Category Archive: Contentment

Farewell…For a Season

Don and I attended a meaningful memorial service yesterday for our dear friend, June McCuistion, who left earth for heaven a week before her 90th birthday. The service was a celebration. June had polio at five years of age and has been in constant pain since, every day of her life. Yet I’ve rarely seen a more beautiful, gracious, strong woman.

I never recall her complaining about her pain. This morning Don and I read the following statement: “I call you to lead the life that I have assigned to you, and to be content … Learning to be content is both a discipline and an art: you train your mind to trust my sovereign ways with you–bowing before my mysterious, infinite intelligence.” (Jesus Today, by Sarah Young) As Jan, June’s daughter, shared at yesterday’s service, “Mom’s faith allowed her to choose to accept the life she had, and to be the best she could be.”

June also had severe scoliosis, and a spine that was quite curved, making it harder for her to find clothing she liked. Once, June and Walt and Fritz and Frank Buschman were vacationing together with us in Puerto Vallarta. Fritz, June and I went shopping and found some clothes that were beautiful on June, with her stylishly simple, snow-white hair and beautiful face. That evening she modeled the clothes for her husband, Walt, and the rest of us. Walt’s eyes shone, and June teared up. “I feel beautiful.”

And she was beautiful…inside and out. June regularly listened and empathized and went beyond her pain to hear and feel the needs of others, which may in retrospect have been far smaller than her own needs. She could also speak truth in a firm, but loving way, when women coming to her for advice needed to correct their thinking or behavior.

June’s dear husband, Walt McCuistion, was a pastor and counselor for many years. He and I had lunch together one day when I was in conflict at work. I’d called in sick because I woke up in tears and couldn’t face going into the office that day. My sweet husband called Walt and asked if he could meet me for lunch. Over that brief period, Walt gave me perspective on the situation I was in, challenging me to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). I returned to work with a new attitude and a refreshed heart.

Walt married Don and me. He was getting forgetful, and started to pronounce us husband and wife before we said our vows. Both June and I spoke up.

“Not yet, Walt.”

“What?”

“We haven’t said our vows yet.”

“Oh, go ahead.”

And with that we simply moved forward through the rest of the ceremony. We’d decided to have a very small wedding–had both had big weddings in our prior lives–and the interruption of Walt’s forgetfulness felt so natural, so comfortable with only eight people there, that it remains one of our fond memories of a very intimate and close time.

Walt died five years ago. June was in a rehab center after a bone break, and the family had all gathered in a conference room to discuss her treatment. As Walt sat in his chair, surrounded by his wife, daughter and son, he simply passed into the presence of Jesus. “Good for him, bad for us,” his son Greg said yesterday. And yet, what a way to go Home, to the eternity that awaits those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ and His atonement for us. We were created for heaven … and, for the believer, death is a transition, a graduation if you will, to what we were made for–unending, perfect fellowship with our God and fellow believers.

June and Walt are reunited. Their memorial services were five years and one day apart. But their lives have impacted many for eternity. I miss them; and their family needs God’s comfort in the loss of this wonderful mother and grandmother. But heaven is enriched because another saint has come Home.

If you haven’t looked at the claims of Jesus, please do so. Read the New Testament book of John to discover his words, his heart, his sacrifice, his gift of eternal life. And consider his invitation to become part of his eternal family.

 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (I John 5:12) 

See you soon, June and Walt!

Oops … Overload Strike!

