Special times with Popaw

By now you know that not only was Popaw one of my favorite people, he was also my hero.

Over the next few.weeks, I have plenty of stories to share. This particular story happened within the last three years.

Before Ned’s diagnosis with cancer, Mom.had predominantly been responsible for Popaw’s health care.

Prior to moving him to the assisted living facility, Mom would. commonly meet him at his appointments. However, when he no longer had use of the car, Mom had to take him.

With Ned’s.illness and all.of.his appointments, it became increasingly harder for Mom.to.keep.up.

One day. I announced to.her that I would start.managing his healthcare. It was the one thing I could completely take off her shoulders to allow her focus to be more on Ned. Besides, I reasoned, if something happened to her, I would be the one responsible for him. It just made.sense.

I viewed it as an opportunity to help her and spend some. extra time.with Popaw. I enjoyed his company and he enjoyed mine.

Our first trip to the doctor without Mom would be unique and different for him. He was so accustomed to her taking him, I knew it would be slightly awkward. I decided, on my way to pick him up, to pop in my Selah cd because he would recognize all the Hymns.

In classic Popaw style, he got in my car and immediately began to thank me. ”Honey, I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such good treatment but I sure appreciate you taking care of me.”

After a few minutes of small talk, the car grew silent except for the cd playing. The silence was soon interrupted by a sound I now wish I had recorded. The raspy bass voice of my Popaw singing, ”I sing because I am happy. I sing because I am free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

At that moment, any twinge of nervousness he had about me taking over his care, or any fear I had that I wouldn’t do it the right way was completely absorbed by the fact that we both knew and understood a valuable truth at that moment. God was taking care of both of us.

Can I be really blunt here?

To say I miss this treasure of a human being is an understatement. There will never be another like him. I am thankful I didn’t waste the time of frivolity and that my earlier choices had dictated time I would get to spend with Popaw.

Listen here

Pearls of Wisdom

At the start of this New Year I decided to read through the Bible. It’s something I started doing in January 4 years ago but last year decided to take a break. I’m not telling you this for earn brownie points or praise. It’s been a remarkably exceptional way for me to see things I would otherwise miss in scripture. Which brings me to the point of today’s blog.

Two days ago a verse literally jumped off the page and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, which in turn, caused me to read some commentaries. When a verse does this instantly I know that God is revealing a deep level of truth and insight. It can’t be explained away. And then it also leaves me curious to know why I’ve read over that verse a hundred times and never really seen it. I think it has to do with my heart and when it’s ready to receive a truth from God’s word.

The verse, found in Genesis 35:8, says this, “Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak outside Bethel. So it was named Allon Bakuth” NIV

Upon first glance this doesn’t seem important at all. It’s just talking about a woman named Deborah, who was Rebekah’s nurse and she died and was buried. The one thing I’ve learned the more I’ve studied is that everything in scripture bears significance.

The first thing that struck me was the placement of this scripture. At this point Rebekah is dead. In fact she’s been dead for some time, And somehow Deborah ends up with Jacob, Rebekah’s son. Commentators have varied speculation on how Deborah ended up with Jacob. But she did,

It is speculated that she was probably around 180 years old when she died. She was well-regarded and respected. She brought with her years of wisdom and knowledge for the younger women who were caring for Jacob’s family. She was also well-loved. Jacob called the place of her burial, Allon Bakuth of “oak of weeping”. It was sad day for Jacob and his family when she died.

Think about that for a minute. Deborah most likely was the nurse who came to Canaan with Rebekah when she came to marry Isaac. She had been with the family for many years. She remained with Isaac, even after Rebekah’s death, and then helped Jacob with his large family. She was more like a member of the family, instead of just a nurse.

Think about the impact that Deborah’s life had on this family. She gave up her home to go with Rebekah. She cared for Rebekah, maybe from birth. She was with Rebekah when Esau and Jacob were born. She aided in their care. She cared for Rebekah through her death. Remained faithful to Issac until she was needed by Jacob. That says a lot about her character, even though we know very little about her. I love this because it tells me she took her job seriously. She was fully committed to her calling.

While pondering and reading about Deborah, God reminded me of the precious lady who cared for me. Read her story here My Caregiver

I was reminded of how she loved and taught us. Her wisdom expansive. Her faith so simple and true. Her joy complete. She knew her calling and she did it well. Just like Deborah, Mawmaw’s life impacted ours. She became our family. When Ryan, my oldest son, and I travels from our home in Bremerton, Washington home, she insisted on seeing him. She said to me, “I want to nuss (her word for cuddle and rock) that baby the same way I nussed you.” How could I refuse a request like that?

And so, here she is “nussing my firstborn”. I have now doubt that while she was holding him, she was praying over him. She was, in her mind, singing over and quoting scripture over him. How do I know? She did the same thing for me, my sister and my brother. Oh, how she loved us and loved us well.

