Sunday, December 30, 2007

Book Update

Several of you have sent emails asking what the "heaven" book I mentioned in the last posting is. So, I thought it might be time to go ahead and do another book update. With all that's been happening, my reading has slowed substantially, but it still hasn't come to a halt. Two of the books on this list I haven't actually finished reading, but here we go:

Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter: This was my selection for our book club. It is a kid's book, really, but it is wonderful. I actually retold the entire book to Mom on our last trip to the beach... It's the story of a little Irish orphan boy, filled with valor, a hard work ethic, and love for his "Swamp Angel." The book opens as he is running away from his first job out of the orphanage. He was abused because the plantation owner who hired him didn't know that he was missing an arm. The rest of the story is about how he overcomes his disability, finds "family," falls in love with an unobtainable beauty, and earns the respect of all he meets. It is very touching and has a surprise ending. Porter was also an avid nature lover and this colors the entire novel.

by George Eliot: This is one of the books that I haven't actually finished. I bought an antique copy, and it actually came with two of Eliot's books in one. For this reason, it is HUGE, and I had people at the doctor's office ask me if it was an antique Bible I was reading :) Perhaps it's the daunting size, or maybe the problem is that I watched my BBC movie and ruined all the surprises, but I have had a hard time getting into it. I have never started a book and not finished it, so I will get around to it eventually, but right now I've been too pre-occupied to read a book that isn't going to drag me along with it.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster: Florence in springtime, English countryside, charming little community...this book has a great back-drop. The story, however, is a little on the strange side. This books shows the difference between loving someone from your mind and loving someone from your heart. Unfortunately, my heart never did fall in love with the "hero" of this novel...He was just a little flighty. I would recommend the movie over the book in this case, which is something I rarely would say.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: I LOVE THIS BOOK! My love for reading started as a young girl reading my Mom's old Nancy Drew books. Perhaps that's why there has always been a special place in my heart for the mystery...the twist. This book has all the elements I love: rags to riches love story, English estates, old-world setting, and SUSPENSE. The creepy house matron, Ms. Danvers, is sure to make an ever-lasting impression on your psyche, and there are twists that will make you gasp out loud. I should probably clarify that this is just a Gothic novel and not Stephen King or anything like that. If you've read Jane Eyre, you will see some definite parallels. Rebecca was my favorite book in high school, and re-reading it as a wife was even better.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: First of all, can you tell me how I am supposed to pronounce that author's last name :) There was a very nice black man at Books-a-Million who looked up this book title for me so that I could locate the book by the author's last name. I asked him to repeat it three times, turning more red with each re-pronunciation, until he finally laughed and said, "That girl was one letter off from being really wrong."

I decided to forgo our book club selection of the month because I read the first page and it sounded depressing. I decided there was enough in my life bringing sadness, and I just wanted an easy-to-read page turner to take me into some other fascinating world. I remembered this unusual title being mentioned by one of our book club members, so I decided to give it a go. It was a page-turner, the story line was very clever and must have taken a LOT of planning for the author. I have just still yet to find a book written in the last 15 years, about present-day society, that I would place on a level playing field with the old stuff. This, like most other new stuff I've read, seems to need to use crude language, or sex, or some convention like time traveling, to keep the reader's attention. Something about that just seems plastic to me.

Saying all that, I couldn't put this book down. It may have seemed a little plastic and a little raunchy at times, but the plot was intriguing. Unfortunately, I ran from a book that I thought had a depressing tone, straight into this book where a mother dies of cancer and other death that I hate to give away.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn: I haven't finished this one yet either, but it is fascinating. There is so much that I never knew! Alcorn does a good job of showing different opinions, and then stating his own. Everything (at least so far) has been based on Scripture. Did you know that the heaven that exists now is not the same heaven that we will live in for eternity? Did you know that the verse everyone quotes about there being no more tears or sorrow in heaven is referring to the New Jerusalem, not the intermediate heaven that exists now? Alcorn believes that the Saints (those in heaven now) can see those of us on earth, and they even pray for us. I won't give any more away, but I would highly recommend this book.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where to Now?

Last night I dreamed Mom came back. We said we were going to believe with her until her last breath, and even then we would believe God could raise her from the dead like Lazarus if He wanted. I guess that's why last night I dreamed she was suddenly just hanging out in the house. She was wearing her white beach cover-up, blond hair, smiling, holding Pace and rallying us all to go to the pool and lay out with her. We were all looking at each other like, "Is she serious?" and I asked her if she was sure the sun wouldn't zap her energy too much. We were talking in whispers, not wanting to freak her out because she obviously didn't know that we'd been to her graveside a few days before. I even remember pulling Dad into the garage and asking him if it was really OK to let her lay out. He said, "If that's what she wants, but take her by the doctor first and get her kidneys checked." :) Pretty vivid, huh.

Dreams aside, I realized yesterday that I really do think about her constantly. I woke up, made the bed, walked downstairs, and had part of a conversation before I was jolted by the realization that I hadn't re-remembered that Mom is gone for that 10 minute span. It isn't like I walk around heavy with memories, but everything is tinged by her or the lack thereof. How then am I not depressed? How have I lost my mom, my best friend, my #1 fan (as she proudly named herself), my confidante and not thrown myself into a dark room and locked the door as I would have imagined? The only answers I have been able to come up with are God and your prayers. We all have dark moments... I actually told my aunt at our family Christmas that I just didn't have it in me to smile at everybody...but the moments pass. I tell myself that she's finally WITH Jesus and no memory we could create for her here can compare with the ecstasy of where she is now.

We are all reading a book on heaven, and I think that's helping me too. I've always been big on wanting to SEE where people are so that I can "see" them when I think about them. Is that crazy? I'm pretty sure Jeremiah thinks it is. I had a breakdown a couple of years ago when he told me A) It would be inappropriate for me to be-bop up to the ER so that I could accurately imagine where he was 90% of our life (and watching him do a surgery was even more out of the question) and B) He didn't feel the need to make the hour-long drive out to my work in Wilsonville so that he could "see" what I do (he did drive out there anyway though :)). Anyway, being able to accurately imagine the surroundings of those I care about has always been big to me, and this book is helping me to do that. It's one thing to say she's happy, it's another thing to imagine what she's really DOING up there.

There is one other problem that we all seem to be having and that is being around groups of people again. We don't sit around in the house and mope or anything like that, but there is something hard about seeing people laughing and being "normal" when nothing about our existence is normal anymore. It may not be bad, but it certainly is different...and will never be the same again. I have found myself feeling distant and alone when I am surrounded by people. However, I went to dinner at a friends house tonight and it hardly bothered me at all. I am just praying it will keep getting better.

This is hard to admit, but there is also a kind of relief in my heart. Taylor really hit it when she said that she doesn't know what to do with herself now that there is no worry in the back of her mind. There's been 13 years that we've all been unable to be completely without the fear that God may NOT chose to heal Mom. Now that what we always thought to be the worst has happened, and we've seen that God still more than sustains us, that fear is no more. Even though it makes me feel a little guilty, there is relief in that.

Finally, I want to say that I have been overwhelmed by the posts on this blog. Your love and prayers are so GENUINE and we feel it. OH, how we feel it! The thought that there are "Anonymous" friends out there who have been moved by Mom's life fills my insides with overflowing hope. It helps me to see how much bigger God's plan is than my own.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FROM Glory TO Glory

The picture you are looking at is the last physical vision my Mom had on this earth. A host of people flooding our front yard (and down a side street that you can't see), holding candles, singing carols, and praying for her. After smiling and waving down to these friends, she walked to her bed, laid down, closed her eyes and slipped into another state of consciousness. The next vision she saw was heaven. Mom was permanently healed yesterday morning around 5:45. I was praying and believing that I would be writing on this blog to report an earthly healing to you all. However, that was not God's plan. All I know to say is that we misunderstood, because I know that God is not a man that He could lie (Numbers 23:19).

I have been through many stages over the past weeks. Extreme hope, blindingly painful sadness, numbness, joy, and dream walking. However, yesterday morning I was consumed with an all-encompassing peace. I crept up into Mom and Dad's room around 4:30 yesterday morning (after feeding Mary Aplin). I watched Mom's strained breathing and held Dad's hand for about 30 minutes. Then, I kissed her cheek and whispered, "I love you so bad" (a term that Pace has coined) into her ear. I went downstairs and spent another half hour weeping bitterly to Jeremiah about all of the "last times", and then God wrapped me in peace. We had both been lying there quietly for about 5 minutes when Dad walked in and said, "Your Mom's gone on to glory."

The next hour seems like a dream now, but at the time it was the first moment I had felt real in a long time. I believe God brought that peace to me at the same time he was wrapping her into His arms. I held her hand, because I wanted to feel warmth from her one last time, and we sang "Our God is an Awesome God," because He is. We prayed, and we read from her favorite devotional "Streams in the Desert." It was a message delivered directly to us (if you have it, then check out Dec. 19th). Dr. Edwin came to pronounce her and he prayed with us as well. He shared several words with us, but one thing that really stuck out was him saying that God did not take her until ALL of us were ready. I had really struggled with that issue. Why, if He was going to take her home, had he tarried and left her in pain? I had thought a lot about the cross--the fact that he had allowed his own son to suffer so why did I expect my Mom to be treated differently. I had thought about Him helping me to realize just what suffering was, and what my sins had cost. I had not, however, thought of her suffering as an act of mercy for me. He slowly brought us all to a place where we wanted her to go. Unless He was going to heal her to wholeness instantly, we didn't want her to stay here any longer. For me, I don't think I got there until the moment she left.

So, as we sat there on her bed I looked at my husband, my Dad, my sisters, and I could fill my lungs with cool air and feel real again. The waiting was over. God had finally answered our question, and even though the answer wasn't what we expected, it is the best. I tentatively admitted my supernatural sense of peace to the group. Afraid it might seem callous. But everyone's faces lit up and they admitted feeling the same way. I know there are still going to be hard days. There have already been moments that made me painfully catch my breath...but they are just moments. My overall sense is peace, and I know it is from Him. I can't imagine a better send-off from this life than the one He gave her. And if that's how she left earth, I can only imagine the glory she was welcomed in to.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Candlelight Prayer Walk

I just wanted to share this with all of you. Some people at our church have gotten this together, and we are excited and humbled.

Join us as we come together for a
Candlelight Prayer Walk for Becky Clark

A Time for Faith and Friends
Community-Wide Invitation
Sunday, December 16
7:30 p.m.
Home of Becky & Ken Clark
206 Whatley Drive
Meet at the Westgate Tennis Complex.
Transportation will be provided by Southern Coaches, courtesy of John Adams.
Prayer Walk
Bring a white utility candle.
Upon arriving at the Clark home, we will begin, with candles lit, walking
the block around their home, praying as we circle around.
If you are unable to walk, please join us in prayer outside the Clark home.
Following the initial prayer walk, Dr. Johnny Fain will lead the group in a joint prayer.
Bro. Terry Taylor will then lead the group as we sing Christmas carols.
(In case of rain, please plan to meet Monday, December 17.)
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1