Wednesday, March 11, 2009
However, when he turns 100 years old on March 27th, I'm going to write on his card: "....and YOU'RE on your SECOND hundred years, so just relax and enjoy it!"
As a part of "Becoming God's Woman" I have learned to really respect and admire my parents, and am actually enjoying them in their sunset years. I have learned in raising my own children, and now having grandchildren and GREAT grandchildren, that we parents don't always make the right decisions for our offspring; nor do we always set a good example. So I've opted to cut mine some slack.
Seeing my parents reach the ages of 92 and 100, I find that I am enjoying them more as the years fly by; because I KNOW what they went through to GET here. I can respect that they have gone through good years and hard years; fruitful years and lean years; been in good health, and experienced illnesses; have met personal challenges and not always seen all their dreams come true, and dealt with their children lovingly through it all. No matter whether or not they always made the right decisions for us, or protected us from all of life's hurts and disappointments, they meant the best for us, and always tried (within the best of their ability and power) to do the right thing by us.
However, the more I talk with other people, I have come to the conclusion that some of our younger generation do not feel as I do. They criticize and cast blame on their parents for every short coming and disappointment they experience. Now, don't they ever think to themselves: my parents are human, and as such they are going to make mistakes. And, as I've said before, there is no such thing as a "perfect" parent. We don't need to cast stones unless we have walked in our parent's shoes. Have a little respect and be thankful for the good things they did do, and for the things they did that got you as far as you are today. My parents were not "perfect" either, and, as many of you know, I suffered abuse at the hands of my natural Dad. But, I chose a long time ago to forgive them; didn't make any difference if THEY changed or not...I forgave them right where we were. Therefore, today, in my parents sunset years, I am able to be with them, do things for them that they aren't able to do for themselves at this age, and just enjoy the time we have together. And, at the same time, unforgiveness has not been allowed to make me sick...did you KNOW that holding grudges, resentments, and not forgiving can make you physically ill? It most certainly can; it can cut your life short.
So, to sum it all up, treat your parents as you'd like your children to treat YOU in your later years. Don't waste your years and their years by fussing and fuming about things that happened long ago. Put them behind you and get on with the business AND the FUN of life and loving. Because it IS true, the first hundred years are the hardest, and we need to help our loved ones enjoy them. Another bit of advice for you parents: Be nice to your kids...because they may be the ones who pick out your retirement location or take care of you. And remember, all of you, it's true what they say: "What goes around, comes around." The world would be a better place if we all just forgave and loved each other for the very human beings that we are...NOT perfect.
Dad: A VERY HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY TO YOU, and thanks for treating me every bit like your daughter.
Note: Mom and "Dad" met 8 years ago when my husband and I were going together. We introduced them because we thought Dad would be a good influence on my mother. He had his own pickup truck, cell phone, and computer, and was a real go-getter. They met on his 92nd birthday when she was 83, and he proposed 4 months later on HER birthday. We were planning our wedding for in the fall, and for a time we thought we might have a double wedding. But, being the age they were, they didn't want to waste any time, so they beat us to the alter by just one month and married October 6th of 2001. So...you might say that Dad said "I do" at 92. They have had 8 years together now, and both of them help each other so much. We are very glad that they have found each other and happiness.
Friday, March 6, 2009
You might wonder right now, what has this got to do with "Becoming God's Woman"? So, I'll tell you. When our children have left our homes, or in some way disappointed us or neglected us, our faithful little pets are always there for us. In my quest to "become God's woman" (the best that I can be), I have discovered that the comfort of pets is like a "warm fuzzy" in the depths of loneliness or depression. They can lift you up when humans just don't cut it. Did you know that they have discovered that just petting your furry friend can lower your blood pressure? It's a fact...and I use it quite frequently:-} They also have an uncanny sense of when you're not feeling well; I have one cat who won't leave my side when I'm under the weather. So why shouldn't we dote on them, feed them, love them and protect them? After all, it's showing compassion for the little creatures that God made for us. When you reach out to one of them, you become a better person. Later I will post more pictures of our "babies" (1 large dog & 4 cats) all of whom we rescued; now they are rescuing US.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This will just be a short blog today, as I stop to reflect on what I am feeling today. Our grandson is just finishing up his 2nd tour of duty in Iraq, and due to arrive home in a few days. Oh, how I wish I could be at his homecoming ceremony, but have opted to give he and his new bride some much needed R&R before company shows up. They got married about a year ago on one of his leaves, and we have had the joy of meeting her when they came up to visit last year. Right now we're sitting on pins and needles waiting for word that he has gotten out of Iraq and debriefing in Kuwait. We will be so thankful to have him back home, and can't help feel for those who's sons and grandsons won't be coming home. Our hearts go out to them and we wish them God's healing touch.
