Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Little Stuff (Part 1)

I've been away a while. Mostly I've been at my other blog site: ... if you want to try to catch up. There, on Monday-Thursday, I write about Southern things. Tunes. Recipes. Books I'm reading. And on Fridays, I tell a little more about our story of faith during one of the most difficult periods of my life.

This site, 1 Writer, 1 Day, was originally meant to talk about my journey as a writer. But even I didn't find it interesting. Then it became about walking out my pain after losing my mother suddenly and unexpectedly. Then, this really awful thing happened (see above) and even that stopped.

So, now ... with my life back in some semblance of order (at least for today), I'm going to start something new. The Little Stuff.

This is about The Little Stuff I find while in the Word, the Bible. While studying to teach or while studying for class (I'm determined to get my Masters in Old Testament Theology before I die!).

So, here's the first thing, thus the Part I:

I'm studying the book of Exodus for my class entitled (you guessed it) Exodus. In my notes I wrote:

     The Frogs
     The Gnats
     The Flies
     The Boils
     The Hail
     The Locusts
     The Darkness

This is not a complete listing of the curses raining down on Egypt when Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, just the ones with only two words. The two-worded curses. Sounds like a category in Jeopardy.

It will be so dark, the Lord said, you will be able to feel it.

Now, that's dark.

I've never liked the dark so much. I slept with a nightlight on as a child and I continue to do so to this day. I don't like walking into a dark house. I don't like being in a dark room (unless I'm flat on my face on a massage therapist's table, there's some soft music playing, lavender candles flickering, and I'm draped in a sheet). Feeling darkness would, for me, be a really, really bad curse.
Darkness & Fog Fall On My Old Neighborhood
c EvaMarieEverson 2009

I remember the first time I spent the night with a childhood friend who lived "out in the country," as we called the rural parts of our Southern community. There were no street lamps, like in my neighborhood. And, that night, there was no moon. Or, at least none we could see. I'm sure it was still out there somewhere. Tina didn't sleep with a nightlight like I did and I was too proud to tell her how scared I was without one. So, when she flipped her bedside table light off, the room went DARK. I held up my hand to ascertain if I could see it. I could not. I wiggled my fingers, hoping for a glimmer of movement. Nothing. This was darkness so dark I could feel it. I would say I could smell it, but that was pure fear I sniffed.

Now, looking over the list above, I thought: I hate frogs, I hate gnats, I hate flies, not real fond of boils, really okay with hail as long as I'm inside the house and it doesn't hit my car, and I'm not scared of locusts but they sure might eat up my crop, had I one. But darkness ... Darkness isn't hated by me. Darkness is something I'm afraid of (okay, not the darkness itself, but what might lurk inside).

What about you? Which of these two-worded curses would you hate or fear the most were you in Egypt at the time of Moses' return? Tell me about it. Tell me why.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Come to the Water

To read more about our story, go to: (Eva Marie Everson's Southern Voice)
Before TS Debby

We live on Lake Kathryn in Florida. Over the past few months, dry weather and no rain dwindled our beloved lake to a puddle.

Not really, but so it seemed.

The Rains are Coming
Sitting in only a foot or less of water, our boat was nearly dry-docked. My husband felt so sorry for it, he brought it out of the water and covered it. The water that typically went to the grass line now exposed grass.

Then Tropical Storm Debby came and brought with her, rain. And more rain. And a few more days of rain. Unable to go outside for much of anything, I sat on the sofa against the sliding glass doors of our family room and watched the water rise through the gray haze of an unending summer shower.

Or so it seemed.
Ducks and Spoonbills play between showers
After Debby

Fun in the Sun Returns
And the water rose. The beach disappeared. The backyard grass became lush. When the storm had passed, birds sang so loudly they could be heard inside. Nature came to roost on our lawn and in the trees and along the beach. Folks brought their water toys back into the lake for afternoons of sun and fun. It was marvelous.
I couldn't help but think how this whole scenerio was like being a Christian. At times, the water seems to dry up. We can't reach it, though it is still there. There is no where to dock our boats so we dry-dock them instead.

And then the water comes. Life is lush again. Full of life and wonder.

Jesus called Himself the "Living Water." He also said, "Let him who is thirsty, come."

When we come to the water (or even when it comes to us, showered down from heaven), we are restored. Renewed. Made vibrant and alive again. The old dust is washed away and life returns to our branches.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come ...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Our Story Continues

Uh ...  yeah. Okay. I've been gone a while. I've been in one of my favorite places on the globe, North Carolina. Specifically, I've been in Salisbury, NC for a couple of days, followed by my annual trip to Ridgecrest, NC for the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.

