nesting Season and many more posts.)

Now it is roughly 30 years since the first time I uttered those words. Little did our internal crystal balls share was what that would mean to us now. Who would have dreamed that while those little interuptions came screaming into our our family as wonderful blessings, they would be hard proof that God knows what he exactly what he’s doing.

While it’s happened gradually–the shift from molding-and-shaping of our four life-wired responsibilities to mentor-best friends–lately we have been soaked from the the torrents of being blessed by our children.

During those shaky hours and days after Mom’s passing, they swept us up in a cloud of ‘what do you need us to do?’ Cole muscled boxes from cleaning out Mom’s room at the care center and handled an awkard incident with Mom’s ashes with the finese of a funeral home pro. (Shouldn’t there be at least one iffy ash adventure with every cremation package?) Misty was a white tornado and kept the house and us spiffed and organized. Casey listened to Ting-Tang-Walla-Walla-Bing-Bang so many times, she was about to hunt the witch doctor down to club him with the stubborn slide show she created for the service. Robin accompanied me to florist, the funeral room, and the church for arrangements. Newcomers to the family, son-in-law Karsten stood in the wings as my understudy,just in case I blubbered through the eulogy, and grandson Bren provided a joyful message that life continues through belly-laughs, snuggles and his four month old rendition of How Great Thou Art. Back when, no way could morning sickness and lack of health insurance ever seen through the fog to these crowning gifts.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, last weekend we were spoiled rotten to commemorate our anniversay. A slide show of our 30 years and a coffee table book of friends and family sharing memories and congratulations brought hilariaty and surprise emotions. Since our blood dribbles to the beat of a basketball bouncing, our supper was sprung for, complete with two imported K-State fans to antagonize during a Kansas Jayhawk victory. Our pick-up mysteriously disappeared and was returned, gassed clear to the top of the tank instead of the usual empty one when it gets ‘borrowed.’

Along with the Long Offspring Anniversary Package came a photo shoot. For some reason our kids thought we needed something a little more classy than this.

DSCF5104

So for fun, here is what we ended up with~

etown 2

And this

etown 10

And we must have a make-out pic for the kids to say ‘Ewwwww!!!”

etown 5

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame. Psalm 127:3-5

Our most excellent warriors are these flaming arrows, an unexpected legacy, who blesses more than we could have ever imagined.

Christmas Gator pic

Be encouraged! God has you in this pair of shoes for a reason…or many reasons…and it is for good. Good enough that, he will ripple joyful quivers right down to your tip-toes, to the ends of your hair, and right back to your heart.

When a Good-bye Is Not Forever-The Unbelievable Last Gift

As you read this, it’s kind of tough, but please stick in to the end. You’ll be glad you did.

If you haven’t lived in this area, you wouldn’t know the story. My fun-loving Mom has been a neurological Pearl Harbor for several years. If the genetic code of chronic depression and Alzheimer’s wasn’t enough, the after-effects of the Radiant Patient Award to kill the bugs of brain cancer, followed by fluid on the brain, well, it’s amazing she still knew us most days and had it together enough to breathe.

That is until a couple of weeks ago. All signs pointed towards heaven for our Mermaid. (see When Your Parents are Named Cleon and Myrlee) I arrived at her care home with my F150 truck’s backseat packed for an unknown period of time. Mom was working hard to sleep, although I knew she would not truly wake up again. Of course, I talked about everything in the world–just in case she tuned in. Funny times, great memories, what I knew of wonders promised in the Bible, and of course, tears fell.

At one point, a favorite aide of hers, Katrina, was trying to get her to open her mouth, and Mom stubbornly pursed her mouth. Yep, that would be my mom. We shared a chuckle at the glimmer of personality through the fog. After I reminded Mom that she had been through a lot worse stuff than this, she relaxed and the mission was accomplished.

Later that evening, I cracked a stupid joke that only my family would catch, and a corner of her mouth turned in a grin and she moved a little. A sign she was with me, so jumped at the opportunity to I share my heart. I assured her of who was going to take care of whom, and that it was okay to leave at anytime. A private and precious time I will cherish forever.

Then we went through a night of hard sleeping to wake, knowing soon, yes soon was going to be her moment. Fourteen hours had passed since that last smile–just fading breathing. Cliff, my knight to my rescue, arrived, and two Hospice workers, that I had met the day before, just happened to cruise in the door.

Suddenly, Mom’s expression changed. I wish I could explain it. Nothing terribly profound, just ever-so slightly different. Cliff came behind me and hugged my shoulders.

Softly, I asked her, “Mom, do you see them? Are Grandpa and Grandma Moore there to meet you?”

Her mouth began to move, forming letters she didn’t have the breath to voice.

“Are you seeing Ann? After 50 some years, it’s about time best friends got together. And is Delmer there? What about Aunt Elva? You know, she met Grandpa when he left.”

Oh, did she try to fill us in! Her lips puckered and opened, her tongue flicking.

“Mom, you know you have those grandbabies up there we haven’t even got to meet. Jesus is an excellent babysitter, but don’t you think it’s time to meet their grandma?”

Still, she tried.

“Mom, if you see Jesus, you go run and hug his neck.”

And at that moment, she quietly left.

The Hospice nurse confirmed it. When I looked around the room. A sense of awe had taken over. And while there were tears, unspeakable joy was on all our faces. And Peace comfortingly patted Sorrow’s back and assured that all would be more than okay.

How does one leave any better than that, I ask? What a gift God allowed her to share. Her passing makes us ponder how thin the veil between this life and eternity is and fertizlized the hope in our hearts.

