When strangers speak the truth


Have you ever had someone who doesn’t really know you, say something very profound to you?

And have you noticed that when that happens, that person usually is clueless as to the depth of the statement s/he has just made?

If you answered yes to these questions, you will understand what happened to me today at the Apple Store.

I had scheduled a One-on-One appointment with a skilled Apple technician because as of Wednesday, I became the proud owner of a brand new aluminum 15″ MacBookPro. This computer purchase was necessitated because I was never the owner of the MacBookPro I have been using years with my job.

But when I lost my job in June, essentially I lost all rights to that computer. It wasn’t mine, was never mine and they deserved to get it back. It’s as simple as that. On this cloudy summer day, I brought both computers to the Apple Store to make sure I had transferred all the personal stuff from the old computer to my new “baby.”

Austin, the Apple guy, guided me through the process and everything was going quite well. I had been looking forward to the appointment and getting the job done. With great ease, Austin helped me and erased non-work items off the computer.

And then he said it…

“There won’t be any trace of you on this computer.”

And with a nod of my head, Austin clicked a few more things and 1,866 items began to disappear before my very eyes.

I choked back the tears. I thought to myself, “Don’t cry. Don’t. Cry. You’re at the Apple Store for Pete sake! Puh-lease!”

So I adjusted my emotional big girl panties and didn’t cry. Wow, that wasn’t easy! There were some quiet and awkward moments where neither Austin nor I spoke.

Photo flashback of my previous life. I was blessed to do this and relieved when it was all over. Eight years was enough.

Photo flashback of my previous life. I was blessed to do this and relieved when it was all over. Eight years was enough.

I composed myself and watched the computer transition from being something I used and personalized to being just another piece of work equipment ready for someone else. Austin was right. There isn’t any trace of me on the computer.

I hope I will be remembered for the work I did and the love I poured into it. But more importantly, as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, oh how I want to have lived a life that matters. I pray that the traces of me I leave behind are worthy of the life I was given.

Psalm 103:15-16 and verse 22
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.

Being still


Now that I’m back home after a great vacation, I face an empty nest. The guys started school today and Nate leaves for West Point on Sunday. It’s the first time in my life where my kids are at school, the hubs is at work and I’m home without babies or a job.

It reminds me of the time when my youngest OS was old enough to go to a gymnastics class by himself. I had longed for the day when Ike was old enough for me to not be there. When that day arrived; however, soon after dashing to the grocery store, I vividly recall pushing the empty cart along the aisles at Kroger and fighting back the tears. My orange-haired, freckle faced toddler was not squeezing me. Instead my stupid purse filled the place where Ike used to be. Oh, how I loved madly embracing that cherub mid-turn at the end of each grocery aisle and I didn’t care who saw us or what they thought! (Tears are falling from my eyes just thinking about this…)

But here I am now, a chapter of my life is unfolding. I am adrift and possess a blank canvas of opportunity. Oh, the possibilities!

The varied bass tones which fill my home will be making noise elsewhere. I feel the void and the quiet. Everyone is going forward. Where am I going? I am not going back to a familiar job that I loved and was pretty good at. It is weird, because about this time last year, I was busy scheduling speaking opportunities. Now that season of life is over. Poof. Just like that. I am relieved because the work was so draining and sad because I loved the kids and the message we shared. If I could color my feelings, they would be a dark mustard (for the sad feelings) and a streak of pink (representing excitement.) Yes, it is an awkward and ugly collection of hues.

So what is next? I’m taking a Wednesday morning Bible study and I’m going to lead a girls’ Bible on Monday night. That much I know. And honestly with this extra time I now have, my house can be cleaner, I could be leaner, that list of improvements, both personal and otherwise, is long.
Many Bible verses pop into my head but this one has echoed within me…from Psalm 46…

Be still and know that I am God

That’s where I am, keepin’ it real…

When things change, sometimes it hurts


It can be a strange thing when verb tenses change. Often it has been my experience that verb tense changes signify a modification in a situation or a person. I’m sure I use them all the time without a wince or a struggle and only notice when verb tenses change if something or someone’s situation is different and I wish it had not changed. Often when I do perceive this verb tense change thing, I find myself hurting because I want the verb tense to have remained the same. (Has any of this made sense???) 

Well, this week, I have experienced two significant verb changes. Something that is, isn’t. Something that was, wasn’t. Something you have, you don’t anymore.

On Monday, I lost my job. 

On Sunday, my husband lost his much loved uncle. 

After 7 1/2 years, the job I loved and poured myself into with every fiber of my being, is now gone. In a split second, after an emotional phone call from my boss, I experienced that verb tense thing I hate. I work in non-profit ministry. Correction, I worked and I was blessed to be around people I treasured.  When donations went down to an all-time low, a difficult decision was made and I, along with several other co-workers were laid off. It happened that fast. I harbor no hard feelings (at least at this point) with the decision. It’s just that I’m trying to get used to this new way of defining myself. Who am I now? 

There have been countless times when I have wanted to quit and I have dreamed of this day. When I have been overwhelmed by annoying students or heavily burdened by a teenager’s story. When a high school girl is picking her nose and eating it! the entire time we are speaking, um, yeah, I want to quit! When a skinny, pale-skinned teenager is bent on interjecting a sarcastic answer every time I speak, you bet, I want to hand in my notice! But then, there are times when a student is crying and her tears have soaked through my shirt, that I praise the Lord because I am there to encourage and love. Or the kids who write to me afterward and say we have changed their lives. Nothing can beat those moments. My job, working with teens and meeting so many in the midst of regretful choices and pain, has been exhausting on every level. Y’all, I have seen and heard more things than I ever imagined and most of it wasn’t pretty. But it was my mission field (in addition to my own OS and DH, that is).

But it’s that verb thing that is haunting. I found myself trying to figure out what verb to use today. I was talking about my boss, was he now “my former boss?” It seriously stings just to type those words. 

This is coupled with the fact that we are driving out of state for a funeral. On Sunday, my husband called to see how Uncle Bill was doing. We all knew he was seriously ill and would not survive much longer. When Aunt Emmy answered the phone, she told us his grave condition would soon end. We talked about Uncle Bill as we drove to the farmer’s market and then, about an hour later, when we were at home, Aunt Emmy called. Uncle Bill was gone. 

I began unloading the bounty from the farmer’s market and realized, crud, here goes that stupid verb tense change thing again. 

Uncle Bill was a heck of a guy. He was into everything. An avid Boy Scout leader, a researcher, very active in his church, he was a microbiology professor at Bowling Green University, he was a husband of 56 years and a father of four. And he was quirky. Like you’ll never meet another Uncle Bill. They broke the mold, as people would say. For example, he and Aunt Emmy were fascinated with Civil War medicine and attended conventions and seminars about it. Did you even know there were Civil War medicine conventions?? On their way to these conventions, they would stop by and visit. It’s there that I got to meet and love good ‘ole Uncle Bill. 

When Mark’s mom (Uncle Bill’s sister) died about 15 years ago, I gave the tearful eulogy. As I recall, he was the first person to come up to me afterward and give me a hug. I will never forget his kindness.

So in the span of 48 hours, I have reasons to weep over loss and verb tense change. We are on our way to Ohio for the services. I have Kleenex, family, memories and my Jesus to see my through.