This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Posts tagged ‘relationship’

The Old Paths: Sometimes there ain’t later. . .

My daddy’s best friend Petey who passed away two years ago.

I remember a Sunday afternoon a couple of years ago that I made the weekly journey to my parents’ house for lunch. My daddy’s best canine friend Petey greeted us as he always did. This little Jack Russell Terrier had been our buddy for nearly nine years, a steady guard dog who was as smart as any dog I’ve seen.

The next day we gathered there again to celebrate Memorial Day. I left in a hurry, work looming over my head despite the holiday. I remember thinking I hadn’t seen Petey much or given him the traditional scratch behind the ears.

“I’ll pet him later,” I said to myself.

Petey died the next day.

Sometimes there ain’t later.

That’s what a good friend of mine told me—in those exact ungrammatical words—when I lamented the fact that I didn’t pay any attention to Petey that weekend. Those simple words carry a wealth of wisdom.

Me covering the 2010 North Stokes graduation for the newspaper and feeling so heavy-hearted for my dear friend Dee Luster whose daughter Sonia would’ve graduated with this class. Sonia at her kindergarten graduation is on Dee’s t-shirt.

They came vividly back to me the very next week as I sat at lunch with Dee Luster, a mom who lost her only daughter—16-year-old Sonia—in an automobile accident on Highway 89 in Danbury, NC. When Dee told me how she said her typical “Love ya” to Sonia as she left for school at North Stokes High that September morning in 2008, I realized that Dee had had no way of knowing that would be their last verbal exchange on this earth.

With five children and all of us going in different directions, I spend lots of time on the phone each day with them. At the end of each call, even if it was just a 30-second conversation—“Mom, are my cleats in the trunk of your car?”—I say, “Love you.” Sometimes they respond in kind. Other times they just say goodbye. I’ve wondered if they wish I wouldn’t say that every time.

But what if “there ain’t later”? I want my children’s last memory of me—even if I’m 106 and watching my final game of Major League Baseball on the tube when I kick the bucket—to be of me telling them that I love them.

This is that time of year when we tend to lean toward the sentimental. Graduations abound. I’m seeing it all over the place. My Facebook friends are posting pictures of their children’s graduations from preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, high school. More than one of them has commented on their own post, “Where does the time go?”

Where does the time go? Wasn’t I just holding Meghann in my lap last week, reading Dr. Seuss books?

Tonight the seniors at my alma mater, South Stokes High School, are walking across the stage. Friday night brings commencement exercises for my hubster’s alma mater, North Stokes High School. The students at our other county high school, West Stokes, will march to “Pomp and Circumstance” on Saturday morning. I can guarantee there are many parents and grandparents all over Stokes County experiencing those sentimental feelings.

This time will never come again. With regard to high school graduation, there certainly “ain’t later.”

Enjoy this time in your life, seniors. One day you’ll be like my fellow South Stokes Sauras who had a 1980-86 class reunion a few years back. They renewed old friendships, but never again will they be that close-knit Saura family that they were back when they spent every school day together.

Enjoy this special time, parents. You will never pass this way again. You may look back at the pictures of that graduation day when your child marched onto the track to that familiar music. You may try to recapture the exact emotion you had as your baby’s name was called to receive a diploma. But it won’t be the same. You’ll never again quite remember exactly how you felt.

“Sometimes there ain’t later.” Now is the time.

How can I be making Chelsea’s graduation speech? Didn’t I just teach her how to read yesterday?

I recall an April day many years ago when I—queen of projects—had lots of work to do around the house. Meghann and Chelsea, then just tiny girls, began to beg me to have a tea party on the back deck. I told them I was too busy, but they persisted.

Finally, with a touch of irritation for having my plans disturbed, I gave in. We went outside in the mild spring air with a teapot, cups and snacks. The revelation hit me after just a few minutes that this was an event to treasure. I took a picture of our tea party. When I look at it now and see those little girls with happy smiles sipping from teeny toy teacups, I can muster up a little bit of what it felt like that day.

My tea party buddy Meghann is grown now, a magna cum laude graduate of Salem College.

But I can’t exactly recall the feeling. That was then. This is now. “There ain’t later” for that day. The girls are grown now, working each day with no time for tea parties on the deck with mommy.

My other tea party buddy, Chelsea, graduated from high school a few years back and will soon graduate from college.

While you have today, act as if later won’t come. Make decisions accordingly. Savor the emotions of the present to remember in the future. Treasure that graduation ceremony. Hug that child. Tell your significant other, your parent, your best friend that you love them. Pet your dog.

Losing Petey reinforced my desire to do all of the above.

Because “sometimes there ain’t later.”

(Adapted from my “The Old Paths” newspaper column that I wrote two years ago for The Stokes News)

My romantic getaway

Right about now, I am like a balloon pumped full of helium–ready to pop from all of the exciting stuff within me. You see, for the first time in my life, I’ve planned a romantic getaway. I am taking the hubster off somewhere (I can’t spill the beans, because he reads my blog!) in celebration of Valentine’s Day.

