Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Time of Wonder

Hello friends,

Every once in a while in the Southern Appalachians, we have just enough winter to create the perfect spring. This year is the perfect spring. I went for a walk this morning and cherry trees were simply loaded with blossoms. My Bradford Flowering Pear, that I planted as a seedling eight years ago, is simply bursting with huge, white blooms. It towers nearly to the roof of our house, and we have two levels. It's BEAUTIFUL!

Last year we had drought, and it hurt to see our newly planted Magnolias choking and dying, but this morning, there they were: rejuvenated and bursting with the promise of purple pink blooms. My Redbud is towering, which is unusual for a Redbud, and it is loaded with tiny, pea-like buds that will soon flush with perfect pink blooms. Even some of my tiniest Redbuds have a bloom or two. But the biggest surprise lays at the back of our property. Planted as a seedling, also eight years ago, is the thorn tree. Supposed to be a Washington Hawthorn, it is not, and it is loaded with four-inch long thorns, that my husband says are a "b#tch" to mow around.

This thorny, unlovely tree has survived explosion after explosion from the installation of our sewer line. It has survived years of drought, and years of the worst insect inundations, that have had me running for my Bible just to figure out when the "chewing locusts" were going to arrive. But I have grown to love that tree, even when we discovered that it's first blooms would not appear for twelve years. As I said to my husband, only half kidding, "I would have been sixty-five."

Standing at the top of the slope with my "weenie dog," I looked down at that thorny tree, and what did I see? A bloom. When Happy and I finally reached the bottom (you never rush a weenie dog, when he is reading the grass), there were TWO blooms. My heart filled up with wonder! Two blooms. Two little bouquets, sent by God above, four years early. Just for me.

I can't explain to you why this little treasure filled my heart with so much wonder, when there is so much more this spring, but the blooming of the thorn tree has won the prize in my heart; and I think I know why.

Aren't our lives a lot like this thorn tree? Sometimes quite unlovely, prickly with thorns, and then, when we least expect it, in one wonderful springtime in our lives, we bloom. We show them all! And most of all, we show ourselves.

I am in the autumn of my life. God has brought me through illness after illness, and like that unlovely tree, sometimes it feels as though my way is filled with thorns. But God never gives up on me. There will be a new medicine. I'll have to try harder to lose that extra eighteen pounds, but in my husband's eyes and in the eyes of my children, and best of all, in the eyes of God, I bloom. So today, my heart is filled with blooms and wonder.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Time for Thanksgiving

Hello friends,

I'm writing to you from my laptop in my bedroom today, instead of my office. Instead of being in my lap or on my shoulder, Happy Dog is in his crate. He is not pleased; so I have chilled the room down and turned on his electric blanket. There is nothing a "weenie dog" loves more than warmth. You see, we almost lost Happy this week-end. He had a normal procedure, just the removal of some cysts -- a little slip of the scalpel and a few stitches. On the way home he started bleeding -- drip, drip, drip, and he soaked through my clothes. We did an immediate turn around, and, thankfully, the best emergency vet in the world was on duty. Thank God, Happy is recovering, my clothes are in the trash, and I have my weenie dog to annoy and delight me for a long, long time.

One of my reasons for sharing this is to remind you that a dog's blood loss is a very urgent emergency. Especially for small dogs, but also for large dogs. A pint from us is easy to share, but a pint from them can mean the death of a dog. For Happy, just a few more tablespoons and I would have lost him. No more warm body stealing my space on the bed; no more ice-cube nose thrust into the small of my back; no more sharp kicks telling me to move over; no more funny tricks as we play dodge-ball with a slipper; and no more face turned up to mine, just to let me know I am his world. With every drip, drip, drip, it felt as though my life was pouring out, along with Happy's.

Today, Happy is recovering under his super dog pressure bandage, that looks like a bright blue and white T-shirt. He is not allowed to play or run around. That is for another day, when we will once again resume our merry chase.

So I thank God for the precious instinct that He gave me, to see the unusual and to act immediately; for a vet who knew what to do; but most of all for the charm, laughter, and mischief that is Happy Dog. Thank you Lord, for his life!

