Sunday, August 23, 2015

Standing in the need of prayer

Maybe I'm finally, truly putting my faith in God. Time will tell. I pray that God will find me faithful. I am truly unworthy of another chance. But the Father runs to embrace His prodigal children, even if they only come to their senses and repent because they can no longer deceive themselves about the pain their choices are causing so many people. 

I'm grateful to God. And I'm praying in faith that His sovereign love, mercy and grace can heal and protect and raise up all standing in the need of His mercy, love, grace and healing. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

‘Just a Few of Our Favorite Things’

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Tribute to Mom (Alice Davidson)

Aug. 16, 2015

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The tune was “Edelweiss,” but the inspiration was “The Sound of Music” and “My Favorite Things” or, more accurately, Our Favorite Things About Mom.

And it became clear pretty quickly they wouldn’t fit nicely into a few rhymed couplets. And thus we get the story behind the song.

The question that was asked: What are some of your favorite things about Mom?

So, on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Alice Ruth Siegmund Davidson (Mom) ... a celebration of family, faith and friends ... inspired by the sweet music of life that has flowed from her heart and soul:

Here are “Just a Few of Our Favorite Things” about her.

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UNCONDITIONAL LOVE – Seeing the best, never giving up: In her parents, siblings and extended family of origin ... In the family she married into … In the family she and Daddy gave birth to and that continues to flourish and grow through new generations.

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If she ever feels disappointment, she quickly or slowly lets it go. (I may think I disappoint her sometimes, but when I express this, she quickly convinces me otherwise.) I know of only a few grudges she ever held for long, and I doubt she holds any now. 'Taint worthwhile, I can imagine her saying.

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Singing in the car. Taking us to church and making that a life priority for us.

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Stressing the importance of education and knowing that she thought we were smart and didn't hesitate to tell others. I also thought I had the prettiest mom when I was in school and I still do. I had family, faith and friends put on her cake, what seemed to me to be her priorities.

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Morning walks on the farm, folksy Facebook posts. … the bread and the special homecooked meals. … windmills and wildflowers …

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Home movies, “pink things” perms. Though the last is not really a favorite. Just something I remember ;)

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Appreciation for reading (books, newspapers, the Bible, Sunday school lessons and other inspirational and faithful devotions).

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Sunday dinner or picnics after church at the roadside park between Muenster and St. Jo. … Coming home from church to the smell of roast in the oven, with onion-mushroom gravy. Mashed potatoes (the real ones, not those from a box!!!) … Lots of fruit cocktail cherry jello. … fried Spam (as opposed to the dreaded plain Spam); but what I really liked was the pan-fried ham and anything smothered in cream of mushroom soup.

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Mom could cut a chicken into about 20 pieces. I didn’t know you could cook one in halves or even quarters until I was probably a teenager.

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I love that she was born into the Siegmund family and that she married into the Davidson family, with rural and small-town Texas roots. Era, Muenster, Hood, Walnut Bend, Hayes, Marysville, St. Jo, Gainesville. She enjoys traveling and experiencing other places, but she’s still on the farm! And yet, I think if she had been born into a different set of circumstances but with the same people, she would have made just as much of it and we would still have the same values!!!

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Substance over style. And yet, so much style! Through it all, a smile.

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Always there. Always fair.

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I don’t know whether I knew this growing up, but as an adult, I know that Mom has no favorites – or we all are her favorites. Her unconditional and complete love and appreciation for each of us (and the grandkids and great-grandkids and all the spouses) continues to grow.

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A peacemaker with a smile.

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Willing to help, even if it takes a while!

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So much patience and acceptance.

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A recent comment from Mom on Facebook, after a gorgeous picture was posted from her young-adult days: She got around, in a good way!

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Smart. Beautiful. Wise. Wry. Happy. Resourceful. Helpful. Persevering. Respectful and respected.

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Encouraging – our greatest cheerleader!

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Not afraid to share wisdom, advice, opinions and maybe some gossip, but always with sensitivity to the situation.

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Willing to back off, let her kids and others have their space and find their way.

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Ability to talk to anyone about anything.

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Unwavering faith and trust in God.

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Perhaps above all, that combination of faith, optimism, confidence, integrity, humility, gratitude and so many other things that looks for, sees and builds up the good in any situation and lets go of the rest. And as a result, it does seem as if it’s all good, that the memories are precious and each new day is a gift filled with promise.

Bless My Mama Forever!

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Tribute to 80 years of Alice

(somewhat to the tune of “Edelweiss”)

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Alice Ruth Davidson:

You’re our Mom and we love you.

Full of cheer – faith, not fear …

There is no one above you!

Cooking and sewing and fixing hair;

Raising six kids, with so much care!

All you’ve done – and you’ve made it fun!

You’re our Mom and we love you!

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Alice Ruth Siegmund Davidson:

80 years God has blessed you.

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend,

Then grand and great – bonds that never end.

Teaching and helping and spreading love,

Seeing the best; never giving up.

Praying and singing; happiness bringing …

We thank God for you forever!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Discipline, devotion and progress not perfection

A week ago Saturday, I briefly pondered a desire to make a fresh start in some areas. Although I didn't get started on the first day of the month, I did by the second, and it has been positive, even as it continues to be a work in progress. 

A key area involves some discipline (which recently was suggested to me could be viewed as devotion) regarding how I eat. Another involves boundaries around work. Despite positive outcomes so far in both areas, it requires new commitment and thought each day. I pray for grace and humility to stay willing and able. 

On the note of devotion, a couple of my devotional readings from the week were helpful. 

Craig Denison's First15 on Monday brought to mind this question with the second of three points in guided prayer:  Wisdom? Or lack of courage?

The point: 
2. Where do you need courage to pursue the life to which God has called you? What is God calling you to today that seems impossible? What has God spoken over  
you in the past that fear has crippled you from pursuing? 

The things I listed included aspects of my way of eating; boundaries around work; housekeeping;  and the need to strive harder to make acts of kindness toward others a higher priority -- speaking and acting in love, to Your glory, Lord

First 15 went on to say: Don't settle for a life of mediocrity today. God has a plan and purpose for everything you do. He longs to turn your relationships, job, finances and passions into good works of eternal significance. His calling will satisfy your heart like nothing else. And the empowerment of his Spirit for his plans will transform you into a passionate, effective and loving man or woman of valor. May you pursue wholeheartedly the life to which you have been called by your loving heavenly Father.

The suggested scripture reading was 1 Peter 2, including this: 
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

I also read something from Jim Denison (Craig's dad), that I almost posted on Facebook, but backed off. Is that wisdom or lack of courage? (Praying to know and do YOUR will, Lord!)

From the Denison Forum for Truth and Culture: Dorothy Sayers, in her classic 1947 essay, "The Lost Tools of Learning," observed that effective learning progresses through three stages. ...

I wonder what Sayers would think of learning in our digital age.  Educators worry that the Internet makes cheating easy, and shortens attention spans, and affects our work ethic.  Most significantly, they note that we don't feel the need to learn information as we once did.  So long as your smartphone is handy, the world is a few clicks away.  But we cannot understand what we don't know.  And we can't apply what we don't understand.

As I once heard Henry Kissinger say, we have more information than ever before, but less wisdom.

These are things I'm very aware of in a time of many emotions regarding deaths, births, milestone birthdays of loved ones, health issues and a neverending desire to improve, to God's glory. But it's still hard to just put down the smartphone, turn off the computer, TV and music, get quiet and try to think or remember or just be. Or better yet: just be still and know God!! Maybe this growing awareness of the need is an important step. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

I didn't even have time to pray

On a Sunday when I set lofty goals for the start of some personal changes, I'm grateful for a kind, perceptive and helpful man from Ardmore in a black Avalanche who happened to be in the west Norman Walmart parking lot when I went to buy groceries after church.  

After sitting in my car awhile, going through several weeks of newspaper coupon (and becoming very aware that despite light morning and midday rain showers, it was getting hot!) I got out and headed to the store. But when I pushed the key button to lock my car, nothing happened. I tried several times, before finally deciding to use my key to lock the door. 

Fortunately, my brain suddenly engaged, and I realized I should make sure my car would start before I bought a bunch of groceries. 

So, I got back in and tried to start it. 
And all it did was click. I started thumbing through the owner's manual trying to figure out what to do, and really could not find anything describing my situation. 

I was just about to call my husband -- who is in New York, by the way -- when a man came to my open car door and asked if my battery had died. I said I didn't know; I just knew my car wouldn't start. 

It turns out he works in an auto parts store and knows a lot about cars. He thought it just needed a jump-start. The space next to my car was vacant, so he pulled in from a couple of spaces down. (I couldn't even get the trunk to open, but he had jumper cables. Later, I realized, yes I could open the trunk, using the key. Ha!)

With juice from his Avalanche, my Mustang started right up. He noted that the cable connections were corroded and suggested I drive around to Walmart's auto service department and get my Walmart battery checked out. So I did, but not before thanking him profusely. 

I told him he showed up before I even had a chance to consciously pray, but I still thanked God for him. (And my husband probably does, too, since he didn't have to try to talk me through this over the phone.)

The Ardmore man had been in Edmond visiting daughter and stopped in Norman on the way. I'm so glad he was here. 

I did not get his name. (That's why I am not a reporter any more -- I hate to intrude and ask for details. I don't know where that reluctance comes from. I admire people who can easily engage and get to know people that way and then remember the details.)

I drove over to Walmart's auto service department and they checked the battery (it's fine, according to the diagnostics) and cleaned the connections. 

Something perhaps worth noting is that the corrosion might have been prompted by all the rain. That's what the Walmart guy said. 

I'm just grateful for the goodness of God and the people He sends my way, especially on this day when I'm trying to make some positive life changes. This wasn't directly among my goals, but awareness of an unexpected blessing is always a good thing.

It also serves as a reminder that God knows what I need before I do. As the lyrics of a worship song that has been with me since Friday go: Be still my soul and know: You are God alone. Stop thinking so much and just let go.

Amen. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A fresh start

It is August. The new month snuck up on me. I really want to make some positive changes, and the start of a new month seemed like perfect timing. But I didn't think of it until the day was half over and I'd already fallen short of the new goals. Oh well. There's always tomorrow!!! 

Remembering Elaine -- but words are inadequate

A week ago today I was in Arkansas. I was on my way there when Mom called and said my sister-in-law Elaine had died. I had just turned off the car radio and run through "On Eagles' Wings" and was singing through it again, wondering if I might have a chance to sing it for Elaine, when Mom called with the news. I was near Wewoka -- about an hour into the 3 1/2 hour drive -- and had to decide whether to turn around or go on. I could not imagine turning around, so when I called my husband, the conversation included whether he would be willing to try to bring the clothes and other items I would need. He graciously said he would, even though we both knew it would involve him having to work through some of my issues (translate: messes) that are very frustrating to him. (It's interesting that I knew she could die at any time, but for some reason I had decided it would not happen that weekend, so I did not bring the extra items.)

How do a 57-year-old husband (my brother, Mike), three daughters ages 16 to 27, a 90-something Mom, plus siblings, and countless friends and extended family say good-bye to a saint on earth? That became the task at hand: finding the ways to let go and honor and remember and grieve and plan and prepare and celebrate and be grateful and stay faithful.

By the grace of God, it all comes together. Flowers. Written tributes. Pictures. Receiving friends and family and their outpourings of love, food and service. 

Underpinning it all is faith, expressed through individual and group prayers and expressions of gratitude and praise to God,  as well as attendance at church on Sunday, a rosary service on Tuesday and a funeral Mass and the graveside rites on Wednesday. 

I stayed from Saturday to Wednesday. I don't know what I was able to do, but I was acting in faith that it was where I was supposed to be, even if as nothing more than a quiet presence. 

Mostly I pray. I prayed and tried to be a friend and presence during Elaine's journey with cancer since late 2013. I continued to this past week and still do now. I don't know what to say or do or write. About the only thing I did with confidence was sing "Trust and Obey," the request of my brother after we had sung it at church Sunday. And even the strength and confidence of singing Wednesday was God, not me. 

I will never understand why a vibrant 54-year-old saint on Earth must leave this life so soon. The magnitude of such a mystery is second only to the great sense of sadness and loss from her physical absence. 

And yet, we know she is very much with us. The faith of my brother and their daughters and her Mom and siblings are an inspiration and example to all. We will remember Elaine and be grateful to God for his rich blessings to and through her and her family. 

And words still seem so inadequate to express all that is in my heart. In fact, they not only seem inadequate, they seem to possibly minimize what I and others have experienced and may now be feeling. 

Lord, I just lift this up to you as I try to preserve thoughts and memories associated with our beloved Elaine.