Of course, I have my moments. My eyes well at almost nothing and packets of LiL Traveler Kleenexs fill my pockets, which I will probably run through the washer. My brain is kind of fuzzed out as of late. Afterall, she was my mama, we’d been a team for a very long time. BUt I smile continually because in her leaving, she left a ministry that death can not stop, but keeps sparkling with eternal hope.

If you see any of our family in the grocery store, at work, or out and about, and if someone says, “I’m sorry to hear about your mom,” don’t be surprised to overhear, “Thank you so much! She went out in grand style. Here, let me tell you about it.”

(Oh, how this verse has been made clear to me now.) “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15 Precious indeed!

Proclaming 2013 ‘The Year of the Mental Pause’

Twelve years ago today, after a death defying hysterectomy, my surgeon told me, “I left an ovary. It looks healthy and should have a good 10-15 years left on it.” After having my insides rotated and my oil changed with 2 pints added, I have been zooming down life’s road without a care. (see The Day That Almost Did Me In)

Well, the test of time has proven the good doctor correct. Of course, I knew he would be. I put my confidence in a guy who could not only wrangle a renegade artery rupturing, but could diagnose which was the best cow to cut from a herd of pesky bovines. But, I guess I figured the clock wouldn’t gallop faster than a runaway steer.

While I have only heard rumors of the joy of hot flashes, here is what has started popping up somewhere between becoming a grandma and the half-century birthday.

1. My rememberory delights in going on vacation. I can’t remember the stupidest little things, like the person’s name I just met. Or wait, did I actually meet someone new, or was that someone already I knew, but can’t place how I knew them? And did I put them in the refrigerator, where I left my keys last night?

2. Weird stuff is going on with my hair. I can handle the really , really ‘blonde’ hair coming in at my temples, and look forward to that promised ‘crown of splendor’ that the Bible promises of a life well lived. Besides I like the idea of matching my prematurely gray husband, and I figure I’ve earned every single one of them. But what is with the texture? It’s doing a bristly curl thing I don’t know how to deal with.

3. Which brings up the attack of blotches and Sahara Desert skin. The ghost of wonderful Kansas sunburns past are coming back to haunt me and leaving me a connect-the-dot motif no concealer is prepared to cover.

4. Panicking and over-thinking the littlest insignificant things. Yes, Miss Go-With-The Flow has turned into Battan-Down-Every-Hatch-and-Some-That-Have-Yet-To-Be-Built Crazy Woman. ‘Quit wringing your hands! Just make a decision already and move!’ is the pep talk I use to bust up the Anxiety Party. (I swore I’d never be that prancing in place gal.)

Most of these things have been taken care of with vitamins I’m sure were touched by the hand of God just for me—except for the beauty issues and I have a whole cabinet of stuff for that.

But there is one symptom that makes me just want to bawl and bawl and not stop bawling.–the flood of tears. My stars I have to up my fluid intake to keep from dehydrating,, and rumor has it that the Dollar General in town had to increase their shipments of Little Travelers tissue packets.

I’ve always been a soggy one and a sucker for those old Folgers Coffee Christmas commercials. The brother coming home to surprise his family for Christmas got me every time. From being banned from watching Lassie when I was young to getting misty as an adult watching Bambi and Beauty and the Beast, no one in my family is shocked that Mom is sniffing in the dark. When I went into bellowing sobs during the grown-up Peter Pan movie, Hook, because I was convinced I had lost my imagination along with Peter, ok, my family did want to lock me up on that one.

But now it is worse than the holiday special of Call the Midwife. I have no control whatsoever of when the rainclouds will descend. That’s what makes me mad. There are times I feel it crucial that I have to have it together. Like in front of a crowd or a few times on radio when my throat got thick and warned me not to push the weak spot in the dam. And in my stubbornness, I convince myself I could shove it away. Wrong.

Or when I am so mad and want to get my point across. Gusher time. Or life’s big events like graduations and weddings. I know I’ll get teary, but will I go into rafter shaking sobs? Or sometimes for no clear reason at all, but usually it is in front of half the world and everyone want to know ‘what’s wrong.’. Which makes me as mad as when my kids snicker and say ‘Mom’s doing the menopause thing again.’ And if you see me with my hair smoking and looking charred with a nervous tick, it’s because I can’t write for long on the computer without risking electrocution. Not handy when trying to polish up a novel for submission.

A friend told me that when she was going through this a guy reminded her of a bible verse. “You know, Jesus wept. But it does not say ‘he wept and wept and wept.” Fortunately, she thought it was funny. I did, too, but now, I would have hit him. Hard.

To me, tears carry the definition of weakness. And whose life has had a lot of room for that luxury? Maybe you are like me and is the one who takes the dog to be put to sleep? Or have you had to go where angels feared to tread with family or a dear friend? Have you had to be the protector, provider, or parent to those you never dreamed of being in that role for? Or have you had great loss? Or times you don’t know what is wrong, but it feels like something is trying to crawl out of you? I’m sure you can add volumes to this severely incomplete list.

It’s okay. You are not alone, and every tear shed is of value to the Lord. Psalm 56:8 says “You have kept count of my tossings. Put my tears in a bottle. Are they not in your book?’ Oh, they are of great value for those humble tears glorify the Lord, and he records each one. Can you imagine the bottle of the woman who wet Jesus’s feet with the offering from her tear ducts? Yes, God gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

Enough grace to get us through the moment, the day, and 2013.

Hmmm…..As weepy as I’ve been lately, I have to wonder how big of bottle does God have handy?