Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

Here in Indiana, we've had our first bite of winter. I missed a big storm last weekend when I was in Raleigh. The piles of that storm are still along the roadways but as I drove up to Winona Lake, those snow mounds emitted vapor and fog, given the highway an eerie vibe. Friday and Saturday met us with a constant, chilly rain and this morning, the streets are coated with ice.

Ah winter. We Midwesterners keep up the mantra: we like the snow, we like the snow, we like.....

I used to wonder why the old folks all congregate in the warmer climes. Now, it's "Ah ha!"

And that's where I'm headed. Mom and I will celebrate Christmas 2013 together. I've heard that other family members will venture into the mix.

Then, next Saturday, oh my! I'll grab some grandboys' hands and skip aboard the Disney Fantasy for a week even farther south. What a couple o' weeks!

For the most part, I can step back from the craziness and rush rush rush of this season. I know that many friends get juiced when all the parties and presents and fa la la swirl around them but that's never been me...or us. And I really didn't let anything or anybody bully me into any other way.

Our family traditions included gathering in the living room, Christmas morning. I brought in the platter of fresh yeast cinnamon rolls and an egg casserole.  Mike read from the Christmas story in Luke 2. We had a big big Bible that was reserved just for that reading. When he finished, it was on to the stockings.

Both kids had stockings that were created by Gramma Hayes. They were huge. and THIS mom was not one to stuff them with expensive items. My kids usually found note books and pens, new toothbrushes, some stickers and Pez containers....nothing too much. However, one tradition that I began when each was 3....there was always a wrapped box of Thank You notes in the stockings. We had an understanding: we did not leave the tree room until the notes were written.

I had a plan to teach them to write notes. It worked with one of two adult children. 50%. I'll take it.

Then, the serious tearing began. We opened one gift at a time and the others would look on with feigned interest, eyeing the next goody. Mike's major contribution was to gather up the wrapping paper and stuff it in a trash bag as we went along. Whew. Notes written and then the kids retreated to their bedrooms for serious sorting and play.

We never did the big meal. Some Christmas days, we stayed in our jammies all day. I vaguely remember a Battleship marathon that reached into the evening. And sometimes...many times...yes...Mike would return to the office. Sadly, Christmas Day is a big problem for some people and if a client needed Mike's help, even on Christmas, he was available.

Did we feel neglected? Placed second? Deserted?  No no and no. This was our husband's/father's profession. His clients knew that they could count on Mike when they needed him. That was one of the qualities I loved about my husband.

So, as I move into a very different Christmas season, how goes it? It goes great. The holiday often brings memories to the forefront. My memories are the good ones.

With few distractions or obligations, I find myself marveling again at the story of the baby, his young mother, the manger, the star, the path of Jesus' life that led to the cross and our salvation.

My prayer for you, so many of whom have prayed for us and continue to pray for me, is that you will find the wonder in this season. The God of the Universe became flesh and dwelt among us. He came to die for our sins. He rose and conquered death. We can cling to the hope of heaven.

I know that my dear Mike is walking with his Savior. He is healed and whole. Praise to God.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


 I'm sure Mike told everybody, EVERYBODY, that I am an independent lady. Depending on the day, he might have said, "headstrong," "bull headed," "stubborn," or some version of that.

Hmm. Maybe. I know that we each operated in our separate universes....his was law and mine was school...where we made decisions without the other's input.

However, in 39 years of marriage, we melded our values into what was uniquely ours.

Last week, I made a choice that was different from what Mike and Lynne Bolinger would have done. I leased an automobile.

We never leased cars during our marriage. We saved up and purchased cars. It was never easy but early on, with my $50 1961 rag top Volkswagen, I owned that green machine as soon as I drove it away. In our state, where insurance and plates are based on the car, it was cheap to drive and that was in 1973-4 when gasoline prices soared for the first time in my life.

Mike brought a 1970 VW to the marriage which functioned as our only car until we were done with graduate school.