I see that man every day. Despite the difficulties of third shift, we manage to be together in some capacity daily–whether it’s just sitting on the couch watching SportsCenter or riding with the other one wherever he/she has to go just so we can be together. But every now and then, it’s nice to have a special, out-of-the-ordinary time together–a time when the TV doesn’t compete for our attention, when the kids aren’t running all around us, when the to-do list doesn’t get done.

It’s the same way with our God. Yes, we are with Him every day. In Him, we live and move and have our being. I’m sure we manage to find time daily–despite our busy lifestyles–to have prayer and/or Bible study. We even “give Him” a couple of hours on Sunday morning and maybe some time on Sunday and Wednesday nights. But it’s nice every now and then to spend a special day with Him–a time for just the two of you to be together, the way you would steal away for a romantic encounter (of the moral kind!) in the natural.

That’s what I did yesterday.

I didn’t plan it, I’m sorry to say. I get so caught up in my busy life that I think I “can’t afford” not to be productive every single day. Well, maybe I “can’t afford” not to occasionally leave behind the workaday world and just soak in Him.

My “romantic encounter” with my Bridegroom evolved as a result of a nasty virus that has tried to attack me for over a week. It hasn’t latched on, thank God, but it has played a game of tennis with me–back and forth, a day of feeling better, a day of feeling under attack again. After feeling particularly challenged and exhausted by this bug on Monday night, I decided to take a mental/physical health day on Tuesday. I had heard people use the “mental health day” term for years but had honestly never taken such a day off.

Tuesday is the day the kids are with their daddy, since it used to be my press day at the newspaper, and the hubster sleeps much of the day. That leaves me alone to teach piano lessons, write newspaper stories, run errands, etc.

Well, this particular Tuesday, it seemed as if my loving Savior orchestrated the day’s events just for me to be with Him. All three Tuesday piano students canceled for a variety of reasons. I found that to be too unusual to be coincidental. So for once, my common sense prevailed, and I made the decision to simply rest for the day.

It was not easy.

I itched to clean out a filing box or two. I wanted to continue my new health regimen and go walking all through the neighborhood. I thought of a zillion and one things I needed to do around the house. But I contented myself with just a few necessary chores–doing a load of laundry, distilling a gallon of water, making some long-neglected phone calls.

And you know what? I had a marvelous day! I actually took time to read a book–a fabulous juvenile fiction book that my son had begged me to read. I dozed on the couch for a while in the afternoon. I took a long, hot shower.

But most of all, I communed with my Maker. His presence was supremely real to me all day long. It was as if He and I had scheduled this time to be alone with each other.

The house was almost totally silent, with just the faint whir of the hubster’s fan in the bedroom and the ticking of the clock audible–comfortable little sounds. The sunshine poured in through the living room window. The very atmosphere was pregnant with His presence.

I knelt/lay in the floor for a while, just soaking in the river of His essence. Meanwhile, my computer played for me worship songs such as Kari Jobe’s “Revelation Song” and Christ for the Nations’ “So Beautiful”–peaceful, lovely songs of praise. I couldn’t get enough of Him.

I took a comfy chair down to the creek bank in the backyard and sat there facing the afternoon sun, hearing the refreshing bubbling of the creek as it meandered toward the mighty Dan River not far away. I opened my Bible to the middle, hoping to land on a Psalm that would match my mood.

It opened to Psalm 19 which seemed absolutely perfect for my natural outdoor setting:

Lower Cascades, Hanging Rock (Photo by Monty Stevens)

“1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
 5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
   like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
   and makes its circuit to the other;
   nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Lower Cascades, Hanging Rock (Photo by Melinda Ring)

 7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
   refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
   making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
   giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
   giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
   enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
   and all of them are righteous.

 10 They are more precious than gold,
   than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
   than honey from the honeycomb. . .”

All too soon, my romantic getaway with my Lord was over. I had to work that night, covering the Walnut Cove town meeting and writing the stories from it.

But I was all the better both physically and mentally for the day I had spent focusing on Him. His presence provided times of refreshing, as the Scripture says it does (Acts 3:19).

I still smile when I recall yesterday. My sigh of recollection is a satisfied one. I know I’ll feel the same way when the hubster and I get back from our Valentine’s getaway. I’ll smile when I remember the time we spent together. I’ll feel all mushy inside when I recall the love we shared–just the two of us. And our relationship will be stronger for it.

So why do we see the wisdom in doing this in the natural with our spouses but not in the spiritual with our Lord? I’m not talking about drawing aside for a time of prayer; we should do that every day. I’m talking about marking off a whole day on the calendar to be drenched in His love and Spirit, with no outside interruptions.

Maybe you can only do it once a year, maybe once a month. But I encourage you to go for it. It’ll be a day you won’t soon forget–a sabbatical that strengthens your relationship with Him and brings you forth refreshed!

Try it; you’ll like it!

(Click on the link below to hear one of the songs that helped bring me into His presence yesterday!)

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