With love,


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Time to Speak

Hello friends,

Today has been one of those days that middle aged women often have, where the blood sugar and the blood pressure seem at war. I hate these days. I want to get busy. But I've been given this day to think, to ponder, and to share.

I want to share with you stories of some special souls that God has given to me. These are souls without a voice, unless I listen with my eyes, and with all of my heart. One precious soul you have met, if you have looked at his pictures above and below, my Happy Dog. He is the dog of my life, nine years old and still keeping his watch over me. The perfect heat seeking missile, he's under a blanket nearby.

Happy's voice says, "Mama, stay within sight; take me everywhere; and I will die for you." It's as simple as that. He would die for me. I know his voice, his real voice, that comes from his heart. There is no conflict; no wondering if he can slide by without honor; just one He has been by my side every day of his life, and he lives for me.

Then there is Jessie. He was supposed to be smaller. Much smaller. He is very big. He is very sensitive. He is often very scared. He's afraid of feet with shoes, scraps of paper, the T.V. remote, and the computer modem. He has a history that makes him so. He adores my husband, and he needs a lot of gentle reassurance from me. He is safe here. We will not let anyone harm him, including ourselves. He can be very fierce to outsiders. God help the person who ever tries to break into our house.

Peanut. Helen's little Pomeranian princess. Sassy. Bold. Funny and devoted. She is the youngest, and she has stolen all of our hearts. How could that happen when we were so unsuspecting?

Morgan. The Queen Mum. (No disrespect to the British) She just is. She is the oldest. She is fourteen years old. 85 in people years. She has given so much. Frail, now, I can still remember her standing in the river, desperately looking for a stray fish, and running through the meadow with such abandon. The Alpha female, always in charge, now the other dogs still defer to her, and I wish I could hear the patterns of their voices, saying, "Yes, your Majesty, you still rule in our hearts."

MeowMeow. The cat who never stops talking. An outdoor cat simply because she loves me so much she relieves herself on my pillow. Talking and going to the bathroom on my pillow. Along with eating those are MeowMeow's ways of saying "I love you." And she does. She loves me, and she follows me around the yard, wherever I go. She is precious, and she speaks to me, constantly. She makes my heart just ache, because I know she forgives me for the outside. Besides she loves the butterflies, and the mouse who shares her bed, and the birds who share their water. MeowMeow is like no other cat.

But there is one voice whom we will never hear from again. A little white and gray, calico Manx, who worshipped no one except our daughter, Helen. Snoopy would wait on the fireplace mantle (it was her spot), until Helen came back from college. Almost seeming not to care, at first, she would fly off the mantle and into Helen's arms, as she sat down. Helen would catch up on old times, and Snoopy would lower her ears and close her eyes for a good stroking. Snoopy loved Helen, and it was magic to watch.

How Snoopy got out of the house is irrelevant, but she did, and she ran, and ran, and ran, and no one could catch her. It was only later that we realized that she was looking for Helen. The neighborhood dogs, you don't want to know about; and six inches of rain the next day made it impossible for Happy Dog to follow her trail. No amount of advertisements or going house to house could find her. She was gone from our house forever, but never from our hearts.

I guess the point of this is that animals can't say what they want. They can't tell you they are thirsty, or as in Snoopy's case, a withering look and an adamant, "there's a hair in the water." Animals have no voice, or so I've heard; but they will speak, and they do, if we listen, with our eyes, with our hearts, and with our souls. And if we let them, they will change our lives forever.

Their time with us is so short. Morgan, fourteen, where every hug good-night, may mean "good-bye." Jessie, the large dog, who is seven, 54 years old. Large dogs age more quickly, and good-bye comes too soon. Peanut. Precious and pretty. So young, yet time passes swiftly. I know, because it seems like yesterday that I brought my tiny dachshund home, cradling him in the palm of my hand. Nine years old, and not in the best of health, still standing guard and ready to die for me.

