From This Moment On-A Beautiful Tapestry of Life

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From this moment on,
Life will never be the same.
Broken hearts still beat.
Beauty still exists.
God is still love.
All weave a tapestry of
a beautiful life.

D. Elaine Wood-Lane
12/8/16

30 years ago on December 24, 1986 I lost the second of two my two brothers. It had been a really rough year and became completely unbearable on Christmas morning around 7:30 AM when my father called to let me know we had lost Joe in a horrendous, freakish car accident the night before. From that moment on, my life was completely different. I was no longer a 25 year old young mother of two whose primary worry was when to wake my two tiny sons for Christmas morning. I had survived many difficult things in 1986, but the news of my brother’s death cracked everything wide open. It is amazing, truly, what a heart can survive and what can grow in the cracks of our hearts.

On May 27, 1986 my 69 year old mother had a massive heart attack. It took two ambulances, four emergency medical technicians and a full hour to stabilize her enough to transport her to the hospital. I called my brother, Joe, and my sister, Judy, who both lived in the area, to let them know that Mother’s life was hanging by a thread and then prayed, prayed, and held onto Daddy’s hands like the life lines they were. We held onto each other’s hands. Joe and Judy came up to the hospital as soon as they were able and we all spent the night moving back and forth between the CCU waiting room and the garish lights of the cafeteria. In 1986 you could still smoke inside certain areas of the hospital, primarily the cafeteria, so we made regular trips there. You see, everyone in my family, except me, smoked at that time. In the morning, we had to make a decision to have an arterial line put into Mother’s upper chest so the doctors would have direct, immediate access to her heart.

Two days went by and Joe, Judy and I decided it would be wise to ask our brother John, in California, and our sister, Betty, also in California, to come to Texas and join us in our vigil. Betty was unable to come at that time, but John was able to come. John himself had been fighting cancer, but was supposed to be in remission so we were delighted to learn he could make the journey to Texas. Two miracles occurred when John came to Texas. First, Mother’s condition improved greatly. Second, after a seeming lifetime of bitter sibling rivalry, my two brothers reconciled. John and Joe made their peace and our hearts were greatly encouraged that things were getting better. Over the course of John’s visit, however, I realized that John’s cancer was not in remission and that he was in very bad shape. He begged me not to tell anyone else in the family. He came to say his goodbyes to us and he wanted it to be a time of joy and pleasantness rather than doom and gloom. I kept his promise and told no one.

About a month later, Mother had to have quadruple coronary bypass surgery in order to not only keep her alive, but to give her a chance to thrive once more. She survived the surgery and once again we family members made frequent trips from the CCU waiting room to the cafeteria.

On August 24, 1986 we received word that John had lost his battle with cancer and was gone. Joe cried more than anyone. He had just regained his brother, only to lose him less than 70 days later. Daddy and Joe traveled to California to attend John’s funeral and to say their goodbyes. That trip was remarkable because it was the only time my daddy ever traveled by airplane anywhere and it was the last time Joe flew anywhere.

Several months went by with many changes occurring within those months. My husband, Craig, my sons and I moved to a small town in the Texas panhandle and started a new life when my husband started working for the United States Postal Service. It was the first time I had ever lived so far away from my parents. Also, our family slowly started to heal from Mother’s cardiac issues and John’s death.

Life was looking up! My husband and I bought a lovely old Victorian home in Memphis, Texas. I was able to stay at home with our sons, ages 2 and 1, and finally, we had enough money that we didn’t have to decide who we were going to pay each month for the essentials of life.

Christmas Eve rolled around and I was so excited because my mother-in-law and her sister and sister’s husband came to Memphis to celebrate Christmas with us. My baby sons were excited because it was the first time they were even aware there was such a thing as Christmas. I remember for Christmas Eve supper I made homemade cheese soup and rolls. I was feeling so grownup and domesticated and…happy, truly happy.

I started experiencing extreme right flank pain around 7:45 that evening, immediately after supper. I ran a fever, started passing blood, and felt like I was dying. My happiness had evaporated within 10 minutes. I desperately wanted it back, but could not seem to shake my pain and malaise. For the remainder of the evening and throughout the long Christmas Eve night, I was in agony. Nothing seemed to help. I finally drank a gallon of half apple cider vinegar and half water mixed together in complete desperation. My baby sons were going to have their first fun Christmas morning and by golly I wasn’t going to let anything spoil that!

Finally, around 6:30 on Christmas morning, I passed what seemed to be a large kidney stone and the pain was gone. I went to bed completely exhausted. Around 7:15 AM our phone rang. I answered the phone to hear Daddy say, “Is Craig there? I really need to speak to Craig.” As Daddy asked these questions, his voice cracked. I immediately was alerted that something was terribly wrong. After a few minutes of wrangling, Daddy finally spoke the fatal words that changed my life forever, “Elaine, well, Joe has been in a terrible car accident. Please let me speak to Craig.” “Is Joe ok? How badly was he hurt? Daddy, please just tell me!” “Elaine, sugar, I’m afraid Joe didn’t make it. He was killed instantly.” Suddenly my hands were no longer strong enough to hold the telephone. As I dropped it, Craig picked it up and I started keening and wailing in agony. How could my beloved Joe be gone? It just couldn’t be true!

You know how you always read in novels that the hero or heroine has gone numb from grief and shock? I always thought that was pure hyperbole until that morning. After my initial wailing and sobbing bout, I realized I had a job to do. It was still Christmas morning and my boys were expecting fun! By golly they were going to get it too!  So, I took some deep breaths, wiped the tears off my face and went upstairs to wake up my babies. We had a great Christmas, from what I understand. Apparently I did all the appropriate things, but  I remember none of them.

So, where does that leave things now, 30 years later and staring Christmas Eve down as it looms closer and closer? The pain is still there. I still miss my brothers. In addition, I miss my sister Betty and my parents, all of whom I’ve lost in the intervening 30 years. My life never has been the same since Christmas day 1986. However, it hasn’t been all horrific either. I’ve learned we have moments of great joy and moments of great sorrow in life. They don’t balance each other out. They never become equals. What they do accomplish is weave a tapestry of a life wherein we know to cherish the joyous moments, however brief they may be, to know with confidence God will assist us through the agonizing moments, and the rest of the moments are full of the dreams that become beautiful memories.

The most important things I’ve learned from that fateful moment on December 25, 1986 is to love and trust God, to love people and tell them so, and to love life. There is no other way to find peace in this wild and crazy tapestry we call life.

Joy

My eyes view beauty through tears.

Yet my heart is joyful.

Golden leaves peek through.

D. Elaine Wood-Lane 9/11/16

My past week has been full of everything you can imagine. In the midst of it, I attended the memorial service for a very young poet friend who was so talented it blew me away. At the service, the same words were repeated so often about this young man: “Blake was so calm, quiet, and wise.” The memorial service itself was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever attended. Family and friends spoke about him and most of them read one of his poems after they spoke. It was a gathering of love, sorrow and even joy for having known such a remarkable young man. As I walked out of Shove Chapel at Colorado College, my eyes full of tears and my heart aching with loss, I looked up at this view and it took my breath away. It’s a perfect visual representation of what lay in my heart. Yes, there is darkness, sometimes seemingly overwhelming in our lives, yet if we have God with us, we also have glimpses of golden joy. Underneath the photo below is a daily devotional from a daily meditation book I read. It so perfectly expresses my underlying joy that I had to share it. The book in question is called, “Be Still And Know,” and was compiled and edited by Michelle Winger.

 

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Do no grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Joy is not necessarily happiness. Happiness is dependent on circumstances; joy is not. Happiness is fleeting; joy is constant. Happiness disappears when trials come; joy grows through troubles. Good times bring happiness and laughter; difficulties bring sorrow and grief, but joy resides beneath.

Joy is not an emotion that can be fabricated or faked. It is a deep-seated sense that all things are well because God is in charge. Joy is expressed in praise, song, laughter, a peaceful countenance, a light in the eyes, or a serenity that belies any adversity. It is the substance of the soul that holds us together as we trust in God, who does all things well. Jesus wants our joy to be full!

Thank you, Jesus, for the joy that gives me strength. I choose today to fill my mind with truth, to think about those things that are praiseworthy, and to trust you fully. With a thankful heart, I choose joy!

Endurance…

My body is tired,
my heart is weak,
yet to God,
more faith I seek.

I’ll not give up,
until my time has come,
my crown I’m given,
and I see the Son!

© D. Elaine Wood-Lane
6/16/16

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Don’t lose heart, dear ones who are struggling so mightily right now, because God holds you in the palm of His hand and will carry you through. No, it won’t be easy, but you are not alone! Look around you and see the troops God has assembled to carry you through this! Family, friends and God are with you to give you courage, strength and endurance.

Peace and love, always,

Elaine

Log Jam

 

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My life is so crowded,
It is jammed like an old dam,
when the river runs faster
than the narrow strait will allow.

Ideas, like logs, get bottlenecked.
Feelings move so swiftly,
it is hard to know which one
to let through first.

Chores stack up like cordwood,
all needing to be burned through,
but it’s hard to know which one
to pick up first.

People, like the ephemera of
the River of Life,
get stuck on the big logs,
awaiting a chance
to move through the dam,
free, happy, healthy,
floating or flowing
as they are meant to do.

Ideas, feelings, chores.
I guess the only thing to do,
like dealing with a jammed up dam,
is to remove the first log
and see what comes next.

Always do the next right thing,
for the person nearest you now.
Love one another.
If you have love,
the next right thing
for the next right person,
will come to you,
and the dam will become unjammed…

© D. Elaine Wood-Lane
6/14/16


With 24/7 news coverage, work, home and family responsibilities, we can easily be overwhelmed. There are too many problems or opportunities for us to be able to focus on what comes next.

I’ve felt a wee bit overwhelmed as this week started with bad news about the shooting in Florida and the realization that so many people could be killed by one man with condemnation in his heart. I want to have all the answers so nothing like this happens ever again. I want to love family and friends more deeply effected by this tragedy. I want to know how to show my love and sympathy without seeming to be a rubbernecker looking at a horrendous car accident. Uncertainty slows down my responses, just like logs slow down and jam up in a beaver-built dam. Then I realize I still have clients to see, work to do, housework to catch up, writing to do, and the next thing I know I’m completely blocked. Ideas, emotions, work, housecleaning, all get jumbled together and stop. What to do, what to do? Set priorities. People come first. Then emotions and ideas. Then action. The dam unjams. I’m praying your personal dams remain clear of debris this week. If not, do the next right thing for the nearest next person. (This idea, I must admit, came from Leo Tolstoy.)

John 13:34 (NIV)

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (This command came from Jesus.)

Peace and love, Elaine

Uptight, skinny white girl,
just 23 years old,
I thought I had it all figured out,
and told my co-worker so.

“I’d never do that, or that,
and heaven knows, never that!”
I said, with a self-righteous look,
and right then, I think,
my path was set to run,
not straight, but with
many bends and crooks.

Sure enough, a few years later,
my marriage ended,
my heart was broken,
and that was just the beginning,
of the furies I’d awoken.

Love affairs, I had a few,
some were simply convenient,
but one I thought was really true.
However, he was young,
and wild and free.
I was a single mom,
so he wasn’t right for me.
Again, my heart was broken,
I gave up and said,
“No more men,
I’m through!”

Then came the biggest challenges,
I fell in love again,
and Lord have mercy,
then the trials began!
This man had some problems,
my kids were in their teens,
my mother was dying slowly,
and then my father did the same.
I helped to care for them,
all while working in between.

With God’s help and steady hand,
He lead me safely through,
and as I made it to the other side,
I learned a thing or three or two.

I wondered where and why I erred,
and called myself the very worst of fools,
but then my dad he told me,
a few days before he died,
“I always thought you crazy,
you let your heart lead all the way,
but now I’m really grateful,
because you cared for your Mother
and me, every single day.
If you had lead your life with your head,
as I always wanted you to do,
where would I be now,
without your heart leading you?”

So, yes, I’ve made mistakes,
had my heart ache many times,
I’m not rich or famous,
but what I have is mine.
I have a loving, healthy family now,
and sweet memories to hold near,
I wouldn’t change a thing,
for the lessons I hold dear.

© D. Elaine Wood-Lane
6/3/16


This poem came about from a prompt made by Grace at the dVerse blog:

For this prompt, think of a mistake you’ve made. Think of what you learned from it or maybe how you thought it was the end of the world and it surprised you by turning out okay or bringing something exquisite into existence. Or, think of how it stretched you beyond your wildest imagination or how you would now say, with the benefit of hindsight, you’d actually regret not having made that ‘mistake’ in your life. Share something serious or funny….make us cry or laugh or teach us something from your own experience of mistake-making.

Go here to read more from dVerse! They’re awesome!

https://dversepoets.com

A New Perspective

As I sit here drinking my coffee in my humble, but thoroughly middle class American home, I think of all of those people, Christians in particular, who go through hell and back just they don’t fit the mold of their neighborhoods, towns, and countries. Can you imagine being told you cannot remain true to your faith and that if you do, you will be tortured or killed? Can you imagine having to meet for bible study in secret hideaway places, praying as you do that your group of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will come to no harm simply because they wanted to worship God and study His word? I cannot really imagine these things, even though it is undeniably true that these things are occurring in other parts of the world.

I’m currently reading I am N, which is a series of essays about Christian individuals living in Muslim countries and the persecution and dangers they face every day just because they decided to follow Christ. There are two very provocative common themes in most of these essays. First, they don’t hate Muslims, but forgive and pray for their Muslim persecutors daily. They do this even if family or friends have been kidnapped, tortured and killed. Christians in persecuted areas of the world seem to have read the gospel more thoroughly and have absorbed it into their souls so deeply that they would rather die than judge others or let others go without hearing about the saving grace of Christ Jesus their Lord.

The second provocative theme in these essays is that they beseech, seek and even beg for the prayers of their brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. They are doing magnificent work in responding to the Great Commission under horrible, almost unbelievable circumstances and all they ask from their fellow Christians, us, is that we pray that they may reach more people for Christ before they are captured or, worse, killed. They truly have found the “peace that passes all understanding” and taken the Great Commission seriously. The Great Commission came from Christ in Mark 16:15-20 (NIV)

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Oh, that more of us would have the strength of faith and grit found in our fellow believers in persecuted nations! We feel persecuted here in the U.S. if someone teases us sarcastically about believing in “Jesus and all those other myths and fairy tales.” Even though we are uncomfortable in those situations, we don’t ever fear being jailed, tortured, or killed as a result of them. Our greatest persecution here in the U.S. is that someone might find out we’re a Christian and then tease us, openly mock our faith or at the worst, think we are uncool, foolish, and close-minded.

I almost envy those who are being persecuted for following Jesus because they have a faith that is vital to them; so vital in fact that they are willing to die for it. Would you die for Christ? Would you willingly and knowingly subject yourself, your family and friends to danger for your faith? If not, you need to read I Am N. It will change your whole perspective on your faith and your life.

Please pray daily for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith. That’s all they are requesting from us. I expect God is asking us for much more than that. What do you think?

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I love this passage in Romans. When I get all out of whack and grumpy, I read this passage and get straightened out right away. I love all the different translations too, but this one from The Message says it all very plainly and I like that. So, I thought I would share this today, both to remind myself and to encourage others too.

I pray your weekend is blessed and that if you’re a mother, your Mother’s Day is full of love and laughter. 💕 Elaine

Romans 12:9-21from The Message

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.