While saving up for a car, Mike would read a lot about cars, shop for cars, take me to car shows to sit in cars. We were a pretty good team:  Mike knew about engines, wheels, maintenance costs and mileage. I evaluated the comfort. I would sit in the driver's seat and adjust it for me. Next, I would sit in the front passenger seat. Then, I would check out the back seat...this was in the family make sure I could get in and could ride with my knees free from the seat in front of me.

What we NEVER did was lease. Frankly, I didn't have much to do with that decision as long as my personal wheels got me to and fro. Mike would preach it, though....."A lease is the most expensive way to drive a car..."

Quite a while ago, he and I decided it was time to replace my Orange Caliber. Unfortunately, this was before I ended up sinking $$$ at 60,000 miles. (who calls this 'nickles and dimes?') The hub decided to teach me how to buy a car. We started with a newspaper ad..."This is what the sticker is." "This is what the cost to the dealer is."  "This is what he should make on the sale."

We roll-played my purchasing a car. I was prepped to walk in, offer something ridiculously low and let the salesman offer the sticker price. Then, we were to play back-and-forth, bringing the price closer to the middle. This kind of bargaining comes naturally for defense attorneys but not for English teachers. Plus, my limited experience is that, no matter how far we've come, baby, car salesmen see a chump when a woman comes in alone.

In fact, at least once, Mike had me go into a dealer and get 'his best deal.' Then, the hub's plan was to go back and get the 'real deal.' And the difference was startling.

I have no idea if those salesmen played him, also. But he would leave thinking he'd gotten a deal so he'd be happy with his purchase. All good.

I dreaded the time when I would have to buy a car. And the time was coming. What threw me for a loop: 3 of my advisers, independently of each other, suggested I think about leasing. "We don't lease," I'm sure I said.

It's not that I'm not OK with the fact that I am no longer 'we.' It's just an idea we had never considered. But then I did.

After meeting with 3 different dealerships, I spent a month thinking, reading, praying, and planning. The time came. I chose the dealer, made an appointment, and walked in, armed with information.

By the time we concluded, I was signing up for a lease. For a really cool car. Really.

So, the natural question from friends:  so are you excited?

And the honest answer was, "Not yet." It took about a week to wrap my mind around the fact that I had made a big decision and it was 180 degrees from what Mike and Lynne Bolinger would have made. This is a My-New-Life first.

The world has continued to spin and I'm tooling around, happy, in my car.

So, left to my own self, this is what I got.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Not so Ho Ho Ho?

I am a morning person, one of those wide-awake, cheery souls who greets the day, often before the sun comes up. As a teacher, it served me to rise at 4:30 to have 2 ½ hours to wake up and get organized before school.

 My experience indicates that few 17-year-olds are morning people. When I would greet my students at 7:20, I was smiling but I consciously tramped down the cheery demeanor. It’s hard to take sunny before your eyes adjust to the day. 

So here I am, moving into this holiday season and my heart is overflowing with joy. It’s a gift God has afforded me at a time when, according to Google, I should be depressed and teary. It was at this time, last year, that Mike could no longer disguise that cancer had come to call with pain and weakness and, at long last, a trail to the end. He is at peace and whole now, and God has gifted me with peace and happiness. 

When people ask me how I’m doing, depending on who asks, I tell them I’m just a little joy bell. It’s a great way to celebrate the birth of our Lord. However, we all know that for some people, the holidays are especially difficult. Bright lights, music, and parties all announce that we are to be HAPPY. Happy happy happy. And for some people, who are sad, lonely, depressed, or facing difficulties, the festivity of each street corner makes their mood even worse. Confront by a joy bell, they might want to smack it away.
It seems to me that we’ve ramped up the season from pre-Thanksgiving through New Years Day with unreasonable expectations of what these days should be and must be. Then, collectively, many of us try to live up to this, fall short, and then wonder what’s wrong with us. 

Thanksgiving, which now starts before Halloween, is ‘supposed’ to mean a big family meal where the throng sits around a loaded table, laughing and loving each other and, of course, there's the food. But let’s face it, sometimes you get to spend significant time with some relative that you don’t care for. (note to my relatives: NOT I) Then there’s the overeating and the belly aches and the oh-no-look-at-the-bathroom-scale next day.