I am not ready to say good-bye; but it will come, and I know it. So perhaps God sends these precious creatures into our lives, so that we will understand His grace; so that we will learn how to love; how to cherish; and how to change. We don't have much longer to change, but we can do it if we want to. Perhaps if we listen to the animals speak, they will teach us how.

With love,

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Time of Threshing

Hello friends,
This is just a tiny note, which is unusual for me.  I wanted to share something with you.
The Bible tells me that at the end of the world, my Savior will come and "thresh" the nations.  Oh, I know that there are people who don't believe that, but I do.  What that means, exactly, is debatable even within the Christian community.
So I looked up the word "thresh," and I found that it means "to beat the stems and husks of grain or cereal plants."  It's how we get oatmeal, and the first step in getting flour for bread.  In order to get these precious foods, they must first be beaten from the stalk.  It is a necessary part of the life process.  It is also a necessary part of our lives.
I hate being threshed.  I hate the feeling of being beaten, but how wonderful is the feeling when I overcome.  We have all been beaten in some way.  We are all being threshed.  Even though I love the outcome, gosh, I hate the journey.
Friday a wonderful woman visited my website and blog, and she sent to me an Indian proverb:
"We have a saying in India that in order for henna to show her true colours, she has to be totally crushed before her true beautiful colour appears.  That is you."
I was so deeply touched that I was overcome with tears.  I cannot thank her enough.  So, it occurred to me, perhaps the threshing is not so bad if something beautiful comes of it.
Oh Lord my God, please carry us through the days of threshing, and bring us into the light of Your beauty.  Give us the strength as you carry us through.
May you have a wonderful week-end, my friends.  Take heart.  You are not alone, nor am I.
With love,

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Time of Deep Reflection

Hello friends,

Tomorrow is my mother's birthday. She would have been 91. As I grow older I find that I mark the date, March 13, and I'm usually quite teary eyed around this time.

My mother and I had a difficult relationship, to say the least. I cannot blame my mother for wanting someone different, but we did find peace in the end. She had a terribly unhappy life with my father, who fought demons of his own. Neither was happy, and I am convinced that neither would have known what to do with happiness, if it arrived in a great big box, all labeled and fluttering with ribbons.

My mother loved the little things: snowglobes and tiny plants. My father loved the grandstand. He was an accomplished musician, so he would write my mother a song. He would type the words onto a card for her birthday or their anniversary, and one problem, he would type his name at the end. Who does that? No message, just his name, typed.

Sadly, I don't believe my father loved anyone, including himself. My mother gave up years before she died. She died in the middle of an argument. A screaming match, really. She had this stomach ache that started in the morning, and only got worse through the day. My father told me this, later. As my mother cried and cried about her stomach ache, my Dad kept telling her, "take more antacid! It's just gas!"

The argument, much as my father's music, rose to a crescendo and then climaxed with my mother screaming, "I'm going to die!" My father, of course, shouted back, "oh no you're not!" And then, my mother fell back into her chair, threw up, and she died. My father did nothing. He wouldn't have known what to do anyway. And so, my mother was gone.

What has hurt me for most of the twenty-five years since, is that I was not there. I would have known what to do. I would have cleaned the vomit from her hair. That would have bothered my mother -- the vomit. I wasn't there to hold her in my arms and say, "Mommy, I am so thankful that the last words we spoke to each other was, "I love you."

Three little words. Nothing grand. Just I love you. Small things that mean so much. On my website at you can read a couple of stories that I have written about my mother. There is a link on this page.

My mother. I loved her and I hated her. That was simply the only relationship she would allow. I miss her every day.

Saturday, there was a contrast in my personal life. I got out of bed and I had a fainting spell. Out of the love that dwells within them, my two daughters sprang into action. Calling my husband they hovered over me, taking my blood pressure, which had fallen suddenly. My blood sugar was quickly monitored. Something was provided for me to throw-up in. My feet were held high, as my head was lowered. In my chest, my heart so fluttered, like a flock of birds. I am now fine. But I thought of my mother, so alone with my father, which is the most alone she could have been.

