God's Faithfulness, Holidays

Holiday Stories: The Endings

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God for it is written ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’

Romans 12:19 (ESV)

My holidays with extended family were filled with stories of past events. (See here.) However, they were also filled with the beginnings and middles of future stories. How would those stories end?

One advantage of being old—I need at least one—is that I have lived to see many endings. I have seen and continue to see the faithfulness of God as he writes the rest of the story.

A sample of endings: Those who were slandered were vindicated. Those who were greedy became impoverished. Those who seemed shallow shared wisdom. Those who were outcasts were given innumerable friends. Those who served the Lord left this earth with honor. Alleged victims were revealed as liars. Enemies were reconciled. Reformed thieves gained trust.

Along the way, I learned that vengeance truly does belong to the Lord. Only he can deal fairly with the hearts of men.

Have you ever wished for a little—or perhaps a lot—of vengeance after a holiday gathering?

God's Faithfulness, Stories I Share

The Stories I Share: Last Photo

One evening, I received a call from a special cousin. “The cancer is in my spinal fluid,” she said. “I’ve been given four to eight weeks.”

“Would you like me to come?”

“I would love to see your face one more time.”

There were blessings each day of my journey. However, I especially wanted one—a last photo with Cheryl. When and how should I ask? I didn’t want tears or forced, false cheerfulness.

My last evening, we stopped at Buc-ees for beef jerky. The Texas icon is not quickly described. All that is important is that the mascot is Buc-ee the Beaver, and Cheryl and I thoroughly enjoyed romping through the massive convenience store examining—and sometimes playing with—the merchandise.

Before we left, I asked Cheryl’s husband to snap a photo of me with Buc-ee’s statue. (Such photos are a family tradition.) Cheryl quickly and unexpectedly hopped out of the car and joined me.

November 19, 2014

I had my photo. A moment of silliness, not sadness. A fitting memory of a woman who loved playing jokes and making people laugh.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15

Family, Holidays, Sharing Stories

Share the Stories Pt. 2

The upcoming holidays can be rich with stories as well as food.

During visits to father’s parents, I sat at the dining table from one meal until almost time for the next. Why? Stories.

My paternal grandfather only told a couple stories, and my paternal grandmother never told one until I was an adult. However, their sons—my father and his two younger brothers—filled my grandparents’ holiday tables with tales. Mamaw was a skilled cook, but her food is not what I remember.

These brothers became the best storytellers.

The evening’s entertainment by the fire included more stories by the brothers. (Their sister wasn’t given an opportunity.)

The stories entertained, but along the way, I learned their importance. I learned to ask particular questions. (See here.)

Decades ago, I bought It’s Your Story: Pass it On by Colgin and van der Ven. Available on websites selling used books, it is the easiest guide I have found for capturing family history. Reticent family members easily answered the probing and interesting questions.

Has a family story enriched your life?

Favorites, Friendship

Exceptional Hospitality

Along the way, I learned much from experiencing memorable welcomes in homes.

In 1974, my Sunday School teachers—a married couple with young children—invited my class to their modest home for a sit-down dinner. Excluding bathrooms, every room was set for food—TV trays and card tables abounded. Their goal was to feed college students, not impress. I was impressed.

During dinner, Carol jumped up from her table, snatched a vase, and said “I forgot that I promised to return this yesterday.” Off she went. Laughing, she returned minutes later. “My neighbor forgot I had it.” Carol and Mike’s realness ministered to this teenager.

In 1982, an elder and his wife invited our entire church—hundreds and hundreds—to their farm for games and a potluck. Their property was massive. Their house wasn’t. The women stood in line to use the master bathroom. The room was clean, but cluttered. We navigated piles of neatly stacked books. The bed contained loads of clothes to be folded. Surfaces overflowed with carefully arranged papers. The woman in front of me turned and said, “Now this is what I call hospitality.” Her words stuck.

Oh, to welcome people so freely!

Decisions

The Night I Simply Showed Up

I feel the breath of 70 on my neck, which makes maintaining muscle tone more crucial than ever. To reach that goal, I walk, swim and have a consistent water aerobics routine.

One day, as I thought about my upcoming evening at our community pool, I realized that the joy of being in the water was gone. I worried about losing levels of fitness if I didn’t maintain and attempt to increase both my laps and my water aerobics’ repetitions. I kept mental track of every exercise—until that night.

When I stepped into the pool that night, I knew that lowering my standard to simply showing up would prevent me from dropping out.

I didn’t count repetitions. I skipped routines, knowing I could incorporate them another pool day. I realized that—if I was to continue—I needed the relaxation of being in the pool as much or more than the physical exercise.

Has lowering standards kept you from giving up?