On to the Christmas season, which includes public fights over Nativity Scenes and Christmas music; we get pressured into parties and gift giving, spending more money than we should; behind every door is more and more sugar; we gain MORE weight; and, here in the Midwest, it’s the weather:  cold, gray, colder, grayer…and maybe a little snow.

Now, for those unburdened with trouble, it’s all ok. In my case, God keeps showing me how blessed I am. There’s beauty all around us. And, for the Christian, we can meditate on how our God became flesh and dwelt among us. He was born, He died, He rose, He saves. Glory to God on the Highest. Lyrics of memorized Christmas carols strum the strings of my heart.

Way back in June, I gave audience to what I would do during the upcoming holidays…you know, the ‘first ones’ without my dear husband. Although Mike and I weren’t all that sentimental…we never made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve…I did wonder what this season would be for me. As it turns out, wasted energy. At my house, all is calm and all is bright.

However, when I considered that I might find the holidays difficult, I had hatched a plan, a pretty good plan, in case I found myself in a funk. It’s good advice for anybody when he finds himself feeling low.

Sometimes, we really do need a pity party; we deserve a pity party and should have one. I would suggest, though, that while it’s OK, one can go ahead, feel sorry for whatever warrants it but set a timer. Or an alarm clock. 30 minutes or 30 hours is a good time frame. When the time is up, you should go and wash your face with cold water, dry off and get busy.

I had planned to go to our local Rescue Mission and dish up dinner for those who are alone during the holidays. Or visit someone in an assisted living center. Or be open to other ideas. The best way to shake the gloomies is to help someone who has it worse than you. And, I believe we can ALWAYS find someone who has it worse than you and I do.

So, that’s my suggestion for anyone who is blue during the holidays. You’ll do something good for someone else. Ring a bell. Wrap a present. Smile more than you don’t. You’ll see your problems in a clearer light. And before you know it, we’ll be in January when the tinsel and colored lights disappear.

Friday, December 6, 2013

So, how long does it take?

Perhaps hard to believe: it's been almost 7 months.

Life goes on for everybody.

I noted the 6 month mark by removing my wedding ring and engagement ring. There's no real time line for this and it felt right. Also, I had tried it earlier but because of salt intake, I couldn't get it off. At that time, I hoped I could retrieve it without that cutting-off tool. I did.

Now, safely tucked in a place I will not forget (WILL NOT....WILL NOT), I will decide what to do with it. No rush there.

So, I look at my left ring finger: first, there's quite the indentation, plus some tan lines. I expected that. However, there's also a strange ring of skin, softer, less weathered where my ring used to be.

To Google: suggestions are to exfoliate, moisturize, exfoliate again, and on and on, to restore the skin. Also, I asked around the hair salon. Several women showed me fingers where rings used to lay. 2 months, 6 months, 3 years.....the skin is still unmarked. So, I guess I'll live with this and that's a good thing.

Also, I got a call from the cemetery: they needed me to sign off on Mike's marker. The time line on a burial spot goes like this, at least in Indiana. We buried my husband's shell. He lies head to foot with his dad, as was his wish.

Someone dug a hole and then filled it up. The next day (yes, I checked), a mound of dirt covered the spot and funeral flowers in pots decorated the perimeter. A week later, the pots were dumped upside down on the mound. A few weeks beyond, the pots were gone, leaving a brown, muddy patch. And, it was still the same on September, when Zach and I chose the marker. I inquired. As it was summer and a dry summer, grass would not grow. OK. I guess they know their stuff.

When I got ready for my November road trip, I checked again. Now, grass marks the spot, almost as if nothing lies under it. Now, we have the marker ordered...slightly odd to see my name...and it will probably be spring before the work is finished.

While on my latest adventure, I got to share a meal with an old friend who happens to be a pastor. He approached this question slowly:  So, is the grief, is your pain, getting less?

I mean, it's been 6 long does it take? (Not his question)

I'll tell you. I took Ivy around the block the other day, retracing our common route. We stopped in the pocket park and sat on the same bench that Mike and I sat on so many times, discussing life, our life, and other things. Ivy and I then took the long walk around the neighborhood. Mike and I took the long walk until last spring. Then, it was time for the short walk and the many rests.