Just like Deborah, the day she died was. sad day, But just like Deborah, her pearls of have been passed through generations and will continue to be passed down. Like she would sing, “Oh happy day! Oh happy day, When Jesus “warshed” my sins away. “. Like I said before, a real simple faith, that’s all she had and it’s all she needed to be effective.

We can be effective and influence lives as well. We just have to be dedicated to our calling, knowing and believing that God has us exactly where He wants us for a time such as this.

My Caregiver

I have always been fond of Little House on The Prairie. I love the books as well as the television series. The books varied from the series; however, it was always the appeal of a simple lifestyle that appealed to me. In the deepest part of my heart, the yearning for simplicity has always prevailed. Simple living did not mean that heartache and disappointment were nonexistent; however, it seemed to me that in living simply, peace was found in abundance. Isn’t that what our souls yearns for the most? Peace. The ability to walk through stormy weather and know all will be well. Peace. The ability, when all things around us are falling apart, to hold together. Peace. The unexplainable feeling when you know something is terribly wrong, but you aren’t shaken by it. Peace. Complete rest for our souls. Peace. The unshakeable comfort.

Living simply doesn’t mean that you are simple minded. Living simply means that you get unnecessary, overwhelming distractions out of the way and enjoy the day and all it has for you. Throw off things that hinder peace in your life. Say “no” to things that do not bring peace. Rid yourselves of unnecessary obligations that create worry and stress. Make the choice to rid yourself of things that are not helpful to you or what is helpful others. Lysa Terkeurst says, “Wisdom makes a decision today that will still be good for tomorrow.” By doing this, we are allowing God a big opportunity to show up and show out.

From my earliest recollection of her, she exemplified peace. She sang “There will be peace in the valley”. Peace was there. All around. From the positioning of their quaint house perched atop a knoll, to the rolling pasture complete with livestock, to the smell of bacon frying in the early morning hours, to the multitude of African violets in a magnificent array of blooms…always- every aspect of her life spoke peace. Peace did not allude her. Peace was hers. It belonged to her in every sense of the word. She was not wealthy by the worlds standards but she was blessed with a wealth of dear precious ones who loved her and loved her deeply. I was one of the fortunate ones to know her. I knew her well. From the time I was 3 months old until I was 15, she was my care giver. She was, to me, another grandmother. Although I had biological grandparents and she had biological grandchildren. She adopted me and I adopted her. She was as close to me as my own and I as close to her as her own.

One of the most fascinating things about her was that she was born in 1903 and her precious husband in 1900. Keeping up with their ages was always fun for me and easy. He was as old as the current year and she was 3 years less. She began taking care of me when she was 65 years old. By the age of 2, she had taught me many things about God’s word through her singing as well as scripture. Every day she would stand me in a chair and we would recite, John 3:16. Every day at nap time, she would rock me and sing to me, mostly hymns, but sometimes lullabies. One of her favorite Hymns was, “Revive Us Again”. She loved the chorus and most days she would even sing the chorus as she watered and tended her African violets. Maybe that’s the reason for their ever present display of beauty. The chorus is, “Hallelujah! Thine the glory. Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Thine the glory. Revive us again.” One day when I was about 3, I was at home singing, as I often did. My mom was listening and heard me singing the chorus but I using a heavy “r” at the end of Hallelujah. She asked, “Why are you singing it that way?” I replied, “That’s the way Mamaw Gillespie sings it.” She said, “Hallelujah doesn’t have an r at the end.” The next day, I walked straight into Mamaw’s house and told her, “My Mama said you were singing the song wrong. Hallelujah doesn’t have an “r” at the end.” I can’t recall her response but I can tell you it didn’t change the way she sang the song. Not one bit. Not ever. Why? It didn’t matter to her. Her heart was so full of love for the Lord and what He had done for her. She didn’t care. All that mattered to her was that she was singing to Him and asking on a daily basis that He revive her and give her “peace in the valley” or “peace like a river.” Her songs were prayers for her soul. She didn’t have to have the words perfect. Her heart was inclined, or leaned into, God and that’s all that really mattered. You see she just chose to be there in the moment. Her life was moment by moment. Day by day. I would venture to say she probably sang, “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.”

Her life was a series of wise choices day after day.  She knew her place and she knew what she was best suited to do.  She chose to say “no” to things that would hinder her from being the best caregiver day after day, year after year.  She was a woman who exuded confidence in her ability to care for her babies.  That is what she did best.  To say I’m lucky to have had her in my life would be an understatement.  Blessed doesn’t even seem accurate.  I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness that I was hers and she was mine.

***This post was originally written on another blog I started several years ago and failed to keep it going.  Two people reminded me in the past two days about this and oddly enough, it’s just what I needed to be reminded of today.***