To be Remembered

“To be Remembered”

Today was flower day.
I took my client, who is just a couple of short months away from being 100, out to the two cemeteries where her family resides.

Like always, it was errand day, where we were out and about getting groceries and other needed items. I had a car full of groceries and cemetery day is usually a two or three hour process. I squelched my sigh as best as I could, trying not to think of the food that was rapidly thawing in the surprisingly muggy weather.

I took her to a local store where I could get the car close to where the flowers were kept. Peering through the chain link fence, she asked me to look at the pretty red Daisies that had caught her attention.

“They have to be in bloom. I don’t see any geraniums, do you? They last longer.” She looked anxiously through the fence.

As I parked the car, I assured her I’d take a good look around and make sure to choose the nicest ones.

She had mentioned only getting a flower for her husband’s grave so I double checked, “Just one? Or do you want to do your parents?”

“I want to do my sister’s. Then there is my son’s…”

“Want me to get 10 then? Like usual?” At her nod, I left the car with her laughter following me as I shouted, “Don’t let anyone steal you!”

I took time to look through all the flowers, making sure to pick the nicest, fullest, brightest plants.

As we went to the cemeteries, I was reminded that she’s nearing 100. 100 years of love and death. She pointed at homes along the roads we were on, family members who lived in those homes are now in the cemeteries we visited. 100 years of family and friends. A 100 years of joy and sorrow.

So as I placed the chosen flowers on her family’s graves, I took the time to clean the dead leaves and cut grass off of the stones. I pruned the flowers that we had put on the stones at Easter that were still blooming and made sure to collect any trash.

And I stood in for my client.

I cared for her family in her stead. As she stifled her tears of being the last of her family, I became her feet. I represented her love as I became her hands.

I could have rushed through putting the flowers out, but it was a moment to remind my client that she is known and she is loved.

We all want to be remembered.
We all want to know that we will be missed.
We all want to be known.
We want someone to care.
And ultimately, we want someone to miss us when we are gone.

In our care of our cemeteries, we are telling each other how we will remember our loved ones. And sadly, we don’t necessarily do it very well. Hundreds, if not thousands, of local cemeteries are disappearing as nature reclaims the land. Loved ones of ages past are disappearing from sight and memories.

So, I will be my client’s feet, as she expresses her love to her family. I will take the time to show respect to people I have never met. Because I want to be remembered as well.

I could have rushed through the day, but it was more important to care for my client and her heart. Groceries can wait.

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The Eternality of God & our worship

I had a hard time with getting ready for this talk for our Ladies’ Tea.
You know how hard it is to think of something encouraging to say when the last few weeks have been rather emotionally draining?
I’m sure we have all been there before.
It’s life. Life has its ups and downs, twists and turns.
It can be ecstatically beautiful one moment while being exhaustingly difficult the next.
So when I was asked to do this talk, I was greatly blessed by one of the most difficult passages I have had to study in a long while.
And it’s not so much the passage itself, but more of getting out of my own head space to think critically about this passage and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me.
During the last two weeks my mind has been in Tacoma with my uncle who has been the hospital due to complications following the removal of a golf ball size tumor from his brain.
It has been on my grandparents who are up there to take care of him and the fact they are not emotionally strong enough or physically able enough to take care of him.
It has been on my mom who is facing her own upcoming surgery while having to juggle her job, her parents, her brothers and her nephew. She is having to make medical decisions for her brother now.
So I had a hard time trying to focus my mind on this passage. Which is a bit funny considering what it says.
This is Psalm 90:

Lord, you have been our refuge in every generation.
Before the mountains were born,
Before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
From eternity to eternity, you are God.
You return mankind to dust,
saying “return, descendents of Adam.”
For in your sight a thousand years are like yesterday that passes by,
like a few hours of the night.
You end their lives; they sleep.
They are like grass that grows in the morning- in the morning it sprouts and grows.
By evening it withers and dries up.
For we are consumed by your anger; we are terrified by your wrath
You have set our unjust ways before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days ebb away under your wrath; we end our years like a sigh.
our lives last seventy years, or if we are strong, eighty years.
Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed they pass quickly and we fly away.
Who understands the power of your anger?
your wrath matches the fear that is due you.
Teach us the numbers of our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts,
Lord- How long?
Turn and have compassion on your servants
Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.
Make us rejoice for as many days as you have humbled us
for as many years as we have seen adversity
Let your work be seen by your servants, and your splendor by their children
Let the flavor of the Lord our God be on us;
Establish for us the work of our hands-
Establish the work of our hands!

This whole passage is reminiscent, at least to me, of one of my favorite books of the Bible- Ecclesiastes. As you heard, it’s about the fleeting life of man, how God can simply blink and a thousand years pass away, how we live and die with but a sigh.
To some that may sound depressing, and some days it can be particularly difficult to handle.
But, like Ecclesiastes, it is also about the eternality of our God. And that is what is the true comfort.
No matter what goes on in this world- going into space or being thrown into wars, births and deaths, inventions or politics, marriages and divorce, ultimately these will all just disappear. These all just short moments in time.
Take a moment to look at your hands with me:
What do you see?
Scars & calloused, nicks & bumps .
Working hands.
Hands have the ability to heal, hurt, create and destroy.
On the body of a mother, they have the balanced ability to discipline even as they wipe away tears.
I have always had a fascination with watching a person’s hands when they talk.
Hands show life. Age and wisdom are etched into these moving appendages.
Whether they are soft with youth or coarse from work, they have the great ability to bring forth beauty.
The work of our hands though are fleeting.
No matter how long we walk this earth, eventually whatever we have created with our hands will wither and fade away.
We pack so much to do in our lives, we are always racing past where we are in the moment to plan for what is next. In that race, we lose sight of the present moment of the joy and even the tears.
We lose sight of the refuge that God has always been to us.
No matter when we were born, the only thing that has always been the same is our God.
We can work ourselves to the bone, attempting to build something that might last, but no matter how much effort we put into it, eventually, as time slips through the hour glass, it will start to crumble and fall apart.
Even though those great pyramids a half of a world away have stood there for over 5,000 years, even they, manmade amazements are crumbling away.
There is only one true refuge left for humanity, the only refuge we have ever had. Under God’s shadow.
The psalmist’s cry at the end of this psalm “Let the favor of the Lord Our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands- establish the work of our hands!” it isn’t about making what we physically create on earth last, but rather, don’t let our worship return to us empty.
This psalm has been attributed to Moses, the Israelites are on their way to the Promised Land, but due to their sin- even their secret sins, they were forced to wander the wilderness for 40 years. 40 years for those who first left their slavery to weaken and eventually die. So that a new generation might step in to the new land without the falsehoods of the past coming with them.
God’s anger might have seemed so strong to these people, but because a thousand years is a blink of time, 40 years of his anger is not that much. He quickly lifted his wrath from his people so that they might have joy.
Moses, who had so faithfully followed God would never step foot into the land he wanted to see. Because he allowed man’s fickleness to sway him from his course.
Every day was counted by God, each man and woman lived their allotted time. They grew fast and lush but quickly faded away with just a sigh to mark their passing.
Moses’ plea here was that we might have as much joy as we have had adversity.
I could echo that plea. Sometimes it seems that no matter what you do you can never get past the obstacle in your way. The whole mountain that is just really a little mole hole is going to give you difficulty but it is the way we worship in that moment that counts.
In our moments of being humbled  we will have moments to rejoice.
God’s faithful love has never changed. It won’t change in the moments when he disciplines us so that we may grow righteous, it won’t change despite the sins we all carry in our hearts.
The only thing that never changes is God. He has always loved us, he always will. But his love is the love of a father who will not allow his children to do bad. We will be allowed to feel his anger but we will always rest in his love.
Our worship needs to reflect that.
Establish the work of our hands. Don’t let our worship be fleeting. Let our worship echo throughout all eternity with the eternal God.
We were given a great gift in our ability to worship. Our worship does not always have to be happy, it can be filled with every emotion we ever feel.
The beauty of our God is that he is so big and powerful and he knows us so well, that he can take our tears, our anger, and our laughter and find the loveliness that he always sees in his creation.
There is no set rule in how we are to worship our God.
We can praise him outside as much as we can in the pew. Some of us cannot put the words to our prayers so we just literally cry out to him, others paint or create to try show their passion for him.
He accepts all forms of worship because he has created us all in his image.
Our worship is only empty when we refuse to enter into it.
We must allow our short lives to be full of God, we need to see his hands in the moments of adversity and remember that he is also in those moments of joy.
While I highly doubt any of us will find ourselves stumbling through the desert for 40 years, we might find ourselves wandering in moments that seem like a wasteland of faith. Where it is so hard to remember that God is good.
I encourage you in those moments try to remember the joy filled ones you have had. Build off of that worship and find the strength to praise God even when it feels like it will make you bleed. Our pain and tears are a sign of worship as well.
God is our refuge. We will have moments of great joy but also moments of great sorrow. Our lives are fleeting but God is eternal.
Find peace in that.
God will never change. And he will never leave you.
Our worship will last even when we will not. So rejoice loudly in every moment of your life, and I believe that echoes of your life will be felt for all eternity because you will be worshipping the eternal God.

Eternal Water

May 4th, I was honored by the chance to lead the Youth Fair’s Sunday service at the fairgrounds. I was wracking my mind for something to talk about. I had a week’s notice to come up with a minimum of 15 minutes of talk time.
What in the world would I talk about to a bunch of kids and their parents?
God’s sense of humor took over.
It was the week that we had a torrential downpour for three or so days in a row. We’ve had it before, we’ll have it again. It truly wasn’t that a big of a deal, it’s just the way people react to it. Plus it made the fairgrounds a lake where they nearly had to swim their animals from their stalls. 4Hers were digging trenches in the thick sawdust to try and divert the rain so the animals wouldn’t have to stand in the water.
So, what idea hatched in my mind that week and couldn’t be forgotten? The power of Eternal Water.
yep. God was laughing.
What follows is basically my talk, much to my audience’s amusement:
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This week I had a song go through my mind over and over again, Tenth Avenue’s “Love is Here.” If you haven’t heard it, they take a verse from Isaiah 55 which says “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!”
Then the thought came of how very blessed we were in this nation that we never have need to thirst.clean-dirty-drinking-glass

In a world where 780 million people – that’s 1 in 9 people, lack the ability to get clean water in developing countries- Americans are extremely blessed.
In a world where women will walk up to six hours a day, to gather a ten gallon bucket of what MIGHT be considered clean water, we just have to turn on our faucets.
Where little girls are taken out of school to gather water, our girls just have to grab a bottle of water that they rarely finish.
Where a large slum city uses less water a day than what we waste in one of our showers. 3.5 million people die every year due to the lack of clean water and America is considered one of the most dehydrated countries with 75% of the population suffering from Chronic dehydration.
We are a nation greatly blessed by an over abundance of water, and we don’t drink. We chose to fill that thirst with sugar, caffeine, alcohol and false energy. We mask life giving water with stuff that doesn’t help us, but can actually harm us.
In a nation that if we are thirsty we just have to go to the sink, where even if there is a drought, there is still water to drink, we are so blessed but we ignore it.
We are blessed as well with living water. We have the ability pick up a Bible in our language at nearly any bookstore or supermarket. We can download it on any mobile device or computer in seconds. But we don’t read it.
We fill up on reality tv, and celebrity gossip. We can spend hours on end playing a violent game on our xbox, but we can never find the time to drink the life giving water of the Bible.
In a world where millions will never hear or read the Scripture in their language, we are blessed. We can choose our translation and our version, but we rarely spend time diving into the words.
We choose to believe what someone says about God’s word, rather than reading it for ourselves. We give away our God given right to know his word, because we are too lazy to read them.
We are given healthy, fresh, healing, life giving water to drink, and we pour it out instead.
Jesus echoes Isaiah in the story of the woman at the well in John 4, but shows that he himself is the true living water– When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

We can choose what we want to take into our bodies—dirty water or clean water.
We can choose what we read and watch that affects our spiritual body- the Bible or anything that is not glorifying to God.
Will you go thirsty? Or will you drink deep of healing water that can give you eternal life?
The choice is ultimately up to you.
If we live in a world where people will walk miles to sit at a reading of the Scriptures, in a language that many of the audience won’t even understand fully, while we use our free Gideon Bible to prop up a table, ultimately it is us who will go thirsty while they drink deeply of Jesus’ presence.
The choice is: will you choose a relationship with the Loving, Sacrificial God who died so that you could fill your soul with delight or will you choose to fill your time with false joy watching Keeping up with the Kardashians or playing Call of Duty?
Take in good and never thirst again.
or Take in bad and be constantly looking for more.
choose.
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(And now, this next Saturday I have the honor to speak to the ladies of my church at a special Ladies’ Tea. Attempting to figure out what to speak in regards to Psalm 90:17, so I’m sure I’ll have something up here regarding that talk soon. God keeps giving me great opportunities to speak of him, and I stand amazed at every chance he gives me!)

Lost innocence

Today, once again, the radios and the tvs are full of violence. Within days of a mall shooting, even more lives are lost and this time in the place where innocence is suppose to thrive. In moments of such terror and horror, we blame God for letting this happen.
“If God was good, he would have stopped this…”
“How could God let this happen?!”
And many more angry outbursts against a loving God.
I do not feel the need to defend God. He’s big enough to withstand misunderstandings, anger, and even hatred. He loves us no matter what language and emotions we throw at him. So in our sorrow, don’t turn away from him, but rather give it all to him. God can handle it. He wants it all. And he is grieving for us just as much as we are for ourselves.
The main thing we should be concerned about are those who lost their innocence today. Parents who are grieving the lost of their precious little children. 20 innocent souls today were lost. 6 adults who worked with those students and tried to protect them, are also gone. As well as one person whose unknown emotional state caused so much damage. 27 people are gone and the community is hurting. The children who survive will spend the rest of their life struggling with what happened today. Adults will cast blame and will not get the answers they seek. We need to focus on what matters the most- caring for the families who are grieving, and making sure the children are protected.
A mall in Oregon has opened it’s doors again and eventually, the elementary school will once again open to allow children in to learn in Connecticut. We should never forget the tragedies that have happened there. We should learn and change because of it. Our job is to protect the innocent. May we offer refuge to the hurting, and be the voice of reason to those who have become lost.
We wish that this would never happen again, but sadly in a world full of broken people who are steeped in sin, we are seeing this too much.
May the Lord come soon so that the world may be made new again.
Praying for all of us.

Beautiful age


Today’s culture in America is truly negative against those who are aging. It’s an abomination to the “beauty” companies who keep improving their formulas so that one might have less wrinkles. We puncture our skin with needles and knives to get tighter skin, while we insert foreign objects that were not created by the God of Creation into the very body given to us- simply to deny our own age.
Women fib their ages by decades while men go into mid-life crises trying to prove they aren’t as old as their birth certificate proves.
Why do we hate age so much in this culture?
In many other cultures- that have some how stayed untouched by America’s brashness- age is something to be venerated. They hold a special place in the family hierarchy and those who hit a certain age are sought after for their wisdom. In tribal cultures they are the rulers of the village- guiding it along treacherous paths so that they might thrive. In many cultures the grandparents live with the children, helping take care of the grandchildren and helping the family prosper. They have respect and honor.
Then there is America. Where we have totally turned upside down what it means to be family. Where more families are torn apart by selfishness than anything. Where broken families are meshed together with other broken families in an attempt to heal which causes more problems than it mends. Where family members are replaced, misplaced, and displaced as easily as a pair of shoes. Where family is something you make rather than being born into, when gathering a group of friends that fit your criteria is better than your own blood. This is America in all of her broken misunderstanding.
But, then when we age, our family- because of our culture- decides we no longer matter in the grand scheme of the family. So we do our ‘duty’ hopefully and place Grandma/pa in a nursing home– spend the money so that they are out of sight out of mind. We can’t be bothered taking care of an ailing human who only takes up time and valuable resources. Better to pay someone else to do so we don’t have to be bothered.
So life goes on.
We fight the act of aging because we fear the very thing we have done to our own parents happening to us.
The Baby Boomer generation in fact are facing this dilemma more than anyone right now. There are more than 78 million baby boomers out there who are hitting the age of 65. As a caregiver many of my clients will now be part of that generation. They will also be the ones who will fight the most about what it means to be considered old. And because of their own actions towards their own parents- their children will mimic them. They will most likely be one of the most forgotten aging generations in the retirement and nursing centers than any previous one. Many families have not instilled in their children the need to respect and honor their elders, so many children and grandchildren will not understand the need to care for their aging family members and will even begrudge the need to put money towards their care.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are on the way to being a normal action of an aging generation because they fear age and suffering- and they want to die on their own terms.
Age is beautiful. Your face will show the pages of your life. The silver of your hair will show the wisdom you have gained through pain and joy. Why do we fight something so beautiful?
I served a woman who made it to her 105th birthday- a woman who lived through the War to End all Wars- twice. A woman who saw technology create wondrous things never thought possible. She met many people and she was a blessing to know. She didn’t fear death but embraced life like an old friend. The beauty carved into her face made her radiant. A small woman in stature but a giant in personality. To sit at her feet and hear the stories are some of my fondest memories.
I love to hear the stories these elders carry. Sadly, many of them will go unheard and forgotten because we can’t be bothered to take the time to listen. Wisdom will be loss and ignorance will be hailed the victor.
Embrace age I say! Sure, your joints will ache, your sight might fail, your hearing might go- but share your wisdom. I am not saying that age doesn’t have it shortcomings but the wisdom that you can impart is worth so much. Don’t let your children be ignorant and don’t hide from age. No matter how much one might hide- it will always find you. You think you might erase your wrinkles of years pass, but one day you’ll look in the mirror and realize that you look much older now than if you had just let life creep over your face the way it was going too.

A poem I wrote to a client who was apologizing for getting old:

You’re Not Old!
For Ann M-C
By Ranelle Gildersleeve
August 2012

You don’t eat slow- you’re savoring every bite!
You don’t walk slow- you’re smelling the roses!
You aren’t hard of hearing- you’re having deep thoughts!
You don’t sleep too much- you’re just praying a whole lot more!
You’re joints aren’t popping- you ate Rice Krispies this morning!
You don’t have false teeth- you just have an extra smile!
You don’t go to the doctors a lot- you just go to get updates on their families!
You don’t take too many pills- you are just supporting your local pharmacy!
You don’t forget things- you just keep them in an extra safe spot!
You don’t repeat stories- you just remember the good times!
You’re not old- you just see the world a little better!

 A letter from an aging mother to her daughter: The day I am getting old

Pretty (but invasive) Weeds

Scotch Broom

I have spent most of my formative years growing up in the country. With grandparents and numerous friends who have toiled over the soil, I’ve heard a lot of complaints regarding certain weeds.
Two types of weeds in particular cause a lot of angst in the farming community. One, Scotch Broom, is known to be a hardy weed that was introduced to America (and other countries) from it’s original countries of England and West Africa because of it’s ornamental quality. It was considered to be a beautiful plant with delicate but hardy foliage. It is now considered a noxious invasive plant within America. Since the introduction of this plant in the 1800’s, it is becoming abundantly clear that it is smothering out flora that is native to this country. It has no natural predator to keep in check so it takes over wherever it might have a possibility of growing roots. Oregon alone has lost nearly $47 million in timber production each year because of this fast growing plant ability to choke out local flora including the newly planted saplings.
The other noxious invasive plant that causes a lot of problems in farming communities is Tansy. Tansy, a pretty name for a pretty ‘flower’ that kills. It is so poisonous that the government has spent money in previous years trying to eradicate it. People would come into a community (or community members would do it) to pull and burn the plant out so livestock would be protected from this plant. This plant was also brought over by ‘well meaning’ people because it supposedly has a lot of medicinal uses (many of which have been proven false). This yellow flower crops up quickly in meadows and farm lands and is of great concern if horses and cattle are turned out for grazing in those area. Death can quickly come to animals who might eat it.
Pretty flowers that have become invasive weeds.
Reminds me of the power of sin.
Sin has this overwhelming ability to fool you into thinking that it is good, beautiful, helpful and so many more adjectives. We have two different types of sin- sin that is like Scotch Broom, that is so fast growing that it slowly chokes out our ability to do right. Or sin that is like Tansy, where only a few bites of the forbidden can cause death.

Tansy

And much like these nasty weeds that people complain about, so these different sins are equally available for complaining from the people that surround us. But, also just like Tansy and Scotch Broom, there are people in your life who love the chaoticness of sin and cultivate it like precious heirloom flowers, feeding and watering it while allowing it to take over their lives.
How do we eradicate such hardy sins if we can’t even manage to eradicate these weeds? With patience, prayer, and encouragement from our loved ones. We turn to God and lay our sinful lives before him, asking him to create change within us.
We allow God to break us and create in us distaste for that which is unrighteous. More often than not we will slip back into that sin, but we just have to claw our way out again. It’s about continually trying to become more Christ like in our lives, learning how to turn our backs on temptation and seek that which is holy.
We allow God to burn the sins within our hearts to ashes and allow him to plant fruits of the Spirit within us.
We can live in a ruined meadow full of Scotch Broom and Tansy where life is toxic and crowded, or we can live in an orchard full of healthy life giving fruit. Which do you choose?

Matthew 18:24-29

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

Prayers in the midst of horror

I’m sure everyone or just about everyone has heard inklings about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado by now, this post is from a lady who was in the midst of it and still found a way to praise God. Please be praying for all involved in such a horrible trauma.

A MINIATURE CLAY POT

July 22 – a note of explanation

I’ve tried to leave this post just as it was originally written because it was a heartfelt response after a very traumatic experience.  But I’m sometimes clumsy with words and even when I think I am writing clearly, there is always the reader who doesn’t know my heart or doesn’t hear the words the way they were intended.

I feel as though a few people have taken what I said and twisted it. When I wrote my post on Friday, I had a grand total of eleven blog  followers. Yes, eleven. I generally post on facebook and have had a loyal little group of readers that numbered thirty or so. That is who I generally write for.  People who know me  know that I dislike talking on the telephone. I’d pretty much rather clean a toilet than spend time on the phone. I…

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