September 20, 2006
This Day That God Gives Me
The grounds of the Long Beach Marriott. Only steps away from the airport runways its like and oasis in a sea of concrete!This day that God sends me,
Strength as my Steersman,
Might to uphold me,
Wisdom as guide,
Your eyes are watchful,
Your ears are listening
Your Lips are speaking
Friend at my side,
God's way is my way,
God's shield is round me,
God's Hosts defend me,
Saving from ill.
Angels of Heaven,
Drive from me always,
All that would harm me
Stand by me still!
From the Sept. 19 devotion in "Magnificat" magazine
Sund to the tune of "Morning Has Broken"
Our Fight from XNA ( Northwest Arkansas Regional) to LAX was not without event. Both ourselves and our checked bags went through intensive screening. I was breifly on the infamous "no fly" list while in Hawaii, but was removed...perhaps. I dont believe it co incedental. Like My dear friend Smoothstone
once said of a trip to Ellis Island, "You dont mind that they are doing it...( the security stuff) But, you mind like hell WHY they have to do it. Poor Woody was practically strip searched. Is it because, do you suppose, because he is a fat man? Let me tell you he is the least likely looking terrorist you have ever seen... They found a tube of Fixodent in his pants and gave him hell for it. He said "well, I cant eat on the plane without it..." and the TSA lady laughed and said " Dont worry they wont feed you..." Which they did not on the nearly four hour flight.
As we flew over field and farmland westward, I thought a lot about this past nearly two years since the last time I saw my Mother, and made this journey. I was grateful for out next door neighbors, the Luber's of the blog "Kijabe and Back"
Gene, who drove us to the airport and Ginger who asured me that they would watch the house. For Pastor David who said when I spoke to him this morning that he wanted to spend a half hour playing the piano and singing at his home in tribute during the hour that the service was going on. He asked what her favorite songs were and said that he knew that while I was relieved, that he knew this was very hard for me and of course it is...
And for my aunts Mary and Ima who came out and saw my Mom through her last hours and days, then valliantly did the lion's share of the clean up of Mom's room and going through her stuff. We arrived at their hotel room to find it full of stuff boxes and bags mostly photos. Woody and I, who have become expert "cleaner outers" after Hawaii and more recently a rather brutal clean out of own garage went to work. We reduced it all in short order to one box for us and two boxes for each of the ladies and several boxes of stuff for my nephew David, my brother's son, mostly photos of him while growing up. We shipped it home via UPS store. Pack and ship is a wonderful thing.
At four we decided to take a break and Woody and I drove to the old neighborhood where I grew up. I knew that several ladies that were my mother's friends still lived there. Two did, one our next door neighbor, Mrs Hilte, a saintly Christian woman now 90 and as sharp as a tack, the other the "lady down the street" Mrs. Presley, whose family attended the same church that we did growing up, and was a place I could got to if things got really bad at home...which they did often.
Woody and I had a delightful time, he meeting them for the first time and hearing a bit of the history. We all sat down and had a good visit sharing the news and taking time to talk about my Mom. Both of them were not able to go to the service so having the time to share was so good and there were really glad that we took the time to come and see them.
Mrs Presley is a Native of Arkansas, and grew up near where we live now. She thinks its amazing that NW Arkansas has become a "place to be", when all she can remember is hard scrabble farming and a longing to get to California. She still has family in the Huntsville area and we invited her to look us up...
Mrs. Hilte has farmed there on a lot next door to the small family home for 50 years really until her husband died and she wanted to devote her time to other things. This family grew nearly everything they ate on that 1/2 acre, and while my family was skeptical,as I was growing up, of their vegetarian/organic diet (my parents, healthy people that they were... not) the proof is in the garden, folks.
Both of these ladies gave me things that I didnt understand the value of until much much later. Mrs Presley was married to an older man who was ill all of the time I knew him, with emphesyma. But there wasnt confusion and craziness in their house but order and calm. They had no money for much, but her kids were pushed to excel at school and rebellion was not tolerated. There were piano lessons and sports and that short of thing that my parents refused us for reasons such as "we dont have the money" or "they play games on sundays and have too many practices" In short it made a difference on how her kids grew up. Sane and college educated...
The peacable tanquility, the pride of place, and the Christian uprightness of this woman's life has made an imprint on me. All of my life I have longed for my home to have that patina of care overlayed on it. The antiques of an Ozark girlhood, including working Spinning wheels, and looms, and other tools of a womans country life were present, and living, not just mere curiousities, they had been used by her grandmother and she demonstrated their use to my curious mind on many occasions that I came to play with her daughter in their back yard. I was never thought of as the child of the "church basketcase family" or the daughter of the crazy people down the street.
Mrs Hilte was our piano teacher and for several years we both went over and had lessons from her. She was very wise and witty and I heard godly wisdom before I understood. She firmly beleived that verse about "to everday is its own trouble, so dont worry about tomorrow. I really tried to live by that but it was a hard thing, and is for everyone especially someone that was surrounded by people that took worrying to its highest level and made it an art form. A mother of 5 children all of whom have had troubled lives..(from a brilliant but troubled PHd daughter to four sons one a steady freddy none acheiver, one died in infancy, one with downs syndrome that grew so violent he was placed in the states care, to maybe the most tragic, the youngest son, a brilliant musician, on staff with Jerry Falwell's church but then developed a serious "illness" and was dead at 38. No one speaks of it, but I know... we know that Paul died of AIDS, and lived his whole life in the closet...
Woody remarked on her serenity, "a life like her's would sour most people" but it didnt. Both of these women rely on thier God and live out the little poem at the top of this post. In these days where I am closing doors on my past and seeing some people for the last time in this life. I need to remind myself that todays troubles are enough and I too can trust in that "Strength as My Steersman" that He will steer me in the proper direction as well...
Roses! How I miss roses! It is thought that the climate here in Southern California is one of the best for growing them. Taken on the grounds of White's Funeral Home Bellflower CAlifornia