Heaven bound

Today I learned that my Aunt Eva Page died last night. I know she is with her Lord and Savior and no longer struggles with earth-bound woes. She had congestive heart failure and for more than a year, struggled to do the simplest tasks.

Even so, I miss her. Her entire family will miss her presence, I am certain. She left a sweet aroma on this earth and memories in the hearts of all who knew her.

About an hour after I learned of her death, the mail arrived with a letter from my Uncle Walter, her husband, whom I wrote about in an earlier post. It was a copy of two pages from a newsletter from the assistive care place they live. I sobbed at the irony that I would receive this the day after Aunt Eva passed on. But I smiled through my tears as I read the details of their lives so often missed by children but appreciated when one is an adult.

March 1, my aunt and uncle celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. I believe their love sustained them throughout those years. Aunt Eva was born in North Carolina and I loved to hear her say my name, “Elizabeth,” with the Southern accent emphasis on the second syllable. I called it her “soft, southern accent” in my story about regaining my hearing with a cochlear implant. I could hear these nuances again and her voice was one I loved.

She welcomed everyone into her home with a gracious and loving spirit. I told her more recently that I loved that she always offered me iced tea when I was a girl. “It made me feel so grown up!” I shared with her. She laughed.

One visit, she asked me if I liked brown cows.
“The drink?” I asked.
“Yes! Root beer and vanilla ice cream,” she said.
“Yum! Yes I love them,” I said.
“Then let’s have one.” And she proceeded to make them and we sat on their screened porch and enjoyed the sweet treat. Only good memories.

When my cousin, Tom Page, was married, we drove to Michigan for the ceremony. The reception had dancing and my husband and Aunt Eva danced and had a great time! In the newsletter my uncle sent, it is telling of a nursing school dance he was invited to in the late ’30s. My aunt was a nursing student at Winston Salem Hospital and Walter was working at the YMCA.  In part it reads:

“…during the Paul Jones musical chairs selection, he partnered pretty Eva who was a terrific dancer. She was not impressed. The next day, while walking down the street, she spotted Walter. To avoid him, she ducked into a department store but Walter beat her to the elevator and persuaded her to go on a date with him.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

In her later years, she lost much of her sight to macular degeneration but I didn’t see or hear any complaints.

In the last 10 years, I had the blessed experience of getting to know both of them on an adult level. Again, I liked what I saw and gravitated to their home whenever possible. Recently, talking with Uncle Walter, I told him I was so glad we got to know each other and spend time together as adults. He agreed and now I am learning once again, don’t delay.

Time is of the essence to let those in your life know you love them. Today I am thanking God for my Aunt Eva, praying for the family left behind and remembering the blessings she brought to so many people throughout her life.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  II Corinthians 2:14-15

L-R: Liz, Uncle Walter, Aunt Eva in 2008

Break of day

Psalm 46:5 was part of our Sunday school study this week. The NIV version uses “break of day”:

5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

The King James version reads:
5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The English Standard version reads:
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Be sure and read the entire chapter of Psalm 46 for the beautiful messages for God’s people during times of trouble.

When of think of the term “break of day” or “morning dawns,” I think of a new start. I have another day to do God’s Will for my life and to make amends for anything left undone or done poorly.

When I see the sunrise on the horizon, whether it is in the city, near the ocean, or in the mountains, I see beauty and quiet. A new beginning. When we hold a newborn child, it reminds us of new beginnings and fresh life. It might remind us of our life and make us think about what yet needs to be done.

The pastor also spoke in his sermon “Work While it is Day,” referencing John 9:1-7, of how we should not waste time in doing God’s work. None of us know the time when Jesus will come again and we must be ready.

So when the sun rises each day, I urge you to think on  your life about what is important — what is urgent. Thank God each day that shines on you for his light and love. Ask him what he wants you to do that day and listen. He will speak to you whether by an inner voice, a phone call from someone, a letter received–or in this day, an e-mail–but in a way you will understand. Take the time to listen. Quiet your life enough that you can hear when God gives you guidance.

Pleasing aroma of Christ

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  II Corinthians 2:14-15

My Uncle Walter used to smoke cigars. As a child, he was the only person I knew who smoked cigars, so it was a unique – if not odd – aroma to me. Whenever I smelled cigar smoke, I thought he was nearby. I remember one time in particular when I was at a school football game to hear my older brother play in the marching band. I smelled cigar smoke and distinctly remember looking everywhere for my uncle, to no avail.

When we think of aromas, usually it’s with a pleasant memory of sweet scents—flowers, fresh air, perfume, home cooking, coffee brewing, or whatever each of us loves to have pass by our noses.

Cigar smoke is probably not what we would call a pleasant aroma but in my childlike mind it was, since it was attached to my uncle, whom I love. Not too long ago, I shared this with my now 94-year old uncle and he laughed heartily saying he was glad he quit smoking years ago.

According to Scripture, “we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” How are we to be this pleasing aroma? Certainly this has nothing to do with scents that may be associated with our presence but more about the Christian testimony that is present in our lives.

My hope is that my life leaves a sweet memory in people’s lives; when something reminds them of me, they will look around only to find it wasn’t about me, but about the message of the love of Christ. About passing on this love and sharing what Christ did for each of us.

Thinking back on the people who had the most impact on my faith, I remember demonstrated in each person the things listed in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control…”

Years ago I wrote a song about this Scripture. One verse goes:

“The fruits of the spirit are a gift from our God,
We must be willing to receive the blessings of the heart.
Just close your eyes and say to him,
‘Let me be your own,’
and our loving God will hear you and you’ll never be alone.
Love and joy, grace and peace—
The world will not receive us but we still must let it shine…”

All my life, I have never been alone. God has sent people into my life to be his sweet aroma; to spread the Good News in front of me. But it was up to me to receive it, learn, and grow from it. I decided to be “one being saved” instead of “one of those who are perishing.” In the same light, I want everyone in my life to be “one being saved” as well.

We can decide today how we are going to be “the pleasing aroma of Christ” and what will linger when we are gone, either from a place or from this life on earth.

Ideas never stop

Once a writer, always a writer. My mind seldom shuts down and ideas seem to stream into my brain. When I know God is inspiring me with something new, it’s exhilarating and I can’t wait to see where the ideas lead.

Recently I was going through all the newspaper stories I saved from my reporting days from 2000-early 2003. I found myself saying, “I wonder how she is today?” Then the inspiration hit. 10 years later – then and now. The 17-year old valedictorian who had dreams — did she fulfill any?

The list goes on.

Then I realized that I interviewed most of these people while I was deaf and prior to my first cochlear implant. Another angle to think about. But more than anything, my curiosity about these interesting people was the catalyst for coming up with the idea. Next I had to contact them. Thank God for the Internet for looking for people; it is making this task easier.

Since 9/11 happened 10 years ago, that is another angle for the book. But since it obviously would not be published this year, that won’t be the main theme of the book.

Stay tuned for more updates on my newest project.

If you were interviewed by me in this time frame, I hope you will leave a note so I can talk with you.

Thanks for listening!

Why orange?

Orange is the color selected by the National MS Society for its signature color. It creates urgency and stands out in a world where so many other colors represent so many other things. Through research, the National MS Society has learned that orange is optimistic, contemporary, and cutting edge. It’s also a color that people with MS find highly readable and be become a symbol for MS around the world.

This makes perfect sense to me. But, on a personal note, it’s my grandson Andrew’s favorite color! (smile)