LollipopandPearls Theme Song

"Lollipop and Pearls" - Jared Kraft

Monday, August 30, 2010

Life and Legacy

What is the value of life…and what will my legacy be when my earthly life is over?

I’ve pondered both questions the last 4 months, as we have buried 2 of my favorite people in the world. Alzheimer’s robbed my Aunt Bibbie, once a concert pianist, of the ability to think, speak, feed herself, and for the last 2 ½ years of her life, the ability to even walk! My “twin” cousin, Susan (their daughter) was an attorney in Orlando, FL. Her eldest brother died in 1981 and her younger brother died about 2-years ago, leaving her my aunt and uncle’s only living child they had. When Alzheimer’s reared its ugly head, Susan moved her parents to Orlando, sold her home and purchased another with them, gave up her law practice and cared full time for them. Aunt Bibbie’s eternal homegoing occurred in April of this year.

By the time Aunt Bibbie died, Uncle Jerry was several years into Alzheimer’s, also. A former Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, this once-in-control-domineering man slipped into full dependency for bathing, eating, dressing…anything that required small or large motor coordination. His mind was also robbed of the ability to think, reason, or remember with a few exceptions. For example, when I drove my mother to my aunt’s funeral in Mississippi, he knew my Mom but had no idea who I was. In fact, Susan shared that he rarely knew who she was. Sadly~ perhaps, and perhaps not~ he did not even seem to comprehend that his “Babe” (mu Aunt Bibbie) had passed away.

On August 10, 2010 Uncle Jerry peacefully breathed his last earthly breath in a Hospice Center in Orlando, Florida. My mom and Susan had just left his room to eat, when they received the call that he had died. Susan lost both parents within 4 months of one another and both brothers preceded her in death! We had a small, but lovely, memorial service in Franklin, KY., where most of the relatives reside. Many cousins, aunts and uncles came whom we had not seen for 20+ years. One brought photo albums filled with pictures of my Mom as a young lady, my grandmother, even photos of Susan and me as babies. It was a small family reunion, of sorts, and a blessed event. Susan’s nephew, David, played the bagpipes at the beginning and end of the service, wearing Uncle Jerry’s full kilt regalia. His last name (my mother’s maiden name) was Gregory, of the clan Gregor of Scotland. Many sweet memories of Uncle Jerry were shared.

My mom and my cousin had written a piece for the pastor to read, briefly summarizing Uncle Jerry’s life in the military, as a husband and a dad, as he had never met my aunt and uncle. The pastor did a marvelous job of sharing the importance of being prepared for eternity NOW! But here’s what struck me: When he finished reading it he said he felt like he did know my uncle. He sensed love, admiration and respect from people of all walks of life for Uncle Jerry. Then he said something to the effect of “I don’t know where he was spiritually; nothing was mentioned in the piece I read”…and suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw the dash between his date of birth and date of death, and I wondered where eternity will be for him. Oh, I hope and pray it is in Heaven with my aunt; that’s what my heart wants to believe. Yet, I never heard him talk about God or his salvation. Perhaps it was a very private matter to him…perhaps it wasn’t until he was put in the hospice facility and my mom sat by his bedside reading some of the Bible to him and talking to him about Jesus (even though he did not seem to be cognizant)…truth is, I am not sure.

This I DO know: he was a wonderful man (not perfect), but wonderful…he served our country well and for a long time…he loved his wife and children AND his extended family…all of that is a part of his legacy, all a part of the dash between birth and death. Yet, those accomplishments, those endearments, those good qualities of life are not what gets anyone to Heaven. It is only by a willful decision on the part of each individual to invite Christ into his/her life to be his/her Savior and Lord, relinquishing control to the Heavenly Father, asking for forgiveness of sins and accepting the power of the Holy Spirit within to guide him/her into all righteousness that a person’s salvation is granted and secure and that he/she is heaven bound! It is the one decision that no one can make for another person! It has to come from within and be between a person and the Lord!

So, I ask you—are you prepared? (You may not be “ready”, as in a hurry to get there), but are you prepared? And what will be said of the dash on your headstone between the date of birth and the date of death? It is never too late to change the course…it’s up to you!

Please visit here to read Linda Ellis’ poem entitled “The Dash”

Monday, August 16, 2010

A vacation from my vacation?

Every year since I was born (with one exception) my parents have taken our family (now 15 of us) on an annual vacation. It is the highlight of our year! We have been to Florida numerous times, out west ending in California, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Hawaii; we’ve been on a Caribbean cruise and a Hawaiian cruise; we’ve been to Acapulco many times…We work at least one jigsaw puzzle (someone always manages to “hide” one piece), sunbathe, swim, read, play board games, play Rummy and/or Gin, tell jokes, shop… It is time alone and lots of time together. What a blessed gift my parents have given us~ not so much in where we have gone but in the being together! We spend quality time in the quantity of time away from the routine normalcy of life! No bills to pay! Fewer meals to prepare! No unsolicited phone calls! No house cleaning! No errand running! Little, if any, washing of clothes! Just pure l-a-z-y rest and relaxation! So why is it, then, that often when we return I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation? Could it be a big does of reality hits me and I realize I am back to grocery shopping, meal preparing, house cleaning, errand running, bill paying, clothes washing…my “nor*mal” life? What is “normal”? “Nor” means “not” and “mal” means “bad”….so, then, my NORMAL life is “not bad”! So perhaps my “normal life” is my vacation from the annual vacation; and maybe the annual vacation is vacation from my normal life? This is so confusing, I’m even confused! Just enjoy some photos, then…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blessed yet stressed…and then some!

Haven’t blogged in a long while for various and sundry reasons, most of which I will not bore you with. I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic; home for 2 ½ days; then on family vacation (all 15 of us!) to West Palm Beach; home and preparing for school to begin on the 17th; my dear Uncle is at the point of death in Florida…stressed, yet blessed!

Have you ever been to the point of desiring to blog, having many things to say, yet the creativity ebbs and flows…and at times seems to have disappeared?! Well, that’s me of late! I coulda, shoulda, oughta, wanna…but it just doesn’t happen! I cannot even really honestly say, “I’m back!” ‘cuz I don’t know if this is the beginning of more regular blogging or if this is merely a dash between moments! Please stay tuned, and see what happens…

Returning for the 8th year in a row to Santiago, Dominican Republic with a team of 27 folks from our church was nothing short of a HUGE blessing! I am “at home” in the DR; a big part of my heart stays there each time I leave; and I am in utter awe at the goodness of our Lord for and with the Dominican people! His Word is going forth in word and deed in that place~ we proclaim His goodness in going and serving them and they proclaim His goodness in the way they live their lives with the joy of the Lord oozing from their pores! To serve alongside, worship with, and “do life” with those of differing skin tones, different cultural styles, different socio-economic levels is but a glimpse of what Heaven will be…and it blesses me to the very core of my being!

Our day to de-brief and re-group for our return back to the States was spent at the beach. In spite of heavy rain showers, we shopped, snorkeled, sunbathed, and reflected on our week of team building and community sharing. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Tomorrow: Family vacation