Dear God, I Am…

Grateful for God’s calming presence in the midst of a storm


In all of my years of haircutting, I have never been more appreciative of God’s presence than I was on January 2, 2015.

We reopened, feeling refreshed after enjoying two days off to celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, to a standing-room-only crowd. I just knew we had cut everyone the week before Christmas and that this would be a slow, but steady day. I was wrong. By two that afternoon my back was screaming, “Sit down, please!” No chance of that as the mass of patrons kept coming.

God has always blessed my barber shop with loyal families who say that they would go nowhere else. This type of loyalty speaks volumes, pertaining to the level of friendly, competent service our clients feel we provide. We know most of our clients on a first-name basis, and this makes our work day feel less like work and more like a family reunion. As barber shops go, there are always funny stories being shared, and an overabundance of handshakes and hugs, and sometimes tears when we pause to pay our heartfelt condolences on behalf of a client’s family member who has passed into the more immediate presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The loss of pets are also heavily grieved, because they are God’s creations, too. It’s what our little community barber shop is all about: Sharing and Caring.

But on January 2, at approximately 3:00pm, time stopped, and so did the buzzing of our clippers.

I am comfortable cutting children’s hair, any size, any age. Experience brings confidence in handling little ones, especially when they grow impatient, using their body language to let you know that they are ready to be finished. It’s not uncommon for a child to suddenly start twitching—legs moving, shoulders scrunching up and down, head bobbing, etc., so when my little six-year-old buddy started his twitching, I calmly reminded him that I was “almost finished,” and to “hang on.”

Little did I know, or realize, that he was not having typical child wiggles.

My little buddy, Trent, was having a seizure!

At first I thought he had fallen asleep when he began to slide to the left side of my barber chair, which is not uncommon; I have had children fall asleep many times during a haircut. I caught him and repositioned him back to the center. When I did, his little head fell back and I was able to catch his head with my hands. Then, he began to slowly slide from the chair, head still cupped in my hands. This is when I yelled to his dad that I needed help. Now, Trent’s daddy is a big man, tall and very capable of handling his six-year-old son, but the terror of Trent’s situation showed evident in his dad’s face when Trent’s seizure began. I pulled the hair cape from Trent and, with his dad’s help, we laid him on his side on the floor away from the pile of his fallen hair. I am still cupping Trent’s head in my hands. Towels were placed under Trent’s head and 911 was called. With Trent’s dad and I kneeling at his side, we relayed Trent’s status back to another employee, speaking to the 911 operator. Trent was sweating. His pulse was weak. His breathing was shallow. We were scared. I rubbed a cool towel over Trent’s face in hopes that it might help. When Trent tried to get up we moved him to a more comfortable wicker love seat. I sat with Trent, held his hand, as his dad and another employee greeted  EMS. Trent stared into nothingness.

Quickly, EMS evaluated Trent’s condition. They took his temperature; we were relieved when it showed a normal 98.6. His blood pressure was a little low and they immediately transported him to the hospital. Later that evening I received a text that Trent was fine and he would see a specialist, later. I was relieved for Trent and also for his family.

To my surprise, Trent, his daddy, and his sister came back to see us the next day! I grabbed him up and hugged him tight. “Trent! I’m so happy to see you,” I said. “Are you back for the rest of your haircut?” We laughed when his daddy handed us a box of Dunkin Doughnut holes.

“Thank you,” he said. “I’m glad we were here when Trent had his seizure. You guys are like family. I was scared,” he said.

“I know you were,” I said. “We were, too.”

Even though we may not understand why things, like Trent’s seizure, happen, we can always rely on God’s presence to bring us through the storm. I have thought a lot about Trent’s situation and how my staff worked together to remain calm and focused. And, I have thought about Trent’s daddy. What if he were driving, unaware of Trent’s sudden seizure? That scenario is too frightening to imagine.

We don’t always know and understand why things happen the way they do, but we can rest assured that God does, and he will be there to calm us and bring us through all of life’s storms.

Dear God,

Thank you for providing help and comfort to Trent and his daddy on what could have been a very different outcome. 

Thank you for allowing my small community barber shop to be a safe haven, providing compassion and strength to a father who was afraid for his son.

Thank you for being the calm in our storm.

Amen

 

Shamed and Feeling Guilty


IMG_0592

Mom, August 2014, on our most recent Mother/Daughter trip

I never thought of Mom as “elderly,” until now.

Recently, reality sucker-punched me hard in the form of sheer terror and helplessness.

Mom and I are two peas in one pod, so to speak. We are best friends.

Every year we take a mother and daughter trip. Mostly we shop and giggle at the silliest things, just like little girls. Once, at Walmart, we each bought a massive amount of Charmin. It was on sale, plus we had coupons.

Looking back, I guess we did go a little overboard.

 Anyway, while we waited in the checkout line, I started laughing. When Mom ask what was funny, I said, “Look at what we’re buying.” She never missed a beat, looked in her cart, and said, “If anybody asks, let’s tell them we’re having a prune eating contest.”

We looked at each other and laughed, hysterically, without a care in the world.

To this day, that memory still makes me smile.

 When we travel now, I look for destinations that afford the easiest access for Mom. I seek lodging with handicap assessable features, and I always let Mom out at the front door before I park. I hold her hand when we walk, and I embrace her arm when she steps onto the sidewalk. I am vigilant when it comes to her health and her safety, a mother overseeing her child.

But recently, I became careless and failed her.

Mom and I have ridden the mall escalator many times. No problem.

She always wants me to “go first,” insisting that she’s right behind me.

I never question her, because she’s Mom.

 I go first, as instructed.

But on a recent shopping trip, everything changed.

I got on the escalator and was several steps above her. When I looked back to check on Mom,  she stood watching the steps. She took her time, waited for the right moment to step on.

Finally, she made her move.

 I panicked.

Time stopped.

Everything that happened next happened literally in s-l-o-w motion.

I watched as Mom stepped on too soon. Her feet straddled two flat steps; she stood on the crack between the two steps.

As the steps rose to form another step, her feet were three-fourths on one step while the remaining quarter hung off the back.

I watched as she inched her feet backward. Had she just stepped forward a little more, her feet would have been firmly placed on a whole  step.

She became confused.

I saw it on her face, trying to figure out what to do.

We are now over halfway up the escalator.

Then it happened.

I screamed, “Mom!”

And ran down the moving steps.

She inched her way off the step, dropped to the step below, and fell backward.

I heard her head hit.

I screamed, again.

Somewhere in the distance, I heard someone yell,”Shut down the escalator!”

When I reached her, I fell to my knees, escalator still moving, and

cupped her head in my hands.

Lightening fear ran through me, but I managed to remain calm.

The escalator jerked and stopped, and three angels stood around us:

One man and two women.

The man lifted Mom upright as the two women stood on each side of her.

I walked behind them, and together, we walked Mom to the top.

The department store manager and another store employee sat Mom in a chair.

I looked for the man and the two women who came to our rescue, but they were nowhere to be found.

I never saw them again.

EMS arrived and thought it best to transport Mom to the ER, where she could be better evaluated.

I agreed.

During our time in the ER, Mom complained because our shopping trip had been interrupted.

I assured her we would schedule another shopping day.

Miraculously, her CT scan showed no sign of head trauma.

I’m still in awe that the only “real” injury Mom received was a scrape to her ankle and a small cut on her elbow. Her head never bled, but only revealed a large red goose egg.

She received a tetanus shot and instructions on what to do should headaches, blurred vision, etc. occur.

She was released, and we left.

Never have I felt so helpless.

Never have I felt so heartbroken.

Never have I felt so ashamed.

Never have I felt so GUILTY!

The guilt that haunted me later that evening, and even now, still burns red hot inside.

What if Mom’s fall killed her?

It was possible.

I heard her head hit, after all!

What if she broke her back?

It was possible.

Instead, Mom received only a “bump” on her head, as she calls it.

Since this horrible accident, I vow that she will never again ride another escalator.

From now on we are taking the elevator, together. Side by side.

I am so grateful and blessed beyond any words that I can pen to paper for the help of the three strangers, and for God’s grace.

I think about the three who rescued and aided my mom.

I wish I knew who they are, where they are.

I may never know, but God certainly does.

*******

Dear God:

My mother is alive and well.

Thank you for your grace, during my time of distress.

Thank you for keeping me calm in what could have been my darkest hour. 

I look at my mother and see her in a whole new light.

I will cherish, even now more than ever, our time together.

Forgive me for not being more attentive to her and to her needs.

Forgive my complacency, my assumption that she is the strong person that she was just a few short years ago.

Lead me whenever I lead her.

But, mostly, forgive me for allowing her pain and suffering.

Forgive me because I am unable to forgive myself.

Amen

Appreciating My Dash


252c57dd8fe89203864c986d4cc55882

Shortly before my dad passed away, he said, “I never thought I’d be like this.” I watched as he struggled to breathe, even though oxygen aided him. With his zest for life used up like a holiday candle, and his wick of life all but gone, God continued to bless him. Not many men that work in a coal mine for over forty-years live well into their eighties. Dad was three month’s shy of his eighty-sixth birthday when he passed. In the days, and now years that follow, I’m still grateful for his life—the years on both sides of his dash. I pray that God bestows this same grace and longevity upon me.

At fifty-one-years-old, I feel blessed, being a half-century into my dash. Although I don’t like the signs of aging: joint pain, morning stiffness, gray hair, menopause, wrinkles, less-than-perfect eyesight, etc., they illustrate a rite of passage that leads me to the next stepping stone in life. Most folks know the idiom, “If I knew then what I knew now,”  what? You fill in the rest. For me, if I knew then what I knew now, would I have chosen a different path? Would I have made different decisions? Perhaps. But, I cannot go back. I can only go forward. So, with that said, I will strive and be the person that God wants.  My principles are solid. I have excellent mentors, namely my parents, who taught by example. Of course, none of us is perfect. But I can try, anyway. I will be kind to others when they are not kind to me. I will forgive when I do not want to. And, I will ask for forgiveness before it is too late. One of my favorite poems is The Dash by Linda Ellis. (www.linda-ellis.com/the-dash-the-dash-poem-by-linda-ellis-.html) Thousands use her beloved poem to eulogize friends and family. I admire others’ gift of words, which causes me to ponder upon their meaning. Whenever I read The Dash, clarity emerges; not only from thinking about my dad’s life, but also my life. It encourages me to consider my life’s choices. All in all, I feel good about my life’s journey. God has been good to me and to my family, and I am truly blessed.

Dear God,

You promise never to forsake.

Even though you are always there, situations arise that cause fear and doubt.  

Thank you for guiding, leading, loving and forgiving me in my life’s beginning and in my life’s end;

and, especially, during the time in between. 

Amen

Celebrating Home With A Yellow Ribbon And A Mason Jar


Image

Most folks regard “the short rows” as a task nearing completion.

Now that Mom seems content and happy in her new home, we celebrate “the short rows” with exhausted enthusiasm.

The daunting three month preparation of seeking her new home,

planning her move (what to take, what not to take), and

organizing and working her massive yard sale,

now affords us a rest, momentarily—the sale of her home lies in wait.

After the last yard sale patron drove away, I walked through the house.

Only the dust bunnies remain, but they will be gone soon enough.

My footfalls echoed throughout the empty shell, making me feel like an intruder on foreign ground.

This afternoon, while mulling over all the hard work, and the seemingly endless packing and unpacking of boxes that overwhelmed me a few weeks ago, relief enveloped me when I remembered something Mom said a few days ago.

 She said,

“I’m ready to go home.”

At that moment I realized she no longer acknowledged her and daddy’s home as her home. I said nothing, but allowed myself time to reflect on her words.

Today, while on my way to visit Mom, one of her canning jars from years ago, a reject from the yard sale, rolled around in my back seat.

 I stopped and bought Mom a colorful spring bouquet and a roll of coordinating yellow ribbon.

When I walked into her house, she said,

“What are you doing with those flowers?”

To which I proudly proclaimed,

“I’m celebrating, and I thought they’d be pretty on your table.”

“Celebrating what?” she asked.

“Celebrating  home,” I said, and then I filled the jar with water, arranged the flowers, attached the ribbon, and took a picture.

*****

Dear God:

Today I celebrate home.

Thank you for showing me that a home means more than possessions.

Yes, memories are made there, but without a family to make the memories, a house is just an empty shell, a void to be filled.

Thank you, dear God, for my family, and especially for my mother. May she be blessed with happiness and good health, and may she enjoy her new home as much as I enjoy going home to see her.

Without the gift of your grace, I know that I would not have the blessed life that I enjoy.

I am truly humble and grateful.

Thank you.

Amen

Confessing


forgive

Through my years of barbering, I’ve heard many confessions. I’ve commented and offered advice on some, while others, well, let me say that I could “write a book” and leave it at that.

Regardless of how trivial a confession seems, confessions are difficult, nonetheless.

For most, myself included, saying “I’m sorry” is difficult, but it can also be rewarding.

The other day I said something that I later regretted.

It was one of those occasions where you speak first and think later.

I guess we’ve all done that, right?

Jesus knows our burdens, and he knows how easy it is for us to stick our foot in our mouth, too.

I’m so thankful that I did not let my pride hold me back from doing the right thing –  confessing and apologizing.

The bible states:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

 (Proverbs 16:18)

I’m so thankful that I surrendered my pride, and I don’t ever want to fall because of a haughty spirit.

How about you?

****

Dear God:

Thank you for allowing me to feel the effects of  a guilty conscious.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to right a wrong, and to say, “I’m sorry.” 

But above all, thank you for allowing me to be loved and forgiven.

I am truly blessed.

Amen

Counting Socks


A friend told me to “find humor” in my mom’s move.

I am happy to report that I found it, counting socks.

black-socks-635

At least once a week Mom and I take things to her new home, unpack it, and reorganize it. It’s not only a physical workout, especially for me, but it’s also an adventure that we both seem to enjoy. The “adventure,” which I will lovingly call it, is sometimes found inside of a plastic garbage bag. On the other hand it is really more like a treasure hunt, rather than an adventure. Mom doesn’t use the packing boxes that I have provided; instead, she prefers garbage bags. Now while this is fine (I try not to sweat the small stuff, Lord knows there are plenty of other things that I’m sweating over these days) it does create questions when I start unpacking. Such as, “Where does this go, Mom,” or “What is in this, Mom?” to which she giggles and replies, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember. Just tear it open and dump it out,” so I do.

Recently on one of our  “adventurous treasure hunts,” I dumped out at least 30 pairs of socks. I’m not kidding!

We were in her bedroom. Mom was leaning against the door frame; I was on the floor on my knees. When I tore open one of the mystery bags, a bounty of colorful socks fell to the floor. They piled up, like manna from heaven, around me.

Mom said, “Oh, yeah, I forgot, that one has my socks in it.”

I looked up and said,

“Really, Mom, do you really need all of these? You can’t possibly wear or need all of these.”

“But I do,” she confirmed.

And then she pointed to a faded gray pair that stood out from the rest; different, yet familiar.

“Those were your daddy’s socks,” she said, matter-of-fact, “and I’m keeping them.”

I nodded and, without saying a word, gathered them in my arms and placed them in a very large, deep drawer.

You see, it was during this moment, this seemingly monotonous act, that I began to realize that it’s not my dad’s socks that Mom holds on to, but her memory of him wearing them.

As bitter sweet and as excruciatingly painful as our memories may be, when speaking of departed loved ones, sometimes they comfort. The memory of my dad wearing these socks comforts my mother. I saw that today.

 Memories are like socks, aren’t they? They add up quickly. Some we want to keep, and others we want to throw out.

Mom and I make memories each time we’re together. Today we made a new memory, while  remembering another. Today we counted socks, together. When tomorrow comes I want to remember the memory, but mostly l want to look back and remember my relationship with my beloved mother, my best friend.

******

Dear God:

When so many have a soiled relationship with their mother, I am grateful that the relationship I have with my mother is one others envy.

I am grateful for the laughter we’ve shared.

I am grateful for the tears we’ve shared.

I am grateful for the memories we’ve shared.

And, I am grateful for the memory we made . . . counting socks.

Amen

Celebrating Life


Image

(Photo Credit: Laura Davis-Mullenix)

When my cousin Laura posted these flowers on social media she said, “I picked these from my yard yesterday. Thought I would post this to encourage everyone that “SPRING” still does exist. I’m glad I picked them as they would be gone now.”

While these daffodils are beautiful, it’s the vase that catches my attention.

You see, when I first glimpsed Laura’s post, I immediately thought of the three-in-one. You know, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Being the writer that I like to think that I am, my creativity rolled into overdrive with how I could expand her photo and message through my blog.

So, after musing over Laura’s caption and photo, a metaphor evolved through her words: “picked, encourage, exist, and gone.”

Still confused?

Bear with me . . .

~~~~

Spring is wonderful, is it not?

It’s the time of year when all of God’s creation comes alive.The dreary darkness of winter fades into warm sunny days and clear blue skies. Even our mood toward each other and for each other metamorphoses into something beautiful, heaven sent.

For Christians, Easter evokes intense mourning coupled with triumphant victory, especially when referring to the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Certainly life in general is a joyous time for each of us, right?

But, have you ever thought about the one and only celebration of life that out shines and out lasts anything imaginable by man?

And, have you ever thought about the gift that was freely given by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the gift of eternal life?

Jesus’ excruciatingly painful death on the cross was for us, you and me, and it can never be repaid or topped, or even redone.

 Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ existed in the flesh, as we do, suffered and died, as we will, and was separated from his father, as we, too, will be separated if we do not choose life.

Laura shared her beautiful flowers the same way our Heavenly Father shared his son Jesus. Laura saved the daffodils before they died. When we choose to follow Jesus, we can live a life as beautiful as Laura’s daffodils with one exception: When we die, we will rise again. The bible says that we will be caught up in the air to meet Jesus, isn’t that exciting! She said that had she not chosen them, they would surely die, or “be gone.” Likewise, had God the Father not chosen his son as our redeemer, we would die and “be gone,” too.

I am so very grateful, aren’t you, that our Heavenly Father “picked” us, saw us worthy to celebrate life – eternal life with him.

I look forward to the celebration, don’t you?

~~~

Dear God:

I have no words this Easter to express my sorrow for the way you had to die, and for me.

I have no words this Easter to express the sheer joy I feel, knowing that you conquered death; the tomb could not hold you captive.

I have no words this Easter, except to say,

I am and will forever be your unworthy, but grateful servant.

Amen

%d bloggers like this: