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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Suffering Well

The comment came at the end of one of our Monday visits.  We had just had dinner together in the patio outside the nursing home, and the remains of the meal were waiting on a tray to be taken away by a caregiver-----forlorn remnants of  the kind of meal that is meant to serve a crowd, I think it was spaghetti and bread sticks that night, with iceberg lettuce and a small bowl of canned fruit for dessert.    I have found over the long months that there is wisdom in sharing the kind of food he eats there, entering his reality,  tasting what he tastes.   During the first months of the stroke, I often brought food from home, hoping it would be an encouragement.  Instead, I find that my attention is more valuable, and my ability to be grateful for what is set before us. 

"Next time you see Troy" Stu said, "tell him I'm suffering well"


I knew why he said it, and it brought both a smile and a lump in my throat at the same time.

I had to wait two weeks before I saw Troy.  I knew it was a face-to-face kind of message, and I knew I'd see him sooner rather than later.

I saw Troy today at the store where we both shop for supplies.  Troy also is in the food business, and as soon as I caught sight of him coming out of the large walk-in coolers, I blurted out : "Hey, I have a message for you from Stu!   He wanted me to tell you he's suffering well."

Troy's face lit up like a sunrise  "Oh, wow!.......You just made my day!   Wow, that really brings back those conversations we used to have after church......we would just sit side by side and shake our heads at the condition of the world, our own condition, all of it, and we would lament.  And then Stu would say we need to suffer well."

"I know, Troy----he would tell me about it as we drove home.  Those were special times"

"Wow, leave it to Stu........"  I knew what Troy meant-----that poetic way of bringing our thoughts back to the best of what was, and is, and is to come----mixed with a dollop of the Hebrew flair for paradox and mystery.   It's the best of Stu, that poetry.  It's good to see it in action.

Friends, I think Stu would be happy to know that I'm sharing this thought with you, and I hope you will be inspired to join him in, indeed, suffering well.

Until next time


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

"One-Eyed" by Stu Mendelson

Some dreams seem so wonderful, so exactly what you want, that it's hard to believe it's not what God has planned for you.

For me, the prospect of sharing my bakery with my kids, having grandkids living on my property, passing on the legacy-----it all seemed so......providential!

But this summer had a surprise for me.  It turns out that there were some serious miscalculations and oversights on all our parts that made that dream (one we had all been nurturing for two years!)  go up in smoke overnight, as decisive as the wildfires that have raged through our region late this summer.    Ouch!   Talk about a rude awakening. In very short order, I found myself  facing a much different landscape than I had been envisioning.    And while the emotional smoke was still thick, it was hard to see anything very clearly.

I share this with you because as I waited for the smoke to clear, I had some powerful Help.  And you know, it's a help that's available to all who ask for it.  Because of the trials I've already endured, I knew something about facing trials----and this was a big one for me!   I want to remind myself as I share with you what really stood firm while my dream shattered.

True vision from God is such a pride-buster!   Whatever form your pride takes, (and it's a sneaky thing, that pride-----it can fool lots of people, and especially you!)  when it's matched up against God's reality, it can't stand up.  It has to get crushed.  And I have to say something about that crushing process-----you have to let it take its course.   It's extremely painful!  You want so much to escape!  But I've found that holding still and remembering who God is, even though you can't see him through all the smoke and rubble right then, is the absolute best course of action.   I have a stockpile of go-to verses that I KNOW to be true, no matter what!   Psalm 139.....Psalm 23.....the entire book of Philippians, the book of James.  The stockpile grows with each new trial, and God becomes more real to me each time.  And you know what, folks?  He is so much more real and lasting than any particular thing you have your heart set on, no matter how worthy.   We all long to know our purpose in life-----and strangely enough, it's intangible.  It's a deep, trusting, abiding relationship with the One who made us.  Oh, happy day when that becomes evident!

What is next?  You know, I don't rightly know.  But I know the One who does----and for now, that is my daily manna.   Praying for a heart of gratitude in the middle of the unknown.  

Until next time!