I realized how blessed I am, to be loved, to be sheltered, to be cared for, to hear those simple words, "I love you" hundreds of times a day. Oh yes, I'm sure my mother is smiling for me from heaven. And finally I can smile for her.

Much love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Time to Grow Old

Hello friends,

I haven't thought about it very often in the last 60 years. Okay, maybe 30 years. I remember turning 30 and having this moment of sickening panic, when I realized that I would never see twenty again. That day, two forty year old friends wrote me a poem, brought it to my house, and then recited for me, just how young 30 is.

I remember that 44 bothered me. Not 40, but 44, because I realized that more than half of my life was over, and one day I would die. I remember thinking that I hadn't experienced enough to think about dying. I needed to do more. Actually, the very thought about dying and knowing that my soul would live on, absolutely terrified me. I had too many unanswered questions.

It seems all too silly today, perhaps because I am facing my 61st birthday, and I am on yet two more new medications, on top of the ones I already take. Yippee.

What brings me to this place of reflection, is silly, really. You see, I have misplaced one of my new medications; and that just makes me crazy, but not as crazy as it would have made me at 55 or even 58 or even 59.

You see, I'm waiting for my daughter to come home. She will find it. She will find where I left my new medication, if she has to tear the house apart; if she has to straighten every magazine, dust every space, crawl under the bed, or find where the dog may have hidden it; or even, where my sometimes scattered brain can't remember where I set it aside last night in the dark. So, my heart is light, because I have somebody. In fact I have three somebody's, who will tear the house down and rebuild it, just to find what I need.

So, I don't need to fear getting old. I don't need to wonder who will love me, and if necessary, who will care for me. If the day ever comes, when I'm suddenly a five year old, and I can't make it to the bathroom fast enough, I know that I have three blessed someone's who will clean everything up, including me, and thank God for one more day, in which to do it.

There is a lot spoken of these days about riches; how fast you can get it; how much you can get; and how long you can keep it. I see it, and it disturbs me, because the greatest treasure on earth is to know that one is loved, and just how much.

Jesus said, that there was a man who so admired his treasures, that he built a huge barn to house it all. Jesus called him a fool. He said, "Thou fool! Tonight thy soul will be required of thee!" Then Jesus asked, how much will your treasure be worth then? Then he said one of my favorite passages in the Bible; he said, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So, here is my treasure, in the heart of my husband; in the hearts of my children; and in the heart of God. I am very rich. I hope that you are too.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Time for Time

Hello friends,

I suppose that the title to this piece could be "a time to ponder," for that is what this piece is really about. Time. Making up time. Wasting time. Taking the time. And, of course, all the time in the world. That's where I am -- all the time in the world. That's what God has given me. Time.

I often don't like this gift. The time I missed my daughter's talent contest, where she won in a flurry of attention. The beauty pageant that she won with eyes alight with her inner beauty, and a smile that could light up the sun. There are so many things I have missed, because of health issues. So many things.

I am one of the lucky ones. I am blessed with a unique and lasting love of a man who truly understands that commitment. I have the love and devotion of two beautiful daughters, who count themselves blessed to make me a "throw-up" bag, or hold my head as I lean over the side of the bed.

Being like any other human being, I'd like to have more. I'd like to be able to leap to my feet in a crowd and applaud my daughters as they receive one award after another, but usually I cannot. They never suggest, with even a glance that I have let them down, and you know, I believe them.

So why not end it all, right now, as some would say. Why? Because God has given me time. The time to see the beautiful generosity of my children's souls. He has given me time to weigh the balance between what the world calls "love," and the wonderful, selflessness of my husband's devotion. He has given me time to really see who they are, and to tell them that I see.

God has given me time to understand the great riches of a warm hand brushing the hair back from my brow. He has given me time to see the great beauty blazing in the eyes of love. He has given me time to say, "you are my hero," and to mean every word.

He has given me time to gaze up at the stars on a crystal clear night, and to know that He created each one simply for my pleasure. He has given me time to watch a radiant sunset from the beginning to the end. He has given me time, so much time. And for those of us racing against time, I believe, He has given me the greatest gift of all.

With love,

Email Jaye