Wistful sadness. And this is only one of our places. There are so many others, now connected with wonderful memories.

I don't believe that ever stops.

But, as we approach the Christmas holidays, I must say that my heart is so full of joy, for my current life, for my married life, for the many blessings all around me. God continues to open my eyes to His care.


Oh come! Let us adore Him
Oh come! Let us adore Him
Oh come! Let us adore Him

Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On the Road, kinda

If you’ve been ‘following’ me, you know I’ve been traveling. I have a reason and specific targets and so far, it’s been great. When I tell people what I’ve doing, they all smile and say, “Great!”

Or some sort of variation. The question that few ask but many want to:  are you traveling alone?

Yes, I am. And I think I understand not only the question but their concern. 62 year old woman, traveling to strange cities, all by herself? Especially a rather provincial mid-westerner?

I understand their concern. I also know that although I’m good with solo travel, it can pose some challenges. In the past, I traveled mostly with the hub so there were 4 sets of eyes along with 2 brains to keep everything in line.

Now here’s another ‘secret’ from my married life. Mike and I were very different in our travel attitude. I was more adventurous, more spontaneous than was he. I used to say that you could drop me in a strange place where they spoke English, with a solid credit card, and I would be just fine. I would find those things that I wanted to do, that I wanted to see, and get back to the plane or car on time.

Not so the hub. HE was uncomfortable going to a strange place the first time. This may be why we traveled so infrequently. He would stress if I planned a trip and then when we got there, it went better if I had an itinerary, addresses, etc. He would pack 3 times what he needed. He would check our time table compulsively.

On return trip, he was an old salt. A regular. Could talk to a cabbie like a pro. Knew just where we needed to go to do whatever. Gave directions to NEW people. SO, although we traveled to few places, we returned to those few places regularly.

And perhaps, as is true in many partnerships, because he was SO…what do you call it?...scheduled,  I moved to the extreme other side, glorying in a spontaneous “I think I’ll do this.”

I like spontaneity. I get juiced when I fly on a whim. But sometimes, a little forethought would have proven helpful as I reflect.

Once, I traveled to a writer’s conference in Palm Springs, California. I’ll mention the state for readers who are as provincial as I am. I flew into Los Angeles and decided that, for an adventure, I’d rent a car and drive the 100 or so miles to the conference. City driving is exciting, yes?

This was, by the way, in the days before everybody had cell phones. I certainly didn’t. Mike knew that I would be at a certain hotel for two days and that I would return to him a day later. Really, that’s all he concerned himself with and that was fine.

But I hadn’t told him about my driving plan. Nor had I told anyone that I decided (whim) to stay in Los Angeles a few hours before I headed east. Into the desert.

I passed Riverside on a really good, two-lane road. As I entered the desert, it became a 2 way, one-lane road. Hmmm. Might that have been a hint?

And then the sun set. The moon hid behind thick clouds. And THEN it got dark. Really dark. Fast. (For future travelers, there are no street lights in a desert.) Then, the wind began to blow. Sand started to dance across the road in swirls.

“Where is Palm Springs?"  I said out loud to no one as I was...have I mentioned?..alone.

Over to my right, I could see a glow that must be a city. There MUST be a turn off. Right? But not yet. I kept driving.

At this point, it hit me: no one on this planet knows where I am. No one. And I knew that Mike would not call to see if I arrived because we just didn’t do that. I would be missed if I did not arrive home on schedule.

THEN, momentarily, the moon peek through and I saw (SAW!) that I was very close to a sand dune on which there were many wind mills, looking like those monsters from The War of the Worlds.

I also saw something moving away from my headlights, quickly. Maybe a snake. Maybe a monster!

At that point, I assessed: ok, this was stupid. I probably shouldn’t have …..fill in with all the bad choices.

And then, there was a turn off. I turned off. I got to my hotel. I attended the conference. I drove back to LA in the bright sun light. Hey, those are just windmills.

And, I forgot, quite quickly, whatever lesson I should have learned.

