Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Glasses, who needs glasses?

I remember going to the eye doctor at age 42. Then 43. Then 44. Each year I got the same message. “Once again, you have cheated reading glasses.”

I was smug. Oh yeah. Look at me. I don’t need reading glasses. Somehow I decided that still made me young. If my eyes are still young, the rest of me must be as well.

Then I turned 46. The first few months were good. Then it happened. I was reading and the letters no longer formed words, at least not from my vantage point. What happened? How had it happened? I believe the why was evident. I was getting old.

What was interesting is it wasn’t every day that my reading eyes failed me. As a matter of fact, I have my Bible opened next to me and I can see every word of Isaiah chapter 51 from a foot away, and no, it’s not large text. It’s itty-bitty tiny Bible print. But these days are now far and few between. It’s more often than not that my reading eyes refuse to cooperate.

When I first noticed my issue, I balked. I kicked. (Well, inwardly at least). I started wearing my glasses on a daily basis instead of my contacts, at least when I was home, as I could easily pull them off so I could read. For some reason, I can read just fine when my eyes are naked.

Vanity was at a full-scale war with necessity. Necessity won. I made my first trip to the dollar store to purchase my first pair of reading glasses. Now I’d done it. I’d gone and got old. I tried them on, peering into the mirror in the car while my husband’s cheeky grin almost got him a busted lip. “Don’t even start,” I warned him.

I deposited the glasses, case and all in the glove compartment of the car and conveniently forgot about them.

Fast forward a few months and I’m speaking for a group of ladies, attempting to read my Bible. Uh oh! Darn, why aren’t those glasses in my purse? Good thing I basically have the verses memorized. Whew!

One month later, it is now the exception (like today) that I can see to read without the glasses. On Sunday morning, I pulled them out of my purse, reluctantly, to see to read along with our Pastor. True, I could have read along on the big screen, but there is something about reading those verses straight from the book in your hands. I put them on and my husband leaned over and whispered. “Hey sexy.”

I grinned. I sat a little straighter as I perfected the technique of looking down through the glasses to read and looking above the rim to see what is happening around me. Something had changed. Instead of feeling old, I felt wise, like I had arrived. Yeah, I’m all that. The only thing that hadn’t changed was the fact I’m still dealing with my vanity! Ugh!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Only God

One year ago this month, as in May of 2012, we moved to Oklahoma City. It wasn’t long before we called this place home.

After living in Wisconsin for most of my adult life, I couldn’t imagine red dirt, hot summers and bugs becoming commonplace in my life. I am acclimated to the red dirt, not so much the heat and bugs but I’m managing.

The warmth that radiates from those you meet, those who are quick to call you family and lend a hand in hard times, more than compensates for the creepy crawly things and the intense sweltering heat that makes me consider shaving all my hair off.

Oklahoma is a place that makes you want to hang your winter hat and store your heavy coat in cedar and replace them with cowboy hats and boots. At least in theory.

So, for a transplanted northern girl who has learned to call this state home, my heart broke in two on Monday, May 20 when I watched a two mile wide twister destroy the homes and hearts of those I have come to love. It is true that I have never had the privilege of chatting with or drinking coffee with those who lost their homes, personal belongings, pets and loved ones, nonetheless, because I have come to intimately know the heart of this state, and her people, I feel like part of my own heart was ripped from my chest and hung out to dry.

My son clung to me, knowing that the tornado was terrorizing our part of town. Fear traced its way down his cheeks as he watched in horror as the television screen implanted images into his mind that stole his innocence. I cried as I prayed for every mother that sent her baby off to school that morning. I could only sympathize, as I could not imagine that kind of pain. Knowing the possibility that there would be many childless mothers by sun set, I clutched my stomach and sobbed for them, for the complete sense of loss that they would come to realize.

We prayed. We prayed hard. We watched as God answered many of our prayers. One school dismantled, piles of bricks and mortar, no longer recognizable, and yet every child accounted for and alive. Only God. Praise God. Toddlers huddled together with their teacher as the roof was ripped from overhead, and by evening every child was back safely in their parents arms. Only God. The death toll rang 37 then 51 then 90. By morning, it was revised to 24. Again, only God.

We watched as hope lined the streets, bringing water, blankets, supplies and cash. We watched volunteers dig all night through their exhaustion extending hands to over one hundred survivors. Only God.

The following morning we prayed once again. Lord, please hold off the coming storm. It changed course and headed farther east before releasing its fury. Only God. My son grinned from ear to ear when he heard that God has answered his prayer. His faith is a bit stronger this day, knowing that God is listening.

Only God can take horrible and turn it into hope. Only God can make a way when there is none. Only God can bring healing when the pain threatens to rob you of your very breath. Only God sees your devastation and weeps with you.

Every day we watch, praying for miracles, praying for another life to be spared. Then, when all is said and done, when our tears have dried and our minds and hearts are numb, only God can save us. As it should be. Only God.

Please pray for healing for this land. If you wish to donate, there are many places, including the church where I attend, that are taking donations. Please contact The Gathering at hope@thegathering.tv for more information on how you can take part in bringing relief to a devastated people.
Darlene Shortridge