My friend told me her mother’s memorial service was on June 23. Somehow  the month, “June,” didn’t register, but the 23rd did. Don and I were scheduled to leave for a grandson’s graduation in Idaho on the 24th. “I’m so glad we can attend before we leave.”
We drove an hour over the hill to Cupertino two Wednesdays ago and were surprised the church parking lot was so empty. Surely there would be more people present to celebrate the life of our dear friend, June McCuistion. Where were they? We saw only a few employees around, and in some trepidation walked up to the front doors of the church, which were closed but not locked. Opening them, we looked into a dark sanctuary!
Don and I looked at each other. Oh, my, did I get the wrong church? The wrong time?
Pulling out my phone, I was about to check back in my messages when a lady stepped out of an office.
“Are you looking for June M…” I finished her sentence. “McCuistion. Yes.”
“It’s June 23rd,” she responded. “You’re the second couple who’s been here today.”
Oh my. At least we weren’t alone in our mistake. We could have gotten annoyed with each other (or especially, Don with me!). I’d made several faux pas in the last three weeks, and I could have been down on myself. Well, I was … a little. But we managed to laugh at ourselves, and enjoy the time together as we drove back home. And we’ll return on June 23rd for the REAL service!
I’d had a lot on my mind … meetings with contractors, preparing for our trips to Mexico and Idaho, for social engagements, for upcoming guests coming our way, and for our planned Fall move. Overload! And then things, like the month of a service, slipped through the cracks of my overcrowded brain cells.
Have you done that? I’d love to hear some silly thing you did when you had too much going on.
We are delighted to be home again and to have no trips planned in the next months. As Don planted flowers and leveled a birdbath yesterday afternoon, I took him some iced tea. We sat together on our porch glider, enjoying the beauty and open space that are our view. Variegated shades of green in grass, trees and shrubs; multi-colored flowers; white fences; and the stillness spoke to us of peace and rest. I felt a great sense of contentment as my honey and I held hands and talked. Once again I’m reminded how critical it is in the midst of our demanding lives (yes, even as retirees) to stop and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, to sit with those we love and enjoy each day as a gift. And I’m a better person for stopping to enjoy the moment.

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:30-32)

If even Jesus’ disciples needed to stop and rest, to get away from the busyness of life, how much more do we need to “come apart” for times of refreshing.

May you be renewed with quietness in Jesus’ presence this week!

“Go about, preaching the gospel, using words where necessary”

“She kept things ship-shape here. Kept the doctors in line–and they still loved her.”

“Oh, I miss her! Please tell her hi.”

Shirley and Fritz (right) on a girlfriends’ weekend with me.

One of my best friends, Fritz Buschman, retired two years ago from Washington Hospital’s Institute for Joint Repair; now I was there for a total knee replacement.

“She was always smiling. Very approachable.”

I was on an overnight stay in the hospital following my surgery on Thursday. As I’d asked hospital personnel if they knew my girlfriend Fritz, I got loads of wonderful comments expressing appreciation for Fritz, her hard work and her spirit. And I was delighted to hear these great comments about one of my dearest friends.

Fritz and I have been close friends for about twenty-five years. Not long after we met, she called to tell us her husband was in the hospital, needing immediate surgery. My late husband and I rushed to the hospital to sit with Fritz and their daughter, waiting to hear the results of Frank’s emergency stint in the OR.

Fritz was one of the close friends who visited me in Florida when Jerry was dying. She helped me understand the monitors. I remember her lovely blue eyes, full of compassion; her smile, which welcomed others in; her patience in explanations; and her loving support (along with other dear friends) after Jerry’s death.

He gave His life for me, and for you

So I totally understand why Fritz was admired and appreciated in her workplace. Hearing these warm sentiments, I was reminded of  II Corinthians 2: 15.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

Through her competence and compassion, Fritz has been a pleasing aroma of Christ to those with whom she worked. She has let her love for Christ show in how she respects and treats others.

I want my life to be such a sweet aroma for Christ, one that reflects His character. At times I fail miserably. But I thank God for forgiveness and clean slates that allow me to start fresh, clean, whole.

And I’m grateful for Fritz’ lovely example.

 

Thanksgiving – Today, or Every Day?

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

(Psalm 95:1-2 NIV)

 

Thankfulness has been scientifically shown to have significant health benefits, including an increase in happiness. But to receive its highest value, we need to SHOW our thanks, not just feel it. As pastor and author Tim Keller states, “It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.”

So as we enter this Thanksgiving week, I’m reflecting on the things for which I am grateful. And they are many.

