Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gentler Time by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

We lived across the street from one another for nearly eight years. For two military families, that’s a lifetime of friendship. Like the blazing sunrise over Charleston, South Carolina, and the sunset in the west, I knew that no matter what, John and Pat would always be there, not only for me, but for my husband and children.

We celebrated one another’s birthdays and graduation parties, along with all of the surprises of life. When John was aboard ship’s deployment, I was there for Pat; and when my Louie was out to sea, she was there for me. I don’t remember a single fight that we had. We simply found ourselves on a different page than the rest of the world.

We dressed up for Halloween, and went to the mall, Pat as a six-foot tall, green faced witch, wearing a towering hat, and I, thinking I looked like a rock star, mistaken for a lady of the night. In many ways we were quite innocent, even naïve. You might say that in our late thirties and, in my case, early forties, we went through childhood together.

We watched each other’s children grow into adolescence and beyond, wondering who would wind up taller, Pat’s son or my daughter, since one year’s growth for the two of them leaped eight inches.

We went back to school together, driving through the Air Force base every day. Pat helped me to bear the insults of my father, who lived with us, and who had decided to make us as miserable as the last years of his life could muster. Pat made me laugh about tragic things, and in that gave me back half of my life.

John was always there, when his ship was in, either in the driveway chatting with Louie about guy stuff or planning a surprise party for somebody. He was a good man and a kind man. Unpretentious, John was down to earth and unspoiled by either the ups or downs of life. He was humorous, and a hard worker, a virtue not much admired these days, except for those who truly knew him. Now he is gone, and though miles have separated us, as we went our separate ways into retirement, the thought of that big man with an even bigger heart, not with us, breaks mine.

You would have liked John. He would have made you laugh. He would have surprised you with a glass of iced-tea or Pat’s to-die-for bean dip and chips. Things were simple to John. You were a friend, and that meant good things. I don’t think he had an enemy in the world. Oh, I remember so many things about John, that would mean nothing to anyone else. I guess my most revealing memory is that John was real — truly himself, unapologetic in true simplicity, he was a man without guile. Now he’s gone, and he will be sorely missed.

Pat and I went through hurricanes, separations, heartache, and wild laughter. We were always together, and always 100% in each other’s corner. We backed each other up through the serious and the ludicrous of life. My heart is with her right now, though we live thousands of miles apart. She was and still is my very best friend. We have one of those once in a lifetime friendships that neither time nor distance can separate. In fact, I think I can honestly state that we are forever friends. I just didn’t think that forever would come so swiftly.

Gentler Time

Sittin’ on the curb, Settin’ on the stoop,
Grilled cheese sandwiches.
Tomato soup.

Buffalo nickels and silver dimes,
Penny candy and church bell chimes.

Hop scotch, jacks, and skates with keys.
Kinder words, like “thanks” and “please.”

Hop-Scotch, Butterscotch, Cracker-Jacks,
Hopping home o’er sidewalk cracks.

“Simon Says.”
Walkin’ to school.
Greaser hair and being “cool.”

Jackie Gleason. Name that Tune.
“Alice, Pow! Right to the Moon!”

Licking “Eat-Ade” from your hand.
Dancing close with a dancing band.

Hoola Hoops and Poodle skirts.
Boys wore ties, and girls were “flirts.”

Chevys. Hot Rods. Thunderbirds.
Holding hands, no need for words.

Sunday chicken and mashed potatoes.
Lots o’ gravy and fried tomatoes.

Meat loaf night, sittin’ at the table.
T.V. night without a cable.

Taking a stroll instead of a jog.
Letter writing. Sittin’ on a log.

Simple pleasures, short and sweet.
Crossing in the middle of the street.

Saddle shoes and crinolines;
Eating tuna out of tins.

All those memories in my mind
Of a kinder and a gentler time.

Copyright Jaye Lewis, 2002

Good-by John. I'll see you in heaven.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Yes, Virginia, There is a God By Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

Last night, rather late, I received an email from someone whom I will call Virginia. She told me that I am a good man, which tells me she has read at least one of my works, without a picture. So she doesn’t even know that I am a woman.

Well, Virginia went on to say that my belief in God was, well, childish, when everyone else knows He does not exist. Her email was less than cohesive. She flipped from one thought to the next, without any connection to her claim. Her thoughts scattered all over my computer screen – Big Bang, God as Big Bang, Big Bang as God. Another interesting observation was in the form of a question: “If there is a God, who came before Him? Who created Him?”

That question stimulates my own reasoning:

If there is no God, then who or what came first?
If there is no God, then why are you so afraid of Him?
If there is no God, then why do you care so much to inform me?
If there is no God, then when my time is up on this earth, it won’t matter.
On the other hand, if there is a God, and you war against Him, you have an eternity to regret your decision.

