Thursday, November 27, 2014

The day the turkey didn't roast

I couldn't tell you exactly what year it was that Thanksgiving, only that I was old enough to drive....and to fully understand my mother's panic.  A new oven with a time bake feature (standard on many now days) gave Mom the luxury of popping the turkey in the oven and setting it to heat, roast and the behemoth bird golden brown well before our traditional lunch time feast---simply by putting it in the oven when she went to bed.  

The first sign of trouble: there was no magnetizing aroma of turkey to pull me from my sleep on Thanksgiving day.  Mom had not been up long and when I entered the kitchen; there was mumbling about the turkey still being raw.  Dad, in usual fashion, had gotten up at the crack of dawn and had gone to work in the yard to plant trees, another tradition.  I don't remember the exact chain of events in the interim but I was sent to Wilmington to retrieve Mrs. Blanche Matthews, a family friend who came to share most holidays with us, from Extended Care.  By the time we returned to the homestead, plan B was well underway:Turkey roasting in the oven and hamburgers ready to be fried.
I can still see the square patties on the griddle Mom used to make grilled cheese or french toast.  The turkey was finished cooking in time for an early supper and made for an interesting day, the rest of which has slipped from my memory.
What did I learn that day?

  • Things rarely, if ever, go according to plan, so be flexible.  The turkey wasn't ready for lunch..... but it wasn't the end of the world.
  • Caring for older adults is important and worth the effort.  Both Mrs. Matthews and my (Uible) grandmother were older, but we looked forward to having them on special occassions and gave no thought to the effort it would take to bring two aging women with walkers into our home.  When Grandma Uible got to the point where she used her wheelchair more and more, she did not let that hold her back.  And, more importantly, my parents never complained or acted as if it was an inconvenience to get her to church each Sunday or out to eat or to a Doctors appointment.  That's just what we did....because it was the right thing and EVERYONE deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.  

In hindsight, God used this lesson not only to help me learn how to interact with Sr. Adults but to prepare me for the challenges of a handicapped husband.  While Don didn't use a walker or wheelchair for many years, when that time came there was no fear of how to do this or how to handle that.  It just simply was.  Period. The main thing was to offer as many possibilities with as much kindness as possible. And, stay flexible.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Wet Blanket

While Mom worked as a children's librarian at the New Vienna Elementary school for many years, she was equally active in community organizations. Burned into my memory is how she would return home after a meeting of one of these clubs grumbling about someone and consistently would say, "She's a WET BLANKET".  As a child I had no clue what it meant but I could tell from the tone of voice and facial expression that it was NOT a compliment. The website gives several interesting definitions, among which are: A person who seems determined not to have a good time and refuses to play or interact with others. Someone who generally has a negative attitude. Someone or something that could have utility but chooses not to. This is from the idea that a blanket could be a wanted item, but is no longer wanted when wet.

We've all been in situations where people have great ideas.  Risky ideas. Fiery ideas! Inevitably the "wet blanket" of the group---and you are fighting a long, uphill battle if there is more than one to deal with---tosses out their negative barbs. "We've never done it that way." "That's not a good idea."  "It's impossible, can't be done."  A wet blanket will smother a smoldering fire before it fully ignites.  Wet Blankets not only smother fires, they initiate NOTHING.  They accomplish even less.  Fires can be good and even productive, albeit hot. Don't give up when some well mean soul heaves a wet blanket on your fire.  Instead consider the mighty sequoia forest: when tested by fire, it drops new seeds onto soil that has become receptive because that which would choke out the seed previously was fried.  The sequoia stands tall and, because of the fire, actually reproduces better because of it. 
Or how does a fine craftsman remove dross from the gold or silver?  Yep, you guessed it.  Put a fire under it to make the impurities easier to remove.  

From my own experience, each Sunday as I lead worship, there are wet blankets.  As I sing and encourage others to do the same, there are those who refuse -- with a vengeance.  Not only do they not even attempt to open their mouths, they scowl!  But many years ago I decided not to be deterred by these persons:  actually it makes me more aware of how blessed I am to be God's child and be able to lift my heart and voice to praise Him.  When I think of all He has done for me, how on earth can I keep from singing?!

It is not a case for us of if but when some well-meaning soul will throw a dripping, wet blanket on the fire.  We can choose to give up and willingly let the embers die.  We can learn to be miserably comfortable, living a life of boring mediocrity. Not me!  I am going to pray that God, who is a CONSUMING fire, would set all of us ablaze with His holy love, in much the same way He did so for Moses in the burning bush.  In so doing, may we burn brightly with the light of hope that tomorrow can -- and will -- indeed be a better day!