Friday, December 26, 2008

Early this morning, through the haze and fog, the rest of the family loaded up in the car for the trek to Kansas City. I do feel ever so slightly left behind. How must Papa feel? He came looking for me several times during the day, no doubt lonely. I spent the day sorting through, throwing out and cleaning the whole house. It hardly needed cleaned and I’d just been through everything in my room. I’m thankful for the plenty that I have, but I just have too much! Being with Grandma, I’ve felt guilty constantly turning her down for gifts.

“Do you like it?” she asked, displaying her pink and silver china. It was very nice china. Not really my style, even for china, but still very nice. I knew what she was really asking and hastened to assure her I liked it, but didn’t want any china. I just don’t. Ever. Why in the world would I want a fancy set of dishes that I might use a couple of times a year, but when I do have to treat like…well, china. Not to mention all the space they take up for having little real purpose. No, Grandma darling, I’m just not a china person. I’ll pencil myself in for a nice set of stoneware or something and a pile of plastic for kids and fun times and that will do it for me, thank you. Papa beats me out on practicality, though, with his affinity for white Corelle. Color me something a mite more cheery, please. Useful, yes. Colorless? I hope not. Poor Grandma. I think she must have offered me half a million different objects, all of which I attempted to turn down graciously. She must think I’m the most persnickety person ever. I know friends have often lamented their inability to find me something appropriate. The mainstays of womanhood—jewelry, lotion, perfume, knick-knacks, purses, candles, decorative dishes, even flowers and candy—all of it is wasted upon me, I fear. Ah, but kind well-wisher, simply find me a good book or a box of fine tea and I will love you forever.

Or a nephew or niece. That’s always a winning choice of gifts. Our Christmas package arrived from Nathaniel and Lauren and I had strict instructions to try to get Mom and the crew on the phone while Papa opened it. Which I did. The ultrasound was taped to the back of Michael Card’s new CD. The family was delighted, but not terribly surprised. After all, Nathaniel had seemed terribly anxious for us to get this package. And he’d dropped hints like, “I think you’ll like it,” and “It’s something Lauren and I made.” Lauren’s mom cried when they told her. Her dad punched Nathaniel in the stomach and said, “What are you doing getting my daughter pregnant?!” Then he laughed. First grandbaby on both sides. This will be one spoiled baby. I’m betting on red hair and brown eyes.

We interrupted our quiet day of study and cleaning for an appointment with Kelley, the realtor who sold us our house. The mission: to look over a property in which Glenn and his family are very interested. Snatching up my camera, I followed Papa outside and nearly rear-ended him when he stopped abruptly. “Do you have any keys on you?” I grinned sheepishly. Oddly, I had contemplated my key ring long and hard and finally opted for leaving them lying placidly in my desk drawer. Apparently he had done the same. There we stood, looking at our feet, locked out of the house with no keys to the pick-up either. And the hidden rock with the hidden key proved to be better hidden than either of us remembered. Finally a phone call to Josiah revealed the hiding place—in the shop cabinet of all places—and we retrieved the keys and went on our merry way. I’m not entirely sure Mom was wise when she chose to leave me home to take care of Papa. He and I are two pleas in a pod. For some reason the whole house filled with smoke this morning, thanks to the fire place in the living room, and neither of us could tell why. And I completely forgot there was such a meal as lunch until he came looking for me, his tummy growling like a cornered grizzly.

The house proved to be Arkansas epitomized. At least four-score and twenty outbuildings on ten acres, with a home about half built. But it might suit the Schriebers just fine and we told them so. It’s always difficult to try to render judgment for someone else. I’m not certain I know what they would and wouldn’t like. “It’s spacious,” I told Glenn on the phone. “And seemed very solid, structurally.” Like I know anything. I didn’t even think to check the plumbing.

One last project called my name when we arrived home and I wouldn’t have heard my phone ring except the vibration alerted me. “Aw,” I thought, for once in the mood to chat with some unknown friend, “I wonder who is calling me?” I whipped my phone out of my pocket and read: Taylor. Nevermind. I do believe Josiah makes and receives at least as many calls on my phone as I do.

A quiet day like ours would be incomplete without a sudden burst of activity on the telephone. Sure enough, come supper time, suddenly the whole world remembered our number and decided to find out if it was still connected. Probably the most interesting was ZW from Washington (as he told me), a grandson of a friend of Grandma's, living in Fayetteville and very lonely. “Something bad” happened to his wife, by some other man, while he was overseas in the military, he told us, and she wound up divorcing him because she couldn’t view a man the same again. Then he was in a terrible car wreck and now has a back that barely supports him. He moved here to be near his daughter. And he’s been feeling pretty down-low and lonely. It must have taken some courage to call some complete strangers just because your grandma recommended it. Or some sheer loneliness. What a sad story. He can’t be very old and already his life is ruined. Or so it seems. What might the Lord have yet in store for him?

Isn’t that the truth for all of us? Don’t we all have ruined lives? Even the most picture perfect person is empty without the filling of the Holy Spirit. Broken. Helpless. Wounded. Fallen. Fearful. Deserted. Hopeless.

Ah, but the Great Physician heals all wounds and brings beauty from ashes. I’m clinging to that promise for tonight and for every night to come for the rest of my life—until I see Him face to face and He wipes away every tear.

See this fallen world is wounded,
Bleeding, broken, stained and scarred.
Yet Thou knowest all our frailty
For Thy body, too, was marred

Beyond beauty, beyond grace.
This fallen world tore Thy back, Thy hands, Thy feet, Thy face.

Lost in anger, pain and sorrow,
Each wounded woman, each scarred man
Lashes out in tiger-fury
And drives each nail in Thy hand.

Beyond beauty, beyond grace
This fallen world tore Thy back, Thy hands, Thy feet, Thy face.

That first wound that grew and festered
Passed from Adam’s sin to Cain’s
Each single sin a foul rejection
Each wound a deepening, spreading stain.

Until the climax of this sickness
Cried “crucify!” in wounded rage.
The greatest wounds, the cruelest sorrow
Could heal the pain of every age.

Beyond beauty, beyond grace
This fallen world tore Thy back, Thy hands, Thy feet, Thy face.

Wounded for this world’s transgressions,
Scourged to purge away our sin
By Thy wounds, our own are healed,
By Thy piercing, we are sealed,
By Thy death, the cure revealed:

Beyond beauty, beyond grace
Thou rose and conquered sin and death to heal the human race.

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