Quite frankly, I don’t believe you. It would not occur to me to contact someone that I don’t know, and set them straight about their core faith. So, you are afraid that there is a God and you’re mad at Him for some reason, because He didn’t do what you wanted.

Anyhow, friends, these are the things that are on my heart today. There is a God. He loves us, and He doesn’t give us everything we want. He gives us what we need. For instance, my eyesight is failing. I have no depth perception. I hurt myself all the time, because what I think is there is really too close, and I can’t judge the distance.

If my macular degeneration continues to advance, there are many things that I will
miss. I will miss the sunsets and the sunrises, that I see from my back door. I can no longer distinguish one bird from another. I take pictures of everything, hoping that one day there will be a cure.

If not, then I understand. God has another plan. He always does. I love God, with an incredible passion. He makes me glad to be alive. He fills me as nothing on this earth can. He came to me, not because he needed me, but because I needed Him.

So, you see, Virginia, there is a God. You just have not taken the time to know Him, and blind or not, I will always see Him in the life that I lead. Without sight, I know that my husband’s love is there, because I will be in his loving arms. Even though I don’t see God, with my naked eyes, I know the touch of His hand on my life; I have felt his arms around me. Believe or not, Virginia, because I will keep on believing for you. I will believe, because that is what I do. It is who I am.

Father in heaven, I am well aware that there are those who do not know you. Maybe they don’t want to know you. How sad, for You are so well worth knowing. I know how these doubters, or non-believers, feel, because I was once one of them. They are afraid. I know that. Perhaps by reaching out to me, they will begin to understand the Scripture verse, “See the lilies of the field. They neither spin nor sew, yet not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.”

We have a God who loves the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. If He loves them, then how much more He must love us, each of us. So, Virginia, as long as there are birds that sing and flowers that bloom, we can be assured that God is real and that He loves us.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Honor, Integrity, Trust By Jaye Leiws

Hello friends,

I’m reclining here on my messy bed, trying not to turn up the volume of my T.V. set. It’s on, simply because I haven’t had the gumption to turn it off, and every other channel either upsets me, or scares the heck out of me. Yes, I’m in T.V. hell.

I’m on my second relapse of an upper respiratory infection, which has thrown me into another asthma attack. I’m complicated, or so said a doctor of mine, several years ago, who, basically fired me.

“Get out of my office! You’re too complicated! Diabetic/asthmatics die!” His exact words.

Of course, my answer, had I been clever enough at the time, might have been, “Not without taking you with me, you quack!” Of course, that never came out of my mouth, but it might have felt good, for a moment. However, that doctor had already told me some upsetting news about himself. His doctor had just died, and now where was he going to go?

So, if truth be told, we just don’t know what other people, even doctors might be grieved about. I used to get so mad, that I was just furious, and I’d say anything, but now, I wonder. Isn’t that what this world is coming to? Just a kind of craziness that makes us watch endless T.V. programs that we simply don’t care about.

Even the decorating channel is simply unbelievable. Houses for $300,000 or more, for FIRST TIME BUYERS???? Payments of $2,000 or more?? And, since the bottom has fallen out of every market, how many people still have those homes? Also, why would anyone feel a need to spend $40,000 on a kitchen redo, with granite countertops? It is so unreal.

A home is more than real estate. It is where you go to feel safe. A home embraces you much like an old friend, and, as with people, one’s home should be treated with honor, integrity, and trust. My home is where my heart is, my husband, my children, and my God. Everything I think, and say, and do, is cleared through Him. We did not buy our home for the spa-like master suite bathroom. Bathrooms are functional, must work for the right reasons, and I’m not in competition for the extra sink. Bathrooms, for us, are private and not to be shared at the same time. That’s just my opinion.

We bought our house, because I fell in love with its 55 foot deck and its magnificent view of the mountains. We have planted and pruned and spent 11 years landscaping the outside. The inside keeps us warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I am what you might call a semi-invalid. I do what I can. And if I can do it outside, then that’s where I’ll be. The decorating shows give me some ideas, and that’s all, but I probably won’t go wild, and then wonder how we will pay things off. The market in this area has never been unaffordable; yet there are many homes in foreclosure. It’s sad.

So, I guess the message, today, both for you and me, is this: Let us all live our lives with honor, integrity, and trust, especially to ourselves. Honestly, can I afford the home-improvement? Does my integrity say, sure I can take out this unaffordable loan for a spa-like bathroom? Or anything else? Then trust. The most important virtue. Do I trust God to provide for my needs? Do I have integrity when I promise Him obedience. Do I have honor? Do I honor Him?

These are the things that are on my heart today, as I lay here in T.V. hell. Do I believe the foolish things I see, or do I simply marvel at the stupidity of my fellow human beings? I cannot hold myself up as a shining example, because I have been so foolish in my life; but I’m learning. I’m becoming a more obedient child of God. And I try to be honest in every aspect of my life, especially within, where no one else sees, except God and me.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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