Saying Good-bye: A Truth About Growing Older

Uncle Bill and me at a family reunion. Also, Aunt Vivian and my cousin, Chris.

When we’re young and think about growing older, we think about how we’ll change physically and probably think about our death. Our young minds scamper away from these foreign ideas, unhappy with the idea. Yet, it’s a fact a life.

One truth about aging that we don’t grasp until we’re older is the loss of loved ones, and, inevitably, the fact that we only see close family members at the funerals for these loved ones.

A little over a week ago, we lost my Uncle Bill. My family has said a lot about him on Facebook as each of us deals with this loss, but I’ve said little. Why? Probably because my grandchildren consume my time to the point of exhaustion, but this doesn’t mean my thoughts haven’t been on Uncle Bill. He was a fun man to be around, always joking. You knew when a joke was coming because his lips started to twitch and his eyes would sparkle with delight.

He had stories galore, too. Stories that my cousins and I need to capture before they’re all forgotten.

My earliest memory of Uncle Bill is at a family reunion when I was five or six. I was sitting on his lap and wanted to get up. He wouldn’t let me without the magic word. Well, guess what? I had NO clue what the magic word was. While I tried to guess he held me there. Yes, my parents had taught me to say please and thank you, but I guess they never used the term, magic word. Somehow, I managed to escape. I don’t recall if I said please or not, but I’ve never forgotten it.

After I grew up, Uncle Bill became the uncle I visited with when Mom and I took her annual trip to Sugar Mountain. Sometime during that trip, we’d meet up with her brothers for lunch. Bill was the oldest, then Bob who left us a few years ago, then Mom who we lost in 2014, and her younger brother, Wayne, the last surviving of the crew. The four of them together were an absolute hoot.

During these gatherings I heard stories about Uncle Bill’s flying antics (he had his pilot’s license), tales about their childhood escapades, and how Uncle Bill loved to goad Mom into an argument when they were young. He confessed that when she was attending Limestone College, he came along for the ride to pick her up for a weekend break. Within minutes, he’d picked an argument with her. As soon as he had her spitting mad, he sat back with a proud smile and announced that his job was done.

Here’s a video I shot in 2009 during one of those lunches. From left to right, Bob, Wayne, Mom (Babs), and Bill (apologies for the poor quality):

Bill was a softy, too. I don’t know how many times he called me because he was missing my dad or mom and just wanted to tell me how wonderful they were. He and his brothers came down to see mom and dad when my parents’ health declined. He was there the day my dad passed away. He was the first person who got a real reaction out of my mom when she was in the hospital after the fall that started the decline in her health.

Every time he spoke to me in the last few years, he told me I had his favorite name. His wife, who passed away in 1992, and my mother were both named Barbara.

So, yesterday, I gathered with family and his friends to say goodbye. It’s unreal he’s gone, but I’m so glad I came to know him better as an adult. I wonder if he’s picked an argument with Mom in heaven yet?

 

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Why Do We Love Superheroes?

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

Yesterday, I sent my grandchildren to school wearing superhero T-shirts.

Why?

The family of the six-year-old boy killed in the Townville school shooting requested that people attend his funeral in superhero clothing instead of suits and ties. Jacob loved superheroes, and the whole country embraced this idea.  Stores sold out of superhero-themed clothing, and many people wore them as they went about their day, even if they weren’t attending the funeral.

This got me to thinking about why we love superheroes.

Superheroes represent our need for someone who steps in and saves us from the bad guys. A person with supernatural abilities who has a knack of showing up when people need them, kicking the bad guys to the curb, and ensuring we’re safe.

I have good news for you!  He already exists!

  • There is someone who is always there.
  • There is someone who saves us.
  • There is someone who keeps us safe.
  • There is someone with supernatural abilities.
  • There is someone who people turn to when they desperately need him, and he’s always there.

All we have to do is seek Him and He will be there. In fact, even when we forget to seek Him, He is there.

Who, you ask?

The Holy Trinity:  God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We love superheroes because our souls cry out for someone who provides us this love and safety.

In Isaiah, we see His power and our yearning:

We have a strong city;
    God makes salvation
    its walls and ramparts.
Open the gates
    that the righteous nation may enter,
    the nation that keeps faith.
You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
He humbles those who dwell on high,
    he lays the lofty city low;
he levels it to the ground
    and casts it down to the dust.
Feet trample it down—
    the feet of the oppressed,
    the footsteps of the poor.

The path of the righteous is level;
    you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,[a]
    we wait for you;
your name and renown
    are the desire of our hearts.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
    in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
    the people of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26: 1-9

In Psalms, we see how we yearn for Him:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:2

Is it any wonder that we are fascinated with the idea of a superhero? Our souls know we need Him.

My heart breaks for the family of Jacob Hall, but I’m so glad that he had a savior superhero to bend down and scoop him up in His loving arms and say, “You are safe. You are loved. I am here.”

Never fear, Jesus is always here.

 

Hark the Herald: A Christmas Nativity Memory

file0002098122241We bustled around in the basement of the church, little children fluttering in our Christmas nativity costumes.  I probably did flutter since, as one of the younger children, I was cast as one of the multitude of angels who appeared before the shepherds.  All we had to do was look cherubic and sing Hark the Herald if we remembered the words.  I wore a white shapeless gown, silver wings, and a halo that wouldn’t stay put.

I remember only bits and pieces of that night.  Many of the smaller angels dreamed of playing Mary or Joseph someday.  Not me.  I wanted to be the herald.  The angel who stepped forward and announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds as they watched over their flocks.  I can still see the girl who acted this part.  To me, she was so much older, but I was maybe three, possibly four, so I’m guessing she might have been thirteen or fourteen.  All I knew was I wanted to announce Christ’s birth to the shepherds and our congregation:

And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:10-14

A few years later, our church quit enacting the Christmas nativity play.  I never got to play the herald, but even today, I still feel the awe I felt over her part in this children’s play.

Maybe that’s why today I want to share Christ’s birth with you.  Why I feel the need to shine His light on the lives of others and help them open their hearts and ears to His remarkable love.

Did you play a part in the nativity as a child?  What part? How did your nativity experience shape your life and faith?