While there I saw folks I've known for years now. They've "grown up" with me in this business of writing. We've loved on each other, prayed for each other, and kept up with each other's lives. So, hearing "I'm praying for you and your family" was not an uncommon line for me to hear over this past week.

I love knowing that ... Especially from these people, because I know they mean it.

I also got to see two of my favorite people: Laura and LeeAnn. Both diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Both successful. Both agree that it is time for the covering up and pretending to stop. LeeAnn is so open she practically adds her diagnosis to her introduction. Like going to a support group and saying, "Hello, my name is ... and I have ..." Her daughter had me laughing out loud as she talked about her mother's openness.

I love the openness.

So why do so many want to go on pretending? Why do we think BD is any worse than any other disease? Do we think our loved ones--over 57 million Americans have BD--got up one morning and thought, "Wow! I think I'd like to have Bipolar Disorder. Only I don't want anyone to know it. I want to be ashamed of it. I want the world to think I'm okay, when clearly the world will think I'm not."

Bipolar Disorder is not something you buy on the sly at some tacky online store. It's not something you plan. Not an achievement to work toward. It's an illness. Think: a cold. The flu. Pneumonia. Diabetes. Cancer. Cystic Fibrosis. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome!

I've had CTS. It hurts. I had to wear a brace on my arm/hand. People would ask, "Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?" and I would smile and say, "Yep." I didn't try to hide it and I didn't shy away from the treatment, as uncomfortable as it was.

My friend Kathleen was diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago. First part of October. By October 31, she'd gone through not one, not two, but three opinions. Seen several specialists. Had a number of tests. Prayed like crazy. And, by Halloween night, while many walked around in costumes and masks, she'd had a double mastectomy. She wasn't quiet about it either. There was nothing to be ashamed of, so why be ashamed? It wasn't like she'd gone out and bought breast cancer in a bottle, silly girl ... After October 31 and to date, she has aggressively done everything necessary to make sure the cancer doesn't return and that she lives as normal a life as everyone else. She's also a voice among many to those on the brink of the same to say, "It's okay. You'll be okay."

Because that's what you do when illness strikes. You take a pill. Wear a brace. Cut away the bad parts, if necessary. But you don't pretend it doesn't exist. Or that "love and love alone" will cure it. And then you do whatever you need to do to let others know ... it's gonna be all right.

Treatment may not be painless. It may not be fun. No one who has undergone chemo has said, "Man, I wish I could do that again!" No one who has worn a brace for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome has thought, "If only I'd have that kind of pain again ... so I could wear that horribly uncomfortable brace ..." No one who has taken several types of medication before finding just the right prescription, undergoing the side affects but wanting to get better more than wanting to stay sick, ever said, "Goodness! If only I could go through the vomiting ... the diarrhea ... the headaches ... the hallucinations ... just one more time for old times sake."

But to get well ... to get better ... to live life ... we'll do whatever it takes. Because human nature is to live life. To survive, even.

So let me ask you a question ... if your child were diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, or any disorder, would you want your child to live life ... or go through it sick? And, would you allow your child to make the decision as to whether to live life as normally as possible or to live life sick? Would you insist on trying anything ... everything ... to assure they can reach adulthood, happy and whole?

Or would you hide behind the lies? The lies that say this disorder is to be ashamed of. This disorder is the worst of all disorders. This disorder you could help ... if you really wanted to. The lies that say this disorder will keep you from any dream, any goal, any life whatsoever.

What would you do?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Come Heal With Me: Thou Shalt Not Steal

Thou Shalt Not Steal

Notes from the Book: God's eighth rule for life, "Thou shalt not steal," is the foundation of our entire economic system, because it recognized the fact that one has a right, a God-given right, to work, earn, save, and own.

Actually, no person owns anything. All belongs to God, but while man is on earth he has the God-given right of possession. To deny any man that right violates the very basis of God's creation.

"If any would not work, neither should he eat" (II Thessalonians 3: 10).

(What denotes stealing:)

"What belongs to my neighbor belongs to me and I will take it." the robber, the embezzler, and all the others.

Living beyond one's means. To go in debt without a reasonable probability of being able to pay back is stealing.

To fail to give an honest days work is also stealing.

We can also steal from another when we withhold from our fellows ... How can I give to God what is rightfully His? There is only one way; that is in service to others. So the positive meaning of "thou shalt not steal" is consecrated service, both of my material resources and of my life.

Notes from Mother:  All that we have God has given in one way or another.

