My Story

My God is full of wonder, and each day I am learning more about Him
and the amazing plans He has laid out for the adventure that is my life.

This is my story.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Man Behind Me

In the late summer of 2008, when I was living in Northern California, I heard that my church was in need of people to make weekly visits to some elderly people who used to be a part of the congregation, but who could no longer attend due to illness, infirmity, or just old age. I had enjoyed visiting nursing homes during high school and had been praying about how I could get more involved with my church, so I called to volunteer.

I was paired with an elderly lady named Thelma, who lived in a nursing home in town. She had gone blind and had requested someone to come read the Bible to her on a weekly basis. The first time I visited, the leader of the ministry accompanied me. She warned me that Thelma could be rather abrasive and cranky. She introduced us and then sat with us as I read. I felt like I was interviewing for a position.

Apparently, I would do, and Thelma and I fixed upon a time and day that would work for both of us. I came every week to read the Bible to her until just before Christmas. As we got to know each other, she began to talk more and ask me questions about my life. I learned she had buried three husbands. She talked about their differences and their accomplishments. It became almost a ritual for her to then ask me if I were married. Each time I told her no, and she would respond with "why?" and that I really should. I agreed with her, but said I wasn't willing to marry just anyone, and she said that that was good.

She had three children still living, but they were all far away. She lived for them to call her on her phone, which she kept always close to her bed. Sometimes she would have me check it to make sure it still worked. One evening, one of her daughters did call when I was reading to her and saw Thelma transform from a cranky old lady to an ecstatic woman full of life and vitality.

But as the winter progressed, Thelma's faculties did seem to decline. Her lucidity ebbed and flowed. The last night I visited her, she seemed only slightly aware of my presence. I started reading her favorite Psalm, when she stopped me midway through.

"Who is that man behind you?" she said.

I was startled. As far as I knew, we were in a room all by ourselves with the door closed. I quickly turned around, but there was no one there. I told her so, but she insisted there was a man standing behind me. Suddenly, I wasn't frightened anymore. A peace spread through me.

"Maybe it's an angel." I said.

"I think you're right." Thelma said.

That was the last night I saw her. I went to visit my family a few days afterwords for Christmas, and while at home, I got the call that Thelma had died. She had died the night we usually met to read the Bible. At first, I was worried that the change in her schedule at such a tenuous time in her condition might have had something to do with it, and then I remembered our last conversation.

I think she did see an angel that night, or perhaps even He who commands them all. She was ready to go. She had lived a full and fascinating life. He had come to take her home.

Death is always sad, no matter the circumstances and no matter the age. But I have hope in the Man behind me, who does not forget about cranky old ladies in nursing homes or unmarried nobodies like me. Every day He gives me little stories like this one to remind me that He is there, that He cares about even the smallest things in each of our lives, and that our stories never end.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Short Little Update on a Certain Aspect of my Life

His eyes are green and gold and I met him on St. Patrick's Day while dancing to fiddles and stringed instruments. What more could an Irish girl want?! Well, someone who loves Jesus and flows naturally through conversations on his testimony, how much he likes C. S. Lewis and storytelling, and his insatiable love of puns.

His name is Ryan and after four of the best dates I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying, we became an official couple. Before him, I did not quite believe that a true kindred spirit really could be found in the male persuasion. I'm very happy to be mistaken. (My hopeless-romantic, Victorian heart is thrilled.)

A relationship such as this is rather personal, so I don't really want to share any more than that. However, his name might pop up here and there in future posts, so I needed to explain just who this Ryan is!

Oh, I also just want to say - I really really like him... a lot. :) 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Items of Memory for Sale

This morning I was reminded of a small moment that happened in front of me a few years ago. It happened when I was living in Northern California, one of my most favorite places in the world, full of used book shops and nature trails and people who cherish the past.

It was a Saturday morning, off season, so I was free to do what I wanted with it. I did what I never tired of doing. I got up slightly early (for a Saturday) and drove to town. I spent several hours reading while sipping an orgeate latte in my favorite coffee shop, the one with the large mural of Venice with the unrealistic duck. And then I walked over to the best vintage shop I've ever encountered.

 It was run by a middling woman who wore her hair in a fashion about twenty years before her time (obviously a kindred spirit and lover of the past). She did not keep her shop well organized. The shop was such a small space that organization would have only made her insane, as she had a marvelous amount of old things piled up in almost every space. This was her shop's best charm. To find anything in her shop, you had to go on a treasure hunt for it. It would take one hours to hunt through everything. But that just made me excited for the next excursion.

On this specific Saturday morning, as I was happily wading through lace scarves and velvet hats, an elderly lady walked into the shop with a bag of items clutched to her chest. She walked directly up to the shop keeper and asked in a small voice if she were interested in buying some of her old things. The lady then began to pull each item out of her bag and explain what it was. Each piece she pulled out had a story attached to it, often irrelevant to fixing upon a price.

My hands had stopped their search, but I dared not turn around. This small lady had walked in to sell some of her most precious possessions, full of cherished memories from her past. As she continued to talk about her items for sale, she began to cry. It was barely audible. Like everything about her, it was quiet; unobtrusive.

The shop lady asked her why she was wanting sell her things. The elderly lady responded that her son was admitting her to a nursing home and that there was not room for many personal items. A few moments more and the shop keeper had fixed upon a price for the lady's possessions. With the transaction complete, the elderly lady quietly left the shop, taking a lace hanky from her purse.

My throat was dry and the muscles in my knees were suddenly making their vehemence known for being kept in the same position for so long. My eyes connected with the shop keeper's and she sighed, saying that that was the part of her job she disliked the most.

I didn't buy anything that day. I couldn't. I have continued to enjoy the purchasing and owning of vintage items. But it was that day that I realized what I had never really thought of before. Any vintage item being sold in a shop used to be owned by someone else, and chances are, they did not want to part with it. They might have died and a family member did not see the need of it. They might have needed the money for something more practical and of greater need. Or they might have been an elderly lady, no longer allowed to be the manager of her own life, forced to give away her memories in order to move into the place of her future death; a place with little room for many personal items.

I do not know what brought this story to mind this morning, and I apologize if I have dampened this Saturday for you. That was not my intent. But for some reason, that little lady with her items of memory for sale, came into my mind and I realized I had never told her story. Well, her story, at least this little part of it, deserves telling. She is not forgotten.