Monday, January 31, 2011

White Cadillac

On January 19, 2010 someone very dear left us unexpectedly. She was an incredible woman—full of spit and verve. Her filter was turned on a very low setting and she pretty much said what she thought. She dressed in UK gear and rooted the Cats on regardless. She had lunch with representatives, senators and governors. She helped my step-father with his restaurant business—serving food, cleaning tables and making customers laugh. She had a quick wit and a sharp tongue, but she had an incredible compassion for those she loved.

Her name was LaVinia. She was my step-father’s sister.

We went to her funeral and laughed. One of our state representatives spoke and told stories and quips from LaVinia’s life—how she touched those around her. How she made them laugh and how she encouraged them when their chin was dragging.

I was sitting toward the back of the room, but somehow I managed to get a straight view of my brother, who was sitting in the pall-bearers’ line. I watched his face as these stories were recounted. He was very close to his Aunt LaVinia; she was his best friend. He would nod, as many around me would, at LaVinia’s hilarious tactics.

LaVinia’s funeral was on a Sunday. My brother’s birthday was on the following Tuesday. He and Aunt LaVinia had planned the whole day: a whole day of festivities to celebrate not only my brother’s birthday, but his victory over addiction. LaVinia had been instrumental in his recovery—loyal, encouraging LaVinia.

On Monday night my brother told me he wished he could just go to sleep and not wake up until Wednesday morning. He wanted to just skip his birthday—no LaVinia to sing happy birthday to him—to make a big-to-do in a way only she could. He just wanted to miss the whole thing. This broke my heart.

On Monday night I told him I would pray. I was going to pray for our God to give him something—a very clear sign which would let him know without a doubt and with utter clarity that LaVinia and God were remembering him on his birthday.

I did pray. And I prayed again.

On Tuesday night I got online to wish my brother a happy birthday one more time. He was online and so we began to talk about his day. He asked me if I had time for him to tell me about a dream he had had the night before. In the early hours of his birthday. Of course I wanted to hear.

The following is a recounting of our conversation. (My brother’s comments are in italics, my responses are in regular type.)

I was at the Frosty Freeze (the name of our family restaurant) staring out the window (the take-out window) and Curt (LaVinia’s husband who passed away a few years ago) and LaVinia pulled up in a white Cadillac laughing and having a ball and singing happy birthday…it was so real.

As these words popped up on the fb chat screen I started crying.

I told my brother, “I prayed and asked God to send you something to let you know LaVinia would remember…that He remembered. Of course God always outdoes what I ask him to do. Only He could come up with something like that!

“Yeah, it was pretty cool. After they sung they just drove off laughing and having a blast. It [the dream] blowed my mind. It made my day”

That’s how God really is.

Yeah, I know.

Can I tell this to the girls and at school?

Yeah, tell whoever! I told everybody today. Figured I’d tell you about it. You said God would send me something and he did.

Yes, he did.

I won’t ever forget that.

Neither will I.

A white Cadillac.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Too Big for My Britches

In the past few weeks I have been shown that I have been too big for my britches. Not my physical britches, despite the fact we just came out of the food-laden holidays, they are still fine. No, my other britches.

Many of you who did not grow up in Eastern Kentucky might not know what britches are. This is an alternative spelling for breeches—cropped riding pants. This doesn’t make a great deal of sense until you realize this is an idiom meaning asserting oneself beyond one's authority or ability.*

I learned this phrase from my maternal grandmother. I am sorry to say I can’t count how many times she said this phrase to me. Seemed as if I was forever outgrowing my britches.

Sometimes we get so comfortable in our faith and routine we forget we are not above mistakes and sins. We ignore the fact that even though we have been saved by his grace, bought and cleansed by his blood and justified by his sacrifice we can still be the one in the wrong. We can still be the one not making the right choices, saying the wrong things and not doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

During the past few weeks the Spirit has been gently and quietly, but very firmly disciplining me (I mistakenly typed the word discipling—fits too, I think). His reprimands began a couple of weeks ago in church (the morning I did NOT want to go) and he has been relentless ever since. His word to me had been very clear.

I have asserted myself beyond the authority and ability God has given me.

I have offered answers to questions I didn’t have any business answering. I have acted as if I know more than others around me. I have judged when I should have extended mercy. I have patronized when I should have offered the hand of grace. I have been stubborn when I should have been flexible. I have hidden when I should have been available. I have turned inward when I should have been focused outward. I have been too harsh when I should have been gentle. I have been too demanding when I should have rearranged my expectations. I have found fault when I should have allowed love to cover a multitude of wrongs. I have exchanged the Word of God for the endless prattle and fodder of a novel. I have ignored the silent promptings of the Spirit. I have been silent when I should have spoken. I have spoken when I should have been silent.

This is not a hypothetical list. I can give a specific example for each.

And the root of it all is hubris—ugly pride.

I have been too big for my britches.

O God, renew a right spirit within me.


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