Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Legacy ...

L-R: Mawmaw, aunt Lela, Pawpaw, my Mama, aunt Christine, and aunt Marie- the cute little blond standing in the front.

A Legacy Of Faith … How it all began.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve heard the stories of my paternal grandmother’s faith and love of God, which was very instrumental in laying my spiritual foundation. But there’s more. A lot more.

I have rarely mentioned my maternal grandfather, the evangelist -- The Evangelist Saul Brasher. Now days when you hear the word “evangelist,” you probably picture a man on TV wearing a white suit who owns a private jet, and is asking for a financial gift, right? In my opinion, the word has been abused over the years to the point most people cringe when they hear someone is an evangelist. The word evangelize simply means to convert others to your faith. My grandfather spread the gospel all over Alabama and Georgia during the years following the great depression, when people needed hope in a way they never imagined before. As most evangelists did, he supported his family on the financial offerings he received from the church. During the great depression, there was no money to offer, so as you can imagine, my grandfather was not a rich man. No, not rich, but they never went to bed hungry, and they were blessed in ways money can’t buy.

My maternal grandparents knew hard times well. They knew poverty. They knew the pain of losing a child; They lost four children. They endured persecution from those of the same faith. Did you know that Christian soldiers are the worst to destroy their own? The first thing I think of when I look at the photo above is my mama’s hair. Her parents allowed her to get a perm for the first time when she was fifteen years old. Some of the women in their church went overboard with persecution, thumping the bible and pointing their self-righteous fingers in her face. Pawpaw stood firm behind his daughter, and supported her new hairdo. Pawpaw stood up to the finger-pointers, and I’m so proud of him for doing that. He understood that a person’s walk with the Lord has nothing to do with their hairstyle. He fought against religious legalism and taught us that Christ is about relationship, not religion. And most certainly not about judging others.

My grandfather walked through life just as he is posing in the photo above -- Clinging to his bible. Pawpaw literally breathed in an exhaled the word. He held on to his beliefs, and he truly practiced what he preached.

I remember when I was a little girl going to visit my grandparents in the country - Pawpaw had a trail in the woods behind their house that led a path to his “rock alter”. Every day, as long as he was able, he took his bible and walked that path to be alone with God. He spent many mornings on his knees in prayer. Not only did he pray for his family, his church family, and his nation, Pawpaw would spend much of this time praising God and giving thanks … just being with God one-on-one, loving Him. “Prayer is not just about asking God for something,” he’d say. He instructed me that we should be thankful, and approach God with thankful hearts like it’s Thanksgiving Day, every day.
God hears the prayers of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)
This thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for the legacy of my grandfather, whose prayers are still being honored for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I cling to the word myself now, and hope to have the courage and the strength to continue in Pawpaw's footsteps in whatever the Lord has planned for my life.

Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving this year.

Next blog, I plan to continue my family’s story - I’m not sure what it’ll be yet, whatever I feel led in my heart to write about.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Okay, Now What?

I am here because I publicly stated I would blog again. I made that announcement to motivate myself. I hate not to keep a promise. So here I am.

Now what?

Honestly, I’ve been suffering from the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced. I’m sure losing my mama has a lot to do with that, but I was even struggling before she went home to be with the Lord.

I’ve had such a difficult time dealing with mama’s death, my doctor prescribed valium and an antidepressant. Well, for the first three months I felt nothing. “Numbness is better than agonizing pain,” I said to myself. In moments that I should have cried, I just couldn’t. I felt completely numb. Up until about 6 weeks ago I was doing okay (then had a brief meltdown); I was going through the motions. Trying to clean my house and cook, trying to clean daddy’s house and cook, trying to care for Stephen, trying to be a wife, trying to pay the bills, trying to be involved in Stephen’s school activities … naturally I put my relationship with God on the back burner because I was spread so thin, I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) carve out more than time spent at church twice a week for Him. I got into that old rut that a lot of us fall into at some point in our walk with the Lord - Spending Sundays and Wednesdays at church, going through the motions of what we’ve allowed to become monotonous, then the rest of our time is spent on everything and anything but God. Why is it so hard to just stick to a morning devotion? Why is it so difficult to just draw closer to Him?

Without opening myself up to a religious debate, I dare say it’s because the flesh just isn’t willing and our natural tendency is to give in to our flesh and not to our spirit. How many of us are spirit-led and not led by our flesh? On a full-time basis? I believe a lot of us are. I know a whole lot of people who are spirit-led.

THAT IS WHAT I WANT! What does it say in Matthew 26:41? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. That’s me. I am getting so sick of giving in to my own will (flesh) I can’t stand it. The strange thing is, in my case, my flesh is not high maintenance. I’m a very simple woman, and I don’t require a lot of attention, nice things or a fancy lifestyle. I drive an eleven year old second-hand pick up truck and live in a small single-wide, so it’s obvious I’m not a demanding wife; I never have been. I’ve always accepted whatever life gave me and figured it was good enough, although I didn‘t jump for joy over it, mind you. Would I like more? I sure would! But I’m not willing to put Stephen in a group home so I can go back to work for meaningless material things. Stephen comes first. So it’s been established my weakness is not material things. I do not desire to go outside my marriage to seek comfort … So very strangely, in my case, I’m led by my *responsibilities*. I have even more of them now that my mama is gone. I’m taking care of her home and mine. We have talked about combining our households and moving in with daddy, but it isn’t what any of us truly want to do. We would be cramping daddy’s lifestyle, his dog hates every human being on earth - he bites Stephen every chance he gets. Stress rises for all of us when we go to daddy’s house. Stephen is the most stressed out of all of us when we are there. Moving in with daddy is no longer an option. Period.

So what can I do to keep from going insane through this period of adjustment?

I know first and foremost - God must be placed number one in my life again. I KNOW that.

Okay, now let’s get back to the wreckage of a lifestyle I have going on here: How and where do I begin to make a new schedule for Stephen; my family; for ME? How can I start doing it all without losing my sanity?

Do you remember my mention of a brief meltdown I had a few weeks ago? For months I was numb. I couldn’t cry at all. The husband and I were at a local Barbeque restaurant. He was talking about work, and I was staring out into the parking lot when all of a sudden, I started seeing visions in my mind of mama. Visions of mom and me when I was a little girl, cooking together when I was so little I had to stand in a kitchen chair to reach the counter; My first day of school - I had a lump in my throat but tried to be a big girl and smile as mama played with my Cindy Brady-type pigtails and said she‘d see me in just a few hours, because I could tell she was on the verge of crying as much as I was; singing with mama as she played gospel music on the piano; mama hugging me when I was crying because a boyfriend dumped me, telling me about her experiences as a young girl; My wedding day as she adjusted my southern belle style wedding dress and hat, smiling and crying at the same time; I remembered her blessing me out and scolding me for divorcing my first husband; I saw the disappointment on her face when I told her I was pregnant (and unmarried, which in my family is a huge no-no). I saw her holding Stephen in the rocking chair and singing to him, and I remembered that she never brought the subject up again after laying eyes on him; I saw our arguments all played out again, and finally, I saw her on her deathbed while I fed her jello and held the straw for her to drink her sprite. Then at last, I saw her spirit leave her body and only her shell remained before me. Just like that, the most important woman in my life was gone …

Yes, all the above went through my mind in a matter of minutes and I began to cry, uncontrollably, right there in the middle of Full Moon BBQ. People began to stare at me, then they started giving my husband dirty looks as if they were thinking, “That poor girl! He’s dumping her in a public place! What a piece of crap!” We hurriedly asked for to-go boxes and left. I apologized to my husband, and he was quick to forgive. He understands because he also lost his mother years ago.

So, blog-friends, the recap above is what life has been like for the last 7 months. Before you advise me, I’m already in grief counseling. It is helping, and I hope that someday I can be as helpful to others as my counselors are to me.

So in closing, again I ask: Now what?

Thanks for listening …

Mia Renee’