More Interruptions

I had no idea when I posted last about life’s interruptions how greatly our life was about to be interrupted. Death, a most unwelcome intruder, visited our family once again with the unexpected passing of my father-in-law, Edward Lyle Harlow. He died of an apparent heart attack April 30.

I was going by to drop Elsie off for a few hours so I could paint at my office. I was pulling into the driveway when my mother-in-law found him collapsed on the kitchen floor.

The next few hours were a blur. As we sat around the kitchen table, steam still rising from his coffee cup on the warmer, I was reminded again of how our lives had been interrupted.

I was angry. I hurt for my husband, my mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, myself and our children. I was not at all ready for this interruption.

While are hearts are still broken, our eyes still weeping, the memories too fresh, we have found comfort in the gifts our dear daddy/husband/grandpa left behind.

An avid gardener and lover of flowers, trees, plants and landscapes, it was almost like our dear Ed knew what was about to unfold. Nearly every day since his death two and a half weeks ago, plants he ordered have arrived in the mail, one of which is called “Widow’s Tears.” A fancy honeysuckle showed up that he intentioned to plant along our chain link fence as well as wave petunias, dahlias, heirloom tomatoes, peppers and other plants. He had a sense of humor that was always present even among the most magnificent garden displays as shown in these photos.

Although we have had many moments of intense sadness, these “gifts” have evoked smiles through the tears. Although Eli and Elsie have had many questions and have cried many tears for grandpa, we are taking time as a family to care for his plants and remember him in a beautiful way. There is something so powerful and unifying in watering and tending flowers together as we rehearse stories and laugh about cherished memories of our precious loved one.

Interruptions. We cannot avoid them. We cannot prevent them. We cannot expect them to adhere to our schedule. But in time, we can find beauty rising from the ashes of our sorrow. We can find small, seemingly insignificant things that become the most meaningful moments of our day and if we allow it, we can grow from these interruptions. Just as we are tending the plants from daddy and encouraging them to grow, these interruptions can cause us to blossom more fully into the persons we were created to be. Adversity can be the fertilizer that nourishes the most beautiful gardens.

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I’m not a person of faith

I confess, I’m not a person of faith, not by nature anyway. It is not my natural response to immediately call on Jesus when our daughter is diagnosed with pneumonia and bronchitis or when I get a voicemail from my doctor on a Friday evening telling me she’s reviewed my sonogram and to call her first thing Monday morning.

I get there. I cry out to God. I do feel his presence and comfort in the midst of these storms, but I am the kind of person that needs the encouragement of my family and friends and fellow believers to remind me to trust.

I am Peter who has the faith to step out of the boat, but gets overwhelmed by my circumstances. I am David who longs to serve God wholly and completely and yet fall short in my sin. I am Abraham who hopes against hope that God’s “got this” and yet I am Thomas who can only believe by seeing and touching Jesus for myself. I am Mary, in awe and wonder of the work God has done and wants to do in my life. I am Martha who is so busy serving that I forget the “one thing” that is necessary; to sit with Jesus and to rest quietly in his presence.

I chastise myself for reaching out to others, then I read and listen to the messages of love and encouragement and support and I am thankful and overwhelmed at the beautiful friends I am blessed with. I can only pray I encourage others the way I am lifted up.

We are brothers, sisters, family and friends; sojourners in this difficult and joyful life. We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. In this togetherness, we experience a glimpse of the relationship God longs to have with us.

I am so thankful, so very blessed to be surrounded by people who constantly remind me to “Turn my Eyes Upon Jesus.” Because of you, my friends, I am challenged to be a person of faith.

Births, Illnesses and 5K’s

What a crazy hectic week and weekend! Besides hosting our first-ever Annual Sadie Rose 5K, my mom, step-dad, Aunt Edie, Aunt Ruth had gone to Edisto Island with my sister, Amy, her husband, Michael, and their kids. Not having them with me to help coordinate the 5K was a big deal. They are always my most loyal Sadie Rose volunteers. (Check out The Sadie Rose Foundation.)

Things were looking good by Thursday as far as the 5K planning. I thought we had it all under control. Then, Friday morning, my brother-in-law, Michael, got sick. Very sick! The family was planning on returning from the beach Saturday, but headed home first thing Friday morning instead. They were 10 hours from home, but thought they could make it back to our area so he could go to our local hospital. With every passing mile, my sister grew more concerned.

Continue reading “Births, Illnesses and 5K’s”

Why God Made Thistles

Our 3-year-old son walked up to the screen door today and whimpered softly, “Mom, why did God make thistles?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied, having often wondered myself why God made nuisances such as thistles, bats, mosquitoes,¬† mice, and well, you get the picture.

I gathered Eli in my lap. He still upset from planting a bare foot squarely into a sprawling “sticker” in our back yard so I determined to help him find a purpose for the pain. We set out to learn more how thistles affect our environment. What we found was a lot of advertising for “wild thistle honey.”

Aha, there it was. The teachable moment I was looking for. Apparently beekeepers often place hives near patches of uncontrolled thistle plants in the fall of the year and voilà, sweet molasses-like honey abounds.

I explained to Eli how thistles are food for birds and bees and how that helps the bees produce honey. Then, to myself, I thought, “It’s interesting how something that causes a little pain can produce such sweet results. Kind’ve like life it we allow it to be so.”