Friday, February 22, 2013

What Mama Did: The Library

Linking up today with Lisa Jo over at Five Minute Friday.

She took us to the library. It's one of the most consistent memories of my childhood and the one that cemented in me a voracious love of reading everything I could get my hands on.

The first library was the one in a converted house at the far edge of our town. Tiny, cramped, jammed full of books. I can still see the shelf where Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret lived. Declared off-limits to me, I remember sneaking peeks inside while Mom was otherwise occupied with a brother. I can see the room where the career catalogs were housed and that's where I had the notion that maybe, just maybe, I could be a physical therapist. (Later lack of joy in the sciences nipped that dream quickly.) I can see the dust mites floating from the ceilings as the afternoon sun shone in.

The next library was the one we went to every Friday for seemingly forever. She'd pick us up from school, we piled into the station wagon and later the brown Grand Prix and we'd travel into DC to the doctor so my brother could get his allergy shots. This weekly requirement was only made tolerable by knowing that the library awaited after he was done. Hillcrest Heights library was a little bit of heaven for us. Aisles and aisles of books. We'd seemingly read our way through what the neighborhood library had to offer, but doubted we'd ever run out of choices here. I remember Caddie Woodlawn and thinking she had such a pretty name. Graduating from young adult to the adult section upstairs was a delightful rite of passage.

And then there was the church library, housed in a little musty room, filled with every single Grace Livingston Hill book every written (which I only picked up as a last resort). What a blessing that little library was to minds looking for adventures to take them away from the everyday routine.

During the college years, I spent hours inside the library as a necessity, not for the joy or love of reading. Later I was actively involved in another church library, this time using my love of the library as ministry. The first thing I tried to do when we moved to a new community four years ago was to get a library card, but they made me wait. I was so new in town I couldn't prove I was a resident and eligible for a card. "But I love the library!" I bemoaned. "This is my very first stop." To no avail. Once I received the first electric bill, you bet I went to get my library card!

I still love the library. Yes, I love Amazon -- click, click and books appear on my doorstep or on my Kindle, but there's just something about the library. I think a little bit of my heart lives there, thanks to Mom.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Linking up today with the ladies at Five Minute Friday.

She was raised in Africa, the daughter of missionary parents. A special part of her heart will always be reserved for Africa.

Sent off to boarding school at age 7, she only saw her parents three months out of the year between school sessions. She hated it, hated being away from her parents.

Her mother died when she was 12. She was, as she says, "left here" in the U.S. at age 17 on her own to make her way. She went to Bible school and resisted a call to return to Africa. She knew she should, but didn't want to go back as a single woman.

With a deep desire for marriage and children, she married a man she knew she shouldn't. He was still in love with a former flame. After two children, two heart surgeries, nearly three decades of marital turmoil and stress, she couldn't do it anymore. They divorced. The divorce was granted on Valentine's Day.

She's trained as a nurse and is now semi-retired, spending as much time as she can volunteering. She's nearly died twice from her heart ailment. She has many regrets, but knows God is gracious, loving and forgiving. She knows that despite her choices and her mistakes, she is His beloved. She shares her story as often as she can with young people in the hopes that they will avoid making the same mistakes she made, that they will listen to the One voice, the Only voice that matters.

I just met her last night as we were volunteering side by side. As I listened, enraptured with her story, all I could think was God is good, God is gracious, we are loved.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Funny Valentine

I warned him. As our first Valentine's Day together approached, I made it clear that I thought Valentine's Day is an overrated, silly holiday. (This coming from a girl who, along with her single lady friends, used to wear black on February 14 in protest.) He and I were still trying to figure out what exactly we were. Friends, for sure, but a couple? Not quite.

So when he showed up at my apartment with a bag of candy, I became suspicious. Then he whipped out a bouquet of flowers. Amid my protests, he proceeded to say we were going out for dinner and then to a movie. Candy, flowers, dinner and a movie ... does a more cliche Valentine's Day exist? What could I do but laugh? The point goes to the romantic. Mission accomplished.

Since that first Valentine's Day, we've gotten married, blended a family, survived the teen years and celebrated children's graduations, engagements and weddings. We've lost a dog and gained two more. We've sat together at the bedsides of dying friends. We've faced family crises and health concerns. We've traveled places we never thought we'd see and celebrated milestone birthdays together. We've sold a house, changed communities and completely renovated a house. We've been through unemployment and watch God bring us to where he intended.

We've journeyed a million miles and I look forward to journeying a million more together.

I'm still not a huge fan of Valentine's Day and all its related expectations, heartbreak and expense. But I no longer wear black in protest and I have come to appreciate the importance of letting a romantic be a romantic. I am a blessed woman in that my valentine shows me he loves me every day by working hard, putting me first, being patient with me, surprising me and making me laugh.

All these Valentine's Days later, we've grown into our love and we laugh more often than ever. Thanks for the laughs, valentine. I'm glad you're mine.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Linking up today with Five Minute Friday. Today's word is Bare.

Their favorite color is red. Red is sassy. Forget the pastels and Tallulah Blue just didn't work.

Their favorite place is exfoliating on the beach as the ocean waves crash. They'll never be found up close and personal with a hotel carpet.

They are almost always cold, even when snuggled cozily under the comforter. They take a beating every single day as they log mile after mile through the neighborhood with the dogs.

Geography mandates that they are bundled up for more months than they'd like, but their favorite state of being? Bare.

Monday, February 4, 2013

She Was Unafraid

Even though it's Monday, I'm still going to write for Five-Minute-Friday! This week's word is afraid.

It was the evening of her birthday. We'd shared dinner together, our husbands were outside, her daughter was doing her evening routine. We settled into the living room and she snuggled under a blanket.

"I want you to know that if this is it, I'm OK," she said. I nodded, knowing, yet speechless. "I mean, I will miss my family and my friends, and I will fight this, but if this is it, I will be healed and won't have to deal with this illness anymore."

Four days earlier, she'd gone in for an ultrasound of her gall bladder. But the information that came back had nothing to do with her gall bladder. The results were that her breast cancer had come back and was in her liver.

Just shy of two months later, I spent a Tuesday with her. Same living room, same blanket. She was running a slight temperature. The doctor feared infection and told her to come the ER right away.

When I saw her again the next day, they were waiting for hospice. Then began a beautiful, horridly difficult six-day journey to her ultimate healing. A journey in which she showed all of us what it means to not be afraid.