Beautifully Broken

My husband Gary and I are nearing our 38th wedding anniversary.  For our 30th, we enjoyed an Alaskan cruise.  This was a wonderful cruise, beginning with a week on terra firma touring the beautiful Alaskan National Parks, including Denali.  The end of that week landed us in Whittier, where we boarded the beautiful floating vessel that carried us through the spectacular glaciers, as well as many wonderful ports of call.

This trip was particularly special to me, because we were celebrating a milestone anniversary.  On the cruise, I had the opportunity to attend a class where we learned to make a ceramic picture frame.  The process took several days, as the frame needed to be painted, and put in a kiln.  I was very happy with my handiwork, and in it, I placed a picture of my husband and me on our balcony in glacier bay.  How I love to look at that picture, and how I love remembering that trip, and the love I put into creating the frame that would hold the memory that was so dear to me.

The frame and picture had a place of honor in our living room, where I enjoyed looking at it every day, until the day it was accidentally knocked over, and broke into three pieces.  “Don’t worry!” I said to myself, “You can glue it together!”  And I did.  Carefully and lovingly, I glued the pieces of the frame together.  I held the broken pieces in my hands for several minutes as the glue dried.  When I was sure the frame was ready, I placed the picture back in it, and returned it to it’s place in the living room.

Not a month went by before my beloved frame was once again knocked over, and lay on the floor in several pieces.  This time, all the breaks were new, the glue held the old breaks together.  I was pretty impressed with the integrity of the glue, and knew that I could glue the frame together a second time.  Again, I held each of the broken pieces in my hands tightly as the glue dried, lovingly putting the little frame back together and back to it’s place in the living room.

You guessed it, I came home from an outing to find my frame on the ground, broken – in all new places – a third time.  They say “third time’s a charm”, so I got my trusty glue and once again glued the frame together.  While admiring my frame, and all the scars, uneven seams, and glued cracks,  it hit me.  That frame is me!

Life has a way of knocking us down sometimes.  Maybe it’s because we lost our job, or didn’t get the job we want. Maybe it’s financial problems that knock us for a loop. Maybe addiction, illness, loneliness, a wayward child, maybe unfaithfulness finds it’s way into our marriage, divorce, depression, death, and the list goes on.  These things happen and knock us all the way down, and we break.  Sometimes, we shatter.  Sadly, nobody is immune to the problems and pains of this world.  But be of good cheer!  He has overcome this world!

Our sweet Lord and Savior picks up each broken piece of our hearts, our marriages, our lives, and glues them together with holy glue that binds and repairs like only He can do!  His hands lovingly and gently hold us until the binding is complete and all the repairs are made.  Then He places us back in a special place of honor where He can enjoy His handiwork.  Over and over again, He patiently tends to our broken pieces, each time, making us stronger and stronger. Each time, investing more of Himself in us, making us beautiful because of the time spent in His hands.

My frame is now so glued together that when it fell for the fourth time, it did not break.  You see, there was so much glue, and so many repairs, that the frame is now stronger than when I first made it! My beloved frame spent hours in the hands of it’s maker as I lovingly repaired it and made it like new.  It is more beautiful to me now than it was the day I made it!

Just like my frame, we can be certain that our Maker, the Almighty Lord God, will always pick us up when life knocks us down, He will hold us together, and return us to a place of Honor, where He will enjoy His beautiful creation forever!

Waxing Nostalgic

This was originally written 9 years ago, much has happened since then, but I still want to share. Tony’s birthday is coming up again, and Jenniffer has been gone for 39 years now.  It’s a blessing to know that God is good, all the time.  Even when we are grieving our empty nest, God is good, and He is a good Father, and He has a plan for a future and a hope for His children!  Please enjoy:

After church this morning, Gary and I headed to Sears. Tony’s birthday is the 22nd, and we were shopping for his gift. We decided on a Craftsman 26 gallon Air Compressor and the air tools that go with it. We were happily shopping and comparing prices in the tool section, Gary was joyously grunting and scratching with the excitement of being around so many tools. Then it happened. I saw the photography studio.

Years and years of memories hit me like a tsunami! They flooded my heart and I drowned in them! I honestly could not stay afloat in all those memories! Just yesterday, the childhood lifetime of my kids was photographed in that studio! Just yesterday, I was telling my boys to “smile” for the camera, and to not crawl on the dirty floor.  Just yesterday!  I had a complete, unabashed meltdown! I was crying and blindly trying to find my way back to the Craftsman Tool section when Gary spotted me.  His first thought was that I’d been attacked and stabbed, and he was scanning my body for wounds.  I could not find the words to explain the attack on my heart in the photography studio.  Poor Gary just held me in the Craftsman Tool section of Sears. And I sobbed. I didn’t even care what other customers thought. I lost it.

How can it be that yesterday I sat with my babies in those very chairs waiting to have them photographed for birthdays, Easter and Christmas and the next day I find myself shopping for an Air Compressor for my man-son? It’s just too horrible. I am not recovering from this mornings episode very quickly.

As I write this, I’m still crying, my eyes are swollen, and I’m a disaster. The really pathetic thing is, I don’t even want to feel better. I want to wallow in my misery. Clearly,  I’m a weird, sick person.  Am I supposed to get used to the fact that the beautiful childhood of my children is history?  Why yes, yes I am! And I have to thank God for those days, and move on, thanking God and praying for more days with my sons.  More days with my sons . . . . my goodness gracious, I have so much to look forward to!

Two days ago was the anniversary of the death of my cousin. She was shot in the head by a stranger 30 years ago. She was only 8. My Aunt and Uncle will never “get used” to living without Jenniffer.  They would love to have been able to buy their adult daughter a birthday gift.  Oh how they would have loved to mourn an empty nest.  I thank God that I am not in their situation, but today, it feels like I am, and I am sad.



Mary’s Hands

Mary's hands
Old and new.
My sweet Mary
Mary’s hands have held hundreds of babies.

I was with Mary when Joe died, holding her hand as she held his. They’d been married for most of their lives. She was 15 and he was 16 when they got married. They lived through hard times, and they struggled to get by, but they did get by. They were both very hard-working Mexican born Americans. Joe was a Veteran of War, Mary was his beloved.

When Joe died, Mary’s life changed dramatically. Joe had taken care of everything. He paid the bills, he took care of the yard, Mary was beside herself and overwhelmed with the thought of her life without her beloved. But she did it.

The next 15 years brought changes to Mary’s life. She was a widow. She was alone. She had to work her hands to the bone to take care of the third of an acre property she and Joe called “home” for so many years. But she did it.

Looking back, I see that Mary began to die when Joe did. Don’t get me wrong, she fought valiantly to maintain the life Joe had set up for her. It was just too much. Mary’s health began to fail, her body became frail. Her bones were wrought with the effects of arthritis. Her mind was overtaken with the ugly disease called dementia. Sweet Mary lived a life of fear, suspicion, and loneliness. Even her fingers betrayed her with pain and uselessness.

One day, as Mary sat rubbing her painful hands, she told me how embarrassed she was that her hands were so ugly. I took her hands in mine, and reminded her of the good things her hands had accomplished, the beautiful things her hands had done. I reminded her of the day her beloved Joe took her hands into his and made her his own. I reminded her of the day her firstborn wrapped his little fist around her finger for the first time. I reminded her of all the love her hands had bestowed upon those lucky enough to call her “Mom”, “Aunt”, “Sister”, “Daughter”, “Wife” or “friend”. I reminded her of the tears of others that she had lovingly brushed away with her hands. I reminded her of whose hand Joe held as he breathed his last breath on earth, and inhaled heaven. I told her that when I grow up, I want my hands to look like hers. She wept. So did I, and she held my hands.

As Mary’s world disintegrated into a world of paranoia and fear, dementia slowly stealing our Mary away from us, I knew she was getting home-sick for heaven. As sad as that realization was, it was also beautiful. It was beautiful to know that Mary had the hope of heaven! She knew that her pain was temporary, and that she would soon be in heaven with her beloved Joe, Patsy and so many others, and she would have a new body with beautiful graceful hands!

Mary was not afraid of reaching the end of life on earth, in fact, I believe she was longing for heaven. That gives me great joy! Like a child longs for, and looks forward to a trip to Disneyland, Mary had nights when she was too excited to sleep because of the joy she knew was set before her – heaven!

Recently, Mary told me that Joe and Patsy had visited her and told her to come with them. She was ecstatic with joy and anticipation . . .  I told her that if they come again, she should go with them. She looked at me and smiled, and said “Yeah? Should I?” “Without a doubt, Mary,” I said, “without a doubt!”

Mary exhaled earth and inhaled heaven last night. My heart is shattered and rejoicing. Mary’s hands are busy hugging and loving on her family in heaven. She has a new body and beautiful hands in heaven! I find it hard to fathom, though, that Mary’s hands could be any more beautiful than when she was here with us, holding ours.

I find hope in this. Mary is home. She exhaled earth and breathed the breath of heaven. She has been reunited with the love of her life, and her daughter, sister, brother, parents and her God.

Are you kidding me? She’s in heaven . . . .  literally!

I rejoice in this, as my heart selfishly breaks.