  • For Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who enfolded me into His family, who died and rose again so that I might have a relationship with Him now and for eternity. Who enabled me to move forward after the most devastating loss of my life, into a new life of love, joy, service, and community.
  • For Mom and Dad, who loved me unconditionally, even when I hurt them by actions or choices, and who taught me as a child to love Jesus.  Who provided a secure home foundation as well as resources for me to grow in faith and in life. Who pray for me, and their other children, daily.
  • For three loving brothers, Melvyn, Arnold and Robert, and their wives Vicky, Carol and Sheila, who have always had a significant presence in my life, and who have walked with me through significant joys and sorrows.
  • For Sunday School and public school teachers who taught, challenged, encouraged me to learn and grow and study and pass on what I learned that impacted my life.
  • For single missionary to Nigeria, Katherine Dick, whose life showed me that service to God was a joy rather than simply a duty.
  • For two loving husbands, Don and Jerry, both of whom love(d) me well, sacrificially, joyfully; with whom I delight in sharing life; and who work(ed) with me through the difficult times all marriages face.
  • For two precious daughters-in-faith, Grace and Tanith, who give me deep joy as I watch them develop their own walks with God, and who love me back.
  • For grandnephew Joshua, visiting from London these past two weeks, who helped Don put my new desk together and taught me a great deal more about my online presence and possibilities.
  • For my writing mentor, Karen, and my writing critique group members who hold me accountable and critique my work to make it better and more impactful.
  • For sorrow, without which I might not recognize–or appreciate as deeply–joy.
  • For my dear friends, who have stood with me through good and bad times, who have forgiven me when needed, who have invited me into their hearts and lives. You know who you are, and I thank you!
  • My readers, who take the time to let me know if something touches them, or if there is something I say with which they disagree.

And there’s more! Our country, the wonderful church Don and I are part of, a home, food, clothing, friendships, our sweet doggie …  laughter, tears, the ability to think, walk, see, hear, smell …

Charles Stanley: “Gratitude produces deep, abiding joy because we know that God is working in us, even through difficulties.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!” 

So, as we enjoy the food and festivities of this special day (and every day), have you expressed your thanks to others? If not, I challenge you to do so–for both your benefit and theirs!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

 

 

 

What’s the Lie You’re Believing?

It was 1983. Russia had shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007, killing all aboard and leading to worldwide tension. On September 26th, handsome young Lieutenant-Colonel Stanislav Petrov was in the commander’s seat in the underground early warning bunker south of Moscow. He expected a boring night when nothing would happen. And then it did! A warning light flashed and, in red letters on a white background, his computer screen screamed “LAUNCH. LAUNCH. LAUNCH.” Sirens pierced the night, indicating the US had just gone to war.

When a US missile could reach Russia in 12 minutes, seconds were critical.

Petrov broke out in a cold sweat and his face paled. But he kept his nerve. Other screens were not showing the flash of an inter-continental ballistic missile leaving a US silo. Could this be a computer glitch rather than the real thing? Other warnings flashed onto the screen, but they didn’t make sense. They indicated an attack of three, four, five missiles, rather than a mass preemptive strike of overwhelming force. He decided to wait. After ten interminable minutes the warnings stopped and there was no attack. Petrov’s screen had lied, and his decision to wait stopped what could have been World War III.

Pastor Rene told us this story this weekend and talked of how often, through our culture, the media, and advertising, our screens lie to us, telling us we will be happy “if only …” We’ll be popular if we drink this beer, or wear these sneakers, or use that perfume.

What if instead, we took time to thank God for the many blessings He has given each of us, gifts from the mundane to the sublime, from life itself, family and friends, beauty, laughter brought by a loved pet, and food most of us can access easily. We’re not necessarily told to give away all the blessings we have, but to be content with them, to say no to the lies that tell us we need “a little more”.

I struggle with this at times, wanting something to make me stronger, thinner, happier. Do you? Do we even recognize the lies when they bombard us?

I Timothy 6:6-8 says “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. So if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

Contentment happens when we recognize and thank God for the good gifts He gives us rather than looking for what we’re missing. I had significant pain this week, following my recent total shoulder replacement. I can complain and say “I wish my body was stronger.” Or I can recognize the blessing of being able to have this surgery and look forward to significant healing as time (and therapy) goes on. I thank Him for my physical therapist who “hurts me good”; for my husband who ensures I’m tucked in comfortably to sleep; for my surgeon; for a place to rest and renew and exercise; and so much more.

And when I am content, I am also more willing to express my gratitude by being generous with my time and resources, to help others in need.

For what are you thankful today? And, if you’re believing a lie that says you need “more,” how will you counteract that with the truth?