I will say that traveling with my very careful husband put a crimp in my spontaneous ideas for adventure. It just didn’t happen.

So, here I am, traveling alone. No husband to curb my enthusiasm for adventure. Is THAT what friends mean when they question, with a concern, that I’m traveling alone?

So, let me assure you that God is watching over me.

My trip to Portland was planned and because my dinner guest had Sunday plans, I stayed over to meet him a Monday. This would give me lots of extra time to explore.

I googled a bit and saw that Timberline Lodge is 80 miles from Portland, on Mount Hood. If you've seen The Shining, you've seen the front of the lodge. Wouldn’t it be cool to drive out and get a picture? Also, as I don’t live around mountains, wouldn’t THAT be fun? So I reserved a rental car, recording the reservation with my other hard copy reservations.

I believe that God was trying to tell me something.

First, I forgot to pack Ms. Garman. I LOVE Ms. Garman. On my adventures, she has pointed me to the exact location I seek. Amazing. And isn’t it amazing that it’s easier to put one’s faith in a little electronic box than in the Creator of the Universe? (That’s a topic for another day.)

While in Las Vegas, I looked for the car reservation and could not find it. I’m still a hard copy girl so I had to flip through several of my little pocket notebooks. No dice.

 I knew I had reserved a Dodge so I checked to see which companies rent Dodges. Many. As I was arriving at the airport in the evening, the prospect of going desk to desk was bothersome. But not so off putting that I would not do it.

Then, God sat me next to a very nice man from Portland. He was returning from a business trip and was taking his daughter skiing the next day.

“Skiing?” asked I. “It’s 50 degrees in Portland.” (Such a travel planner!)

“Yes, but out on Mount Hood, they’ve got a foot of snow.”

“Way up on Mount Hood?” I asked.

“From the tree line. We always get an early snow around here.”

Quietly I drank my coffee. Then, “I am driving out to Timberland Lodge on the main road.”

“Really? What kind of car? An SUV?”

“No. Just some kind of Dodge,” I said.

“Let me show you something,” he said, poking at his phone.

He brought up a photo, just taken, of the Timberline. Covered in snow. (The Torrences would be going no where.)

“I don’t know. Maybe you should get someone to take you,” he suggested, not to dissuade me as I was a tourist and we are good for the economy and all.

Little tap on the head: no Garman. No reservation number. Lots of snow.  BAD IDEA, Lynne.

So, that adventure will have to wait.

God takes such good care of me.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is THIS 4th grade??

Ok, I spend (t) my time with 17 year-olds. LOVE high school juniors. I've always said that this is the best year in high school so as their teacher, I get to see them at their best. They are invested in getting to graduation; they've begun to see the goal and what lies beyond; they join the clubs, excel in the sports, run the newspaper; and they've matured just enough to be really clever.

But elementary? I guess I forgot. I've spending a few weeks with two AMAZING grade schoolers. And it's about Drew, the 4th grader, that I want to chat.

He's a reader. He's been a reader. Mom mentions that she restricts their media time and sends them out to play. They ride bikes and run around after homework. And when bed time comes, both curl up with a book or two until they turn out the light.

Last week, with the 4th grader, it was something every day. "We learned about idioms today. Do you know what an idiom is?"

Tell me.

"It's sayings like "push your buttons,"and "getting up on the wrong side of the bed."

That's right. Then, later, we asked again. He came up with several more.

Then it was metaphors and similes. "We learned about these today."

Oh, really? Your gamma was STILL teaching this to kids 8 years older than he is.

"Yes." (Mom taught them to say YES, not yeah. Andy is teaching them to say, "Yes, ma'am."  Like proper Texans.

"Rain is like tears."

Again, later, we asked. He got another.

Then, I was reading and came across the word "metaphor." Always the teacher, I called Drew over and pointed out the word. "See, here it is."

This was not enough. "But why? What is your book about? What's the metaphor?"

So I read to him.... he read with me... about putting on the whole armor of God.  "OH, so the part of the armor are things like 'truth.'"

Yes, that's right.