My Notes:  Mother didn't write a lot in this section and I think I know why. Mother was a giver. She believed in tithing and offering, not just of her money (which was tithed to the penny) but also of her service.

When Mother retired, I thought I would now find her sitting before the television, knitting, enjoying her "shows."  She watched The Young and the Restless from the day it first aired until the last day she physically sat before a television (her last few days were spent with me at Ridgecrest). She often said she didn't really care about it ... but she had to keep up, I guess.

Mother also enjoyed anything featuring The Gaithers. She had hours and hours of Gaither Homecoming shows recorded. She adored the "Love" movies which aired on The Hallmark Channel, made from the Jeanette Oak books. Just last night I saw a new one was airing. I was on the phone with my brother and I told him, "Here's one she never got to see."

"Gosh, she loved those movies," he said.
"Sometimes I'd walk in the house and she'd be sitting there watching one. I'd say, 'Don't you have that recorded and haven't you already seen it about a hundred times?' and she'd answer, 'Yeah, but I just love to watch them.'"

I'm on a rabbit trail. The point is ... Mother actually, honestly, rarely got to watch television. She was too busy volunteering. Helping others even younger than herself. When I called and got the answering machine, I'd leave a message that said, "Now where are you?"

The answer was that she was nearly always out helping someone else. Driving someone to a doctor's appointment. Picking peas or beans, shelling them, and taking them to someone who couldn't. She volunteered so many hours at the nursing home (where some of her friends lived), she was named Volunteer of the Year (she rode the float as such in the Livestock Parade just two months before her death), and a butterfly garden was dedicated to her after she died.

When Mother died, a lot of people said, "We sure are going to miss her." I knew what they meant, of course. But I also know they'll miss her service, which included her gift of giving financially, her smiles, her laughter, her willingness to play Bingo with the elderly or serve hot dogs during a picnic, to shell peas (probably while watching one of her shows!), and to drive those who no longer could wherever they needed to go. To listen. To give the best advice.

To just be there.

Mother was a giver. I want to be known as a giver, too.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Come Heal with Me

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

Notes from the Book:  Morris Wee teels that one day his theological professor said to the class, "About fifty percent of all human misery is caused by the violation of this commandment." That seems an extreme statement -- "about fifty percent ..." The students did not believe it, but after a score of years i the ministry, Dr. Wee says he now knows it is so. Sit with me in my study in a church on a main thoroughfare of a great city. Listen to my telephone, ready my mail, talk with many who come in person. You, too, will begin to believe the professor was right.

Adultery is violation of the marriage vow of faithfulness to each other.
It is wrong because God said it is wrong.
It is wrong because it brings further wrong. Sorrow is a wound.
[Jesus] hated the sin but never ceased to love the sinner.

[In John 8]: Now comes one of the grandest scenes in the Bible. The matchless Saviour is alone with the woman. Not one harsh word comes from His lips. Not even a look of rebuke. Instead, gently and tenderly He says, "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more."

Mother's Notes:  SR (sexual relations) between married person and another not their spouse. Voluntary SR between unmarried.

Psalm 32 & 51
Proverbs 5,6,7

1 Co 6: Body is the temple of the Holy Spirit

Cover of darkness

My Notes: I turned to this portion of the book with trepidation. My father, as much as I loved him, committed adultery against my mother (and, subsequently, his children). He--like the woman in John 8--made amends with God, but the damage was severe. My mother, living in a small community where she and Daddy reared us--was forced to hold her shoulders back and keep her chin forward in the midst of personal heartache and sorrow.

"Sorrow is a wound" the author wrote.

Mother circled the words. How well she knew. But her grace and dignity taught me more about the person of Jesus than a month of Sundays sitting on a hard pew. Her forgiveness taught me how to love more deeply.

And my father's sin taught me that, without Jesus, we are all sinners--the adulterer and the gossiper.

"We are all sinners," I heard a convict-turned-prisoner once say. "Some of us rob liquor stores and some of us tell little white lies. But we are all sinners."

When I die, I wonder, what will people remember about me? Mother was far from perfect (actually, she was pretty close to perfect ... but by my standards) but her imperfections are not what I remember. What I think of, when I remember her--which is constantly--is the faith by which she lived her life. My father, even after the divorce, called her "a fine lady."

Even when I think of Daddy, it's not of his mistake, but his work for the Lord as a repentant and saved man.

When I think of them both, I remember her sitting by his hospital bed during his last days. Quietly they watched an old movie while their children took a break from death and dying. Not a lot of words were spoken, she told me later, but not a lot of words were needed.

