Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Let's Start Talking

On Friday and Saturday, I attended Harvest Call in Ft. Worth, Texas, a gathering of people who want to teach God's Word through free English lessons around the world. Let's Start Talking, www.lst.org, is led by Mark and Sherrylee Woodward, who have been sending missionaries "into all the world" for over 30 years.

Having been to Brazil, Thailand twice, and Fiji on LST trips, I was definitely one of the "old-timers" there. But the excitement and enthusiasm of all, from newbies to oldsters, was contagious. I also learned more about FriendSpeak, which offers free English lessons through the local congregation. We have a FriendSpeak program at our church, the Central Church in Cheviot, a suburb of Cincinnati (http://centralchurchofchrist.homestead.com), but we would like to reach a wider audience. We are wondering if any students at the University of Cincinnati or Cincinnati State University would be interested in free English lessons. We have at least ten qualified teachers who can help with reading and especially conversing in English. Thus the name of the organization: Let's Start Talking. It's a way to help our international friends improve their conversational English skills in a free, nonthreatening environment.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Life and Death

Another death, another friend. This one older, but her death unexpected. Her family is in shock. The doctor told them she had only two to four months to live, and they could see her struggle to breathe, even with oxygen. The next day, as they were processing "two to four months to live," she died.

Her husband of 60 years has come undone. Within two days, he gave away his queen-size bed and bought a single. When I heard this, I recalled his wife's story to a small group at a women's retreat for our church. She said that a few weeks before that, she and her husband had lain in bed together and read "Song of Solomon" to each other, bit by bit, night after night. There was a hint of a giggle as she admitted it. As young women, we received an entirely new concept of mature love--the example of these grandparents who loved deeply and were still deeply in love, who included God's word in showing love to each other. What a blessed memory for me!

But of course he can't stand that bed now. Too many beautiful memories turned painful.

He wants no funeral, no flowers, no food. He wants no celebration. He cannot face celebrating a life well-lived in the reality of his loss. He has grudgingly agreed to a brief service at the cemetery chapel, his son speaking. There is no obituary in the newspaper. I think he really doesn't want anyone but family there.

We have been with their extended family through baptisms, weddings, births, unwed pregnancies, divorce, and now death. We have seen their children grow in faith and love, their children and grandchildren become missionaries. We consider ourselves family. We will be there to grieve with them, while privately we will rejoice that our friend is now breathing freely in God's own air.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to the Blog

Some days just don't turn out as we expect, do they? This one didn't. I had my day mapped out to write, write, write. I wanted to reestablish this blog that I started in 2005 and have neglected ever since. I have a new *2010 Writers' Market* to peruse; I had a devotional thought during my Bible study time that I wanted to get on paper.

Then the painter called to come give an estimate. Of course I went to my Pilates class. I remembered an errand for a friend that I'd forgotten to do yesterday, and that took some time.

Back at home, I started getting calls about a friend who just died. Her death was not unexpedcted, but still sad for her family and wonderful for her. The last time I sat with her, I said, "Merry, I know you want to go be with Jesus. I hope you can go soon." So now she is there.

But the detritus of her life must be managed by her devastated family. "I always thought I was the strong one," her husband of 40 years admitted. "Now I know she was."

So we started planning the memorial service at the church building for Saturday afternoon, which seemed too easy. It was. There is a wedding scheduled there at 4:30 on Saturday. I called more people, more people called me. We changed to morning, and then I received two calls about the bride having an arch there, decorated well ahead of time. What to do about the arch?

I said, "It has to be moved in. Surely it could be moved aside for the funeral and then moved back." Neither of the bride's champions agreed with that option. I said, "Whatever you think," and hung up.

It is a situation of low-budget wedding meets low-budget funeral. Neither of these parties has even the usual resources for such events. I pray for them both and leave it up to God. He's so much better than I about handling such things. Look at all the experience Jesus had with weddings and funerals.

At least, I thought, I have dinner in the crock pot. But then my sweet husband comes home and wants to take me in his convertible down to the beautiful Ohio River for dinner, since pleasant warm nights are becoming rare and we should take advantage. He's right. I'd rather enjoy my life than just write about it. So I'm out of here.