I am really looking forward to April 1st, as they have invited me to come for a visit. It will be a grandma's dream come true, and I will finally be able to see my grandson again, and meet his bride's family. More on his arrival when we hear.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
What Lent means to me (written by one of our Moms on Cafe Mom...but very appropriate for the season)
By definition, the season of Lent is the time of preparation for Holy Week, leading up to Easter. For many, it is a time to give up something like candy or smoking. It may be a time for more frequent Mass attendance for others. The following is a brief reflection leading up to what may be a better view of Lent for some.
Lent owes much of its spirit to the forty days Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his ministry. We say he was tempted there, but a more accurate translation may be "tested." The Jewish view of the desert was an abode of demons, especially that part of the desert where winds would howl around tall, rough stone. It must have been terrifying at night: dark, looming shapes, unearthly wailing of wind, and nothing else. In this place, Jesus was offered the opportunity to be the wrong kind of messiah. He rejected each possibility.
When the Hebrews were led from Egypt to the Promised Land, they refused to go in because they did not trust God's promise. God led them into the desert for forty years, until they learned the trust they lacked. During this time, all the ones that had refused to cross the Jordan died. In this way, God's people were purified.
In Noah's day, forty days of flooding washed away the evil that had infected the world. This was not a permanent solution, just as Lent is not, unless we make it so.
In the Church, we often speak of entering Seasons as though they were countries or Ages of Man. For the Easter Season, we "wipe our feet," in a sense, before entering. But even this does not fully describe the spirit of Lent.
When Jesus entered the desert, he left behind all the expectations of others, all the hopes, all the illusions. It was just Jesus and the Father, in the Holy Spirit. But in solitude, demons come. No role is more dangerous than the reformer. There were at least three wrong ways to be the Messiah, and Jesus rejected them all. The defeat of Satan during this testing hinted at the final defeat of evil through the Cross and Resurrection.
We are people of illusions. We think we understand God, we think we know ourselves and those around us. We plan our lives and are shocked when these plans fall through. We impose our wills on God or even say we know His plans. Jesus did not have such illusions, but we have illusions about Jesus. In the desert, Jesus had no illusions of his own to face and destroy: he was tested for our sake, so we would know who he was not. He did not come to bribe us with earthly bread, or astonish us with feats of invulnerability. He did not seek world domination or command an army. He simply did the will of the Father.
In Lent, we abstain from meat on Fridays, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Many people perform acts of penance or mortification, such as giving up sweets, TV and the like. What is the connection to the desert?
The desert experience is about deprivation. Most of the world experiences it involuntarily. For many people, however, deprivation is a great evil, and to be avoided at all costs. In deprivation, we discover that we are not all-powerful. We are slaves to our bellies, to the opinions of others, to pleasure. We cannot bear pain, so we take a pill. We cannot bear growing old, so we dye our hair. Like Darth Vader in Star Wars, we replace our humanity with technology until there is little of our selves left. Doing without can strip away some of the illusions and give us a glimpse of truth.
During Lent, we have the opportunity to hear voices that are usually lost in the din of pleasure and meaningless talk. We can enter into a private desert even in the midst of the world and face our own demons. We can tear down false idols only to be heartbroken at finding others behind them. If we are brave, we can run through this desert trying to find the real God amid the gods.
Thomas Merton writes about a kind of "dread." It is the nagging sense that we have missed something important or that we have somehow been untrue to ourselves. It may feel like a crisis of faith, as though we doubted God. In reality, we doubt the false images of God that we ourselves have created. We doubt the bold pronouncements we make about our independence or open-mindedness. This "dread" is heightened by the fact that the God beyond our imaginings is so close to us, although we know Him not. Thoughts cross our minds about this, but we push them away. Perhaps as you read this you are thinking, "I'm not that clueless. I have faith. I know God personally." Think again.
During Lent, we use abstinence from meat and acts of penance as metaphors. In a very small way, they model the rejection of illusions about what we need, who we are, and who God is. In this life, we try to make some progress in discarding our "disordered attachments." At death, we will no longer have a choice. We cannot enter Heaven burdened with a thousand foolish attachments. As our bodies lie rotting, there will be no more illusions about the worth of attractiveness. As others claim our possessions, they will finally have their proper value to us. When we stand in judgment before God, we will have no illusions about our sanctity or goodness. All will be laid bare, and there will be no more hypocrisy, lies, or illusions. It is far better to begin discarding our foolish attachments in this life, and Lent is a good time to begin this work. The best time to start, however, is always now.
To end this reflection with Hope, we must remember that through all of this, God is with us. He may not offer comfort now, but He promises no trial beyond our ability to succeed. He offers us no truth we cannot accept if we become as children. When Jesus had finally driven off the devil, angels came to wait on him. When, through Jesus, we have rejected illusion and self-deception, we can be sure of continued graces from God. These are not the rewards of virtue but those gifts which are available only to real people.
Thank you for your wonderful insiprational post peacelily3. Its time to shine my armor and refine my way to the lord. I hope everyone has a meaningful lent this year.