It makes my head spin, he is learning so much so fast. And, I'm having a ball.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

HUGS: Recognizing the Gifts

I have a friend who faithfully practices “Take it to the Lord in prayer.” Big things. Little things. Seemingly insignificant things.

 I, on the other hand, have struggled with this. I have found myself evaluating my needs and placing many in the ‘handle it, Big Girl’ column. I mean, God’s got the universe to run, right? And He has gifted us with brains and reasoning. We don’t need to bother Him with minutia. That used to be my mindset.

Once, my friend and I were working together, along with 10 other women, on a project, getting ready for a weekend retreat. Many trips back and forth to our cars, emergency runs to the store, and so forth. Each of us had our duties and many of us helped each other.

At one point, as I ran past my friend, she grabbed the arm of my sweater and pulled me back to her. Her eyes filled with panic. “I can’t find my keys,” she said. “I need to get into my car to get the posters and napkins and then I have to pick up my daughter and drive her to a friend’s house for the weekend. But I can’t find my keys!”

As I have many friends who multi-task and suffer from occasional brain hiccups, I own a practiced response. “Where were you last? When did you see them last? What were you doing just before you misplaced them?” This causes us to retrace our steps and focus the mind on a picture of the lost items where we last saw them.

Pulled from my own tasks, I wanted to calm her down and then get on with what I had to do. She did not give me a chance. “Pray with me, Lynne,” she said, as she slid her hand down my arm and clasped my hand.

My mouth gapped as she closed her eyes. “God,” she said, “I can’t find my keys. I need my keys. You know where they are. You can see them. Please help me find my keys.” She opened her eyes. The panic was gone.

Because I was already cocked with my memory platitudes, I drew a breath to begin. My eyes moved briefly to a podium nearby and there on the back shelf were some shiny keys. Her keys. So no quick memory jog.

Does God care when we misplace our keys? Well, sure. He cares about everything. Should we glut up the prayer network with trivialities? I used to think that we should not.

One lesson I have learned through Mike’s illness is that to my Father, nothing in my life is trivial. There are no big needs and little problems. Everything that makes up me is His concern. He wants me to trust Him to sort it out. He has not tasked me with cutting down His work load.

He longs for daily, hourly, moment-by-moment conversations with His child. He wants me to bring everything to Him in prayer. He has the biggest shoulders.

He also wants me to open my eyes to the blessings that He gives me, to the protection and love that flow from Him. If I don’t see it, it’s still there but it pleases Him when I ‘get it.’

Mike and I got knocked back on our heels with his diagnosis and prognosis. Whatever competencies we thought we possessed fell away as we faced a very different future than we had planned. And in that weakness, we fell into God’s loving arms, arms that wrapped us up tight and held us through our trial.

God demonstrated how much He cared for us, in so many ways. We came to recognize what we called HUGS from our Father. In our 4 plus years, as in any life, challenges came up, problems presented themselves. Perhaps it could go several ways. It always went the easiest way.

We came to hear God’s voice in this. Mike and I prepared, as much as we could, for Mike’s death. And God said to us, “You know what, Mike? I have one more thing for you to do before you come home. I’m going to pave the way by taking care of everything else. You concentrate on the task.”

And, as we walked through this hard thing, with God taking care of everything, we saw that He wants to handle everything.

So, we let Him. May I never forget this lesson. Life is sweeter when we cast it all on our Father.

What kind of HUGS? So Many.

Here’s just one.

When Mike was lying in the hospital, recuperating from the surgery that did not heal him, we talked a lot about how our lives had changed. We cried, we kissed, we cuddled, we talked.

I felt so helpless. I could do little to help my husband. At one point, he started listing all of the things he wished he had done in his life and this really cut into me. I had always tried to push him past those potential regrets….”Go ahead. DO IT,” was my chorus. So the motorcycles, boats, cars, guitars, etc. etc. And how foolish. Here, at what we thought was The End, he still had quite a list.

Many, but not all, were out of reach now. But one, for sure, was not.

“I wish I could get in a convertible and drive down Highway 1 to Key West.”

Wheels turning. THIS could happen, if we have the time. And as fall 2009 arrived, and he was still alive, I got busy with the plan. I secured airline tickets to Miami. I rented a convertible. I found a place for us to stay between Key West and Miami. We flew down, got the car, and started on our trek. Our first hint that this would not be ALL THAT was when we could not figure out how to lower the convertible top. It had been a while. We had to dig out the manual, locate the button AFTER we had raised the trunk….

Then, Miami was hot and crowded. We tooled through a lot of stop-and-go traffic. Once into the Keys, we remembered that the highway is single lane, two way. And, on this blistering day, road crews were busy so we sat some more in the heat.

I kept up a blithering chatter about how Mike was getting to do what he wanted. He tried to smile a lot but we were both falling out of love with this adventure.

Once we neared Key West, the sky opened up and rain poured down. Cold rain. Then, it slowed to a drizzle but by then, we were wet and shivering. So much for the convertible.

We realized that the idea of the drive was so much better than the reality. Thinking that I would be disappointed, Mike was slow to come to, “How about if we go back north?”

“Great idea. Where should we go?”

“We are flying out of Fort Lauderdale so let’s go there.”

It was a plan. But not much of one. We had no reservations and really no idea where we would land.

But God did. Who knew that with everything else on His agenda, our Father is in the concierge business?

We drove back north with a gorgeous full moon on the rise. It was getting late as we drove through Fort Lauderdale. A few miles north, the folks have incorporated the village of Lauderdale by the Sea. Small, quiet, and full up as it was.

EXCEPT, we saw a Vacancy sign flashing on a small two story building, surrounded by tall condos. As it was late, we pulled in.

The 6 space parking lot was deserted, the door was locked and there was a sign on the door:

Vacancy. Call ###-###-#### if you need a room.

We did. We did.

5 minutes later, a lady walked over with a key. She greeted us and said she was the manager. She let us in and, as we were the only guests, gave us her best room.

This little place, Courtyard Villa, used to be a private residence. It has 8 rooms and a large spa. The front door heads to the back door, locked now, which is 50 feet from the ocean. Our room….it became OUR room, has French doors that open to that ocean. We were so tired…we learned that we had keys for both doors and that the place would be open at 9 AM.

We entered the room, flung open the doors, and crashed into our bed, lulled by the swoosh of waves on sand.

It could not have been more perfect. We loved our time there and thanked God wistfully for giving us this gift of a final time at the beach.

Except it became 5 times. And we had a reservation for our anniversary.

Why did the Father direct us there? Why do we need an answer for that? It was a gift…no a hug….and one of many we received in the next four years.


Monday, October 28, 2013

This is how I roll.............

One of my favorite nieces asked one of my favorite siblings, "What is Aunt Lynne doing?"

I assume her questions has to do with my many along-the-road Facebook posts. In the last week, the burnt orange Caliber and I have logged 1765 miles, circling through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and then home.

(Sainted sister-in-law made room for one more dog: Ivy got to hang out with her buddies)

That doesn't completely answer the question.

Over the course of Mike's last 5 years, I latched on to a message board connected with The Dennis Miller Show. If you pay a few bucks, you get to be a 'premium member.' That means you can chat away with other fan boys about the show; you can also opine on politics, movies, sports, and etc.

I had just dipped my toe in and was learning the ropes....someone told me that the site uses 'ancient technology'....when our lives took a turn. And even though I was busy with helping to close the office, as well as caring for my guy, I escaped every once in a while to this message board. I became known as LynneB to kiddos all over the country...and even in Germany and S. Korea, and Canada.

The show and this site was a break from some very tense days. Then, as the tension lifted for a while, I was already there.

No where on the site does one's faith form a topic, but it doesn't take too long to pick up that someone is a believer, or an atheist, or whatever. Mainly, I had fun. And, to my surprise, I got to know these folks pretty well.

Eventually, there were PMs (private messages) and exchange of emails, and revelations of real names. I would say that I made some great friends in the DMZ (zone).

As Mike's illness progressed, some of theses friends found our blog; watched Mike's testimony; and prayed for us. On the day that Mike died, one friend called into the live show. Mr. Miller stopped the show and prayed for us on the air. Amazing.

Anyway, one thing I thought about for my post funeral days: I wanted to put some faces with some names. So, I've been traveling....Illinois, California, and my latest trek meet my cyberfriends. I must say, it's a blast.

A "Grub" Shack
As I want to take them to dinner, most pick some unique place in their city. Many bring spouse and children and we have a party. So, that's what I've been doing.

So far, I've connected with 15 people. In November, I plan to meet at least two more. That will leave a few in New Hampshire, a few in Boston, and one special lady in Anchorage. I may have to wait until the winter passes for these. But those trips are penciled in.

On this last trip, I met in Milford with Jen at Copper Blue. I met 'Rafe" and his wife and boys and we supped at The Olive Tree, an authentic Mediterranean restaurant, in Columbus. Then, I was off to Erie and a dear brother, Dean, and his wife Shirley. What a treat! He was speaking in church on Sunday.
Cuba Libre

Then, off to Philadelphia and 'Gene in Philly.'  Gene is Gene Baretta, an author and illustrator of children's books. He arranged for his pal, a Ben Franklin expert, to stroll around with me in the historical downtown. Also, we ate at Cuba Libre: I learned that this is Bill Clinton's favorite restaurant when he's in town.

A few more stops and it was time to head back to Kokomo. Logging those miles wore me out but it was so much fun. I'm resting up for the next trek.

So, THAT's what Aunt Lynne (or whatever you call me)l is doing.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The New Meyers Household

I got invited to a wedding recently; a former student had found THE ONE, and asked me to share in their special day.

When I was younger, it was friends getting married. I’d join in as one soon-to-be-married or as one already married. Planning, party, promises.  All sorts of excitement. And every bride certain that her bridesmaids would be able to wear their dresses again.

Now, weddings feature children of friends or young people in my circle for other reasons. And my reaction is much different. When the bride and groom are believers, as is the case here, I can step back and take a longer view. No matter when they ‘found’ each other, sometime in an ancient past their Father knew that they would come together and pledge to love each other for life. And on this sunny summer evening, all is beautiful; all is perfect; everybody is smiling.

I found a blank card and penned: May your lives be filled shared joy. After all, it is not good for man to be alone.

 Later, Jesus compared Christ’s union with His church to a marriage. The apostles taught that husband and wife will share values and duties to the glory of God. 

I believe that when God orchestrates such unions, it is His will that joy be the primary product. There is joy, even when hard times come, when God is in the center.

Mike and I thought it was our idea. We chose each other. We formed a union, a team.  And, at the beginning, we saw only what we expected from our marriage. Certainly, it was social acceptance. Stability. Companionship. Financial security. Legitimate status within the community.

I figured that children and a home would be part of the deal. Not sure Mike looked that far ahead. But no matter. Neither of us really recognized then what we came to know so clearly: before the foundation of the earth, in the infinite past, God chose Mike for Lynne and Lynne for Mike. And God saw the path that our lives would take, both separately and together.

When we held hands on June 8, 1974, and repeated the vows, sure we knew the words: richer/poorer, in sickness and in health, for better and worse, until death do us part. But nobody was giving audience to poverty, illness, or death. And nobody was thinking about how far away death might be. We were signing up for life. What? 40 years is a lifetime when you are 23.

God saw the path of our 39 years. He knew that our first child, so carefully planned, would be stillborn. He knew we would weather this and would grow in our faith. He knew that we would grow closer together. He knew.

God knew that as we approached our 35th anniversary, doctors would find metastatic cancer in my husband; God knew that this would knock us for a loop and then bring us into such a sweet time of fellowship with Him.

He knew that we would confound the medical community. He knew that as we prepared for Heaven, He had a task for Mike, one final job, before he got to walk the Streets of Gold. And so He prepared the way for us by equipping us with skills and tools that would make the task less daunting.

My prayer for this special couple is a life of happiness. That doesn’t always mean smiles. It can mean an adventure as a team. It can mean that, someday, they will look back and marvel at the path their Father had in mind.

Bless them and their union, Holy Father.