When my father died, Mother wrote a letter and slipped it into his suit coat pocket he wore to the grave. In it she wrote: While our marriage did not survive, I will always love you as the man who gave me the two greatest gifts of my life, my children.

When I die ... what people remember about me depends on what I do now. Not what I have done ... but what I do.

Photo: Bracker (1924) Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery 
art by M Leone Bracker (1885 - 1937)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Come Heal with Me

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Notes from the Book (God's Psychiatry): God made us to live with each other, and the very process of living requires certain rules. God laid down five rules for us to live with each other. The first one is: "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13).

This applies (first) to our own selves. We did not create our lives, and we do not have the authority to destroy our lives. The very fact of life carries with it an inescapable obligation to live.

Murder, too, is prohibited.

Also forbidden are the destructive emotions of men: fear, hate, jealousy, anger, envy, anxiety, excessive grief, and the others. To counteract them requires developing within our lives the healing and life-giving emotions such as faith, hope, laughter, creativeness, and love. Love, for example, is a process of giving.

Positively, it means to live and help live.

Mother's Notes in the Margins:  Mother's mind was ablaze with questions, it seems. She wrote:

have the car checked
war & self-defense
mercy killing by doctor
capital punishment
kill by our words
God values life

My Notes:  What stands out to me more than anything in this portion of the book is one word Mother circled: anxiety. My mother tended to be an anxious person. She worried about things ... try hard as she may not to. She knew God didn't want her to worry, but she did. Her worry came naturally. She worried about my father (who worked in law enforcement) when he was out working a case. She worried about her children (with good reason ... we tended to keep her knees calloused until the day she died). She worried about her grandchildren (who also kept her knees bent).

One thing I can know for sure, when Mother died, she left all her anxieties in this world for the joys of heaven. As my brother and I sat vigilant by her deathbed, two people called and told me the same story. Just recently, they said, Mother had expressed her desire to leave the worries of this life for the face-to-face presence of Jesus. She loved her Jesus. More than she loved us. And that's okay by me.

Still, for a year and a half I've struggled with Mother's death. Before I had two seconds to mourn her, another tragedy hit my family that has rocked me far more than losing Mother or Daddy. Their deaths make sense in the light of this. We live our lives and, if we are Christians, we die to gain our reward.

So, for a year and a half, I've been tossed like a ship on the Galilee during a storm. Then, about two weeks ago, I admitted something out loud that I'd only toyed with in my mind. "I don't want to die," I said to a friend. "I just don't want to live any more."

Just saying it out loud ... and the healing began. Don't ask me why. I don't know.

I do know enough to know that death by my own hand is not what God has in  mind for me. His desire is that I lean into Him and trust Him with ... my life ... and my death, which will be at His command. Not mine.

Meanwhile, I have a life to live. I have a life to give. 

Father God ... let the healing not only begin, but continue in the days, the weeks, and the months ahead.

"I am ready."

[photo by Eva Marie Everson]

Friday, August 26, 2011

Come Heal With Me

Honor Thy Father and Mother

Notes from the Book: God gave us ten rules to live by. The first four deal with our relationship to Him. The last five deal with our relationship with other people. The fifth rule has been called the centerpiece of God's law. "Honor thy father and mother" involves both our relationship with God and with our fellow men. When God made man He also set up the pattern by which men must live together. First a man and a woman come together in marriage, and out of the union come children...As the child learns to love and respect its parents, so later does it love and respect God.

1) the parents must be honorable.
2) the children should recognize, respect, and love their parents.
3) we must recognize our debt to the past and be thankful for it.

Mother's Notes Written in the Margins: Mother had a lot to write in this portion of the book. Not only did Mother have a lot of respect and honor for her parents (even with their imperfections) she had the honor and respect from her children. My brother and I knew, without a doubt, that our parents loved us. They were far from perfect, but they were the perfect parents for us.

One of the notes Mother made struck me. "Grow up to be like the parents" she penned. This was close to a paragraph that tells of a mother who took her son to the zoo. When he saw some young wildcats in a cage, he asked, "What are those?" The mother answered, "Wildcats."

Like most children, he pondered for a moment and then asked, "Why are they wildcats."

"Because," the mother said, "their parents are wildcats."

My Thoughts and Notes: I understand not everyone is blessed with loving parents who also love Jesus. I know that many who may read these words will say, "My mother never touched me...hugged me...said she loved me..." or "My father's way of showing love was a roof over our heads, a meal in our stomachs and a strap if we misbehaved."

I understand. I just was blessed otherