Room 15

My mama had pancreatic cancer. She chose hospice care, instead of trying to battle this particular intruder. I know that there are many (too many) who are and will face this beast called cancer, pa…

Source: Room 15

God’s Plan Was (Un) Expected

Expected: regard (something) as likely to happen
Unexpected:  unforeseen; surprising

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Jesus knocked on our door today.  His name was Mr. Johnson.*

He rang the doorbell, actually, 2 or 3 times before he knocked.  It was 8:30am – a Sunday morning!  The dogs were barking.  Our quiet sleep-in was breached.

The youngest had already clambered out of bed and peeked through the curtains to bring me this full report:  “It’s a tax man or business man or something.”

“On a Sunday morning?”, I quietly asked myself, rhetorical, of course.  So then, with much less effort required to clamber, I got out of bed and went to the door.  I held onto the collar of our eldest furry matriarch as I opened the door just a smidgen enough to look this unannounced visitor in the eyes.

What happened next was a blur.  A sudden, wonderful rush of glad tidings.  I okayed it with our guest that he was good with dogs, and invited this stranger-no-more inside.

“Reed, put a shirt on and come out here please”, I called to our recent high school graduate.

Mr. Johnson stepped inside, offering his hand for the sniff-test and subsequent, almost obligatory, pet patting of both of our dogs, before Reed rounded the corner.

“Hello Reed!  I’m with Haddum Corporation.*  Some time ago, you applied to our scholarship program, and I don’t know how it happened, but your name was overlooked at the award ceremony at your school last month.  So I’m here this morning to congratulate you, young man, and award you our highest scholarship.  We are so proud of you for continuing your education and following your dreams.”

***********

Reed had applied to a handful of scholarships this year, but hadn’t received a single one outside of the merit-based state scholarship and a small scholarship at the college where he had applied.  He had received rejection letters (hate calling them that, but they do leave you feeling rejected, none-the-less) from all of the places he applied except for Haddum.

When Reed was invited to attend the awards ceremony at his high school in May, we all were hopeful that he would then receive a scholarship award from Haddum.  Instead, he came home with an unexpected recognition certificate for Theatre Arts – which totally surprised us! – but no Haddum scholarship.  9 other students received one, but not Reed.  It was disheartening.

************

In this life,
You shake off disappointments.
You rid yourself of that feeling of rejection.
And you move forward.
You don’t condemn Haddum.
You congratulate your fellow students who received the scholarship.
And you trust that God has worked everything out for you.

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And when you least expect it, God shows up, sometimes in person, to confirm that He has worked things out and that He is still in control.  He knocks on your door at 8:30am on a Sunday morning, unexpected, to bring you news of good tidings and joy.  He blows your mind.  He loves you.  And He reminds you that all you have to do is Trust Him.

God’s plans are always better than anything we can hope for.

This morning, in our little house, we were given a gift – more than the scholarship.  We were given a tangible reminder of God With Us.  All the time.  Not just when we feel He “shows up in person”.  God has been here the whole time, waiting on His perfect timing, so that He would be Glorified through this generous gifting.

Had Reed received the scholarship from Haddum at the awards ceremony, it would have been expected, sort of, and honestly, it would have been easy to give Reed the glory for obtaining it.  BUT, even when (even though) we work hard to achieve things, God is The One to receive all the Glory, for it is only by His Hands that we are able to do great things.

This morning I am praising Him, and thanking Him…

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!  

Great things He hath done.
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*The names of the business and scholarship presenter have been changed.

Beyond My Mess

Fall puts an interesting spin on summertime gardens.  As the lush greens begin to fade, and the flowers become spindly trying to eek out one more perfect bloom, the continuity, or as some like to call it, the “flow and ebb” of the garden is visibly interrupted and turned into something lacking in uniformity and peace-filling symmetry.  Usually this time of year finds me trimming and cutting and pulling and such, trying to maintain some sort of control over an ultimately failing Southern Living cover dream, but not this year.  This year, I let it go.  I decided to watch and see what would naturally happen without my hands interrupting.  And oh, the beauty!  And the bounty!  And the splendor found when looking purposefully beyond the apparent.

Fall Garden 2015

Isn’t that how God sees us?  Up close and personal, beyond the apparent mess?  He looks past all the scraggly stuff, the fading things and the heap of tangled limbs and twigs, and sees the beautiful, intimate parts of who we are.  That’s what Jesus Christ does for us.  Because of Him, God is able to see the most amazing, beautiful pieces of us.  He doesn’t see the chaos.  He doesn’t see the askew.  He sees us, His perfect creation, in all the splendor He created us with.  Without Jesus, God couldn’t look upon us and see us as unblemished and blameless.  But because of Jesus, God sees us up close.  He sees our most intimate selves, our true selves, and finds that in our season of change, we are more beautiful than ever.  We’ve sprung forth from the ashes, grown under the Son, set seed in fertile ground and are fading…but only for a moment.  Thank you, Jesus! 

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This scraggly looking bush…

has these beautiful flowers

houses these delicate little flowers within.

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This carpet of weedy stuff (amaranth)…

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looks like this, up close.

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The furmosa lily is way beyond the beautiful show of pure white flowers, but it’s seed pods hold the promise of new life in the next season.

Rock-A-Bye Baby, A Sweet Remember

…twenty-three years! Holding that first baby boy in my arms was literally just two blinks ago. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Drakeford. I love you. Much. <3, Ma

the toenail

Rock-A-Bye Baby, A Sweet Remember

Remembering the warmth of this little body against mine. His chubby cheek on my shoulder. Probably a little drool, too. The rhythm of his every breath. His complete and satisfied rest, in arms that were so eager to hold him and so uncertain of much else in this world. We’ve come a long way, baby! Praising God today for His grace and mercy that have allowed me to look upon moments like this and see that His arms were confidently around us then, and remain with us today. Feeling blessed, undeserving, and loved beyond measure, as I am able to celebrate twenty-one years of being a momma today. Thank you, Lord! Happy Birthday, Drake. ❤

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Trailer By The Sea

In memory of Nana.
Written by her oldest grandson, Drakeford.
Click the title below, and enjoy.

Trailer By The Sea

NaNa & Boys

Barbara Lanier Anderson
Dec 1944 – Jul 2015

Mom’s Tank Top

My mom has cancer.
Pancreatic.
It’s a ferocious intruder.

Our days, 50 since her confirmed diagnosis, have been mechanical.
We’ve tended to things.
Like setting up her bedroom.
Our home.
Getting a wheelchair. And walker.  And shower chair.
We’ve taken care of paper work.
Opened our home to visitors and guests.
Family and friends.
Hospice.
Picked up too many prescriptions.
And bags of ice from Sonic.
And worn out her craving for orange slushies.
We’ve dotted I’s and crossed T’s.
Days have come, and days have gone.
Numbered.
But task-filled.

Then there was today.

       Today was hard.

Momma, still very mechanical and checking off boxes,
Showed me the pajamas she wants to be buried in.
They are beautiful.
Colorful.
Flowery.
Momma asked me to buy a tank top to go with the pajama shirt.
That I can put on her, underneath the pajama shirt.
When it is time.
For her to be buried.

So I went to Belk.
With mom’s burial pajamas in tow.
I found two tank tops right away that matched nicely.
One green, the other, blue.
Then I spent the next hour and a half, just walking around the store.
Counting down the minutes.
Until it closed.
Letting my thoughts wander, and wonder, and prepare
For checking off this final box.
A final task.

This whole thing seems surreal.
I mean, my momma’s sick.
She’s not getting better.
And even though I know this, it still feels like
When I wake up one morning,
She’s going to be healed.
In the flesh.
And having a great day.
I know this is not likely to happen.
But I still feel like none of this is really happening.
Just 3 months ago, momma was dancing at her grandson’s wedding.
Just a week ago, she was shelling a bushel of butterbeans.
And today?
Well.
Today, I bought her a tank top.
I finished her ensemble.
And a final task box is now checked off.

       I cried the whole way home from the store.
       Crying out loud for one more good day.
       One more Sonic run, with momma riding shotgun.
       One more afternoon of her sitting at the kitchen table
       Watching me unload the grocery bags
       Like a parent watching their child open Christmas packages.
       Why can’t she have one more good day?
       So at 1:15pm, I can call from work and interrupt Days of our Lives.
       Or she can sit with me outside
       And marvel at the birds, flowers, heat.
       Just one more day!
       One more day of no pain.
       And no worry.
       And no cares.

She told me which shoes to pair with her burial pajamas.
She calls them her wedding shoes
Since she wore them to her oldest grandson’s wedding this spring.
And I thought
it very appropriate
For His bride to be wearing wedding shoes
As she enters the Kingdom
of her Groom.

A tanktop.
A surrender
To what is to come.

She chose the green one.
And just like that, the box was marked with a  check.

Perception

This is a cardoon.

Cardoon    Cardoon

A scraggly-looking plant.
For more than 2 years now,
I’ve let this thing grow in my garden.
Unremarkable, really,
until mid-summer
when it shows off by shooting upward a spiky, purple flower.
Here’s the flower from last year.

Cardoon flower

Cool, isn’t it?
I call it a punk-rock flower.

Thing about this cardoon,
It looks scraggly most of the time.
Leaves,
some soft as lamb’s ear,
other’s prickly like a briar bush,
jut out here and there.
I’m always cutting leaves out of my mowing path.
And often,
the lower leaves look exhausted,
so I excuse them from life with my clippers.
Regardless of my disregard for it most days,
the cardoon is faithful
and provides the splendor of a purple tufted crown
for our viewing pleasure
a couple of weeks in June and July.
It’s almost time again.
A firm, artichoke-like bud has formed.
Standing at about 5 and a half feet tall,
it will probably reach a good 6 and a half feet before opening.
I am 5’2″
so I can’t see the top of the bud this year.
To remedy this problem,
I took a picture while holding my camera above my head.
What I saw
when looking at the camera’s instant capture
completely floored me.

Cardoon

It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
At eye-level,
this plant is unimpressive
and appears little more than a weed.
But from God’s view,
it is perfect
in it’s design.
The symmetry,
invisible to a level passerby,
is remarkable.
There is a purpose for every single “jut” of a leaf.
Things I saw as random and awkward,
are actually specifically engineered
by The Master’s Hand
to connect to the leaf above
in a grand design
that is a beauty
unlike any
I could have seen
with my limited perception.

Life is like that sometimes.
Things seem to happen
or go on around us
that make no sense.
Sometimes circumstances
or situations
we find ourselves in
or crawling out of
don’t seem to have a purpose.
And
let’s face it,
life is hard.
Chaotic seeming even.
There are highs and lows
and often it feels like they happen simultaneously.

But then I see this cardoon
as He sees this same cardoon
and I realize
that what I see as mess
and chaos
and disorganization,
in disregard,
Our Heavenly Father sees as
beauty
and perfection
and formulation
in satisfaction.
He sees His complete creation
in it’s complete imperfection.
And He is pleased.

I believe that He sees me in the same way.
Not the jutting leaves of my choices
or the exhaustion of my journey.
He doesn’t see me weary
or in the way
or unimpressive.
And He doesn’t save His love
only for the times
when I send Him a flower head.

He sees me whole
from beginning to end
and finds me quite remarkable.

The cardoon.

It’s my favorite plant in the garden!

Cardoon

 

What Prayers Smell Like

At too early o’clock, the alarm sounds.
The day is here.
Today we might have an answer to an unknown.
Is it cancer?
Is it fixable?
Whatever it is, we are ready.
Maybe.
“No surprises” has become our catch phrase.
Something mom and I share, but have never really even discussed.
We just know what it means to us, and what we face.
Together.
This day I wake with the mechanics of our schedule ordering my steps.
My Bible is on the round, “I think I look expensive but I’m not” desk in the corner of the room.
It remains unopened, as I am tied to the long hand of the clock.
Shouldn’t I feel guilty about that?
Because I don’t.
Shouldn’t I feel anxious about what the day holds?
About what the doctors will find?
Because I don’t.
I actually am feeling a little anxious over not feeling anxious.
Over not feeling bothered by leaving the Bible unopened this early morning.
I slip on my jacket, certain that Charleston’s early May weather will hand me a chill as I exit the hotel.
I leave momma in the room while I load her breath-giving silver tanks onto a luggage dolly and head downstairs.
The sun is bright.
Markedly so.
Almost as if it’s illuminated by all it touches, in reflection.
It casts interesting dancers across the hotel lobby floor, which is all shiny and newly polished.
As I step beyond the grand entrance into the world, it hits me.
And God says to my heart, “Child, do not be anxious. Your peace comes from Me. This is what it feels like to be enveloped in the loving arms of your Savior, and the prayers lifted on your momma’s behalf and for you? Breathe in the sweet aroma. This is the smell of prayers.”
The air is warm, and laden with a familiar, briny fragrance rolling in from the waters.
Momma’s always loved the coasts of the Carolinas.
There’s just something healing in the sands, the sounds, the smells of the shore.
I need no jacket this day, for I am wrapped in the warmth and comfort of Christ.
And a bunch of  wonderfully fragrant prayers.

Mother’s Day Tide Table

The winds are shifting.
The current is trying to decide,
“Should I come in, or should I go out?”
Though the sun is shining,
eve promises to cut short it’s brightness.
Waves lap, without tiring, in a rhythmic  march.
Rolling.
Rolling.
Rolling.

Change is a given in this world.

Tomorrow, the winds will be blowing differently.
The current will still be questioning.
The sun will come up, and the sun will go down.
And the waves, they will continue to move things into position.

But today.
Today, I find comfort in the constant that is change,
knowing that by His great design and promises,
every single thing in this life…
– HEAR ME ON THIS –
every.single.thing.in.this.life.
WORKS TOGETHER
for the good of those who love God;
those who are called according to His purpose.

Knowing this fact makes

watching the winds shift,
and seeing the current struggle,
and finding the sun falling and the darkness rising,
and feeling the onward, unwavering march of the waves

a beautiful, comfortable thing.

This mother’s day, I am thankful for understanding the depths of His love a little bit better.
The forecast is exactly as He would have it.
And I am trusting Him completely.

O is for…

Sometimes you just have to get out of the way and let the girl have an Oreo.
Or five.
Don’t judge me by the cookie bag hidden under the seat in my car.
Absolutely necessary is the need for a cookie every now and then.
Like oxygen.
Oreos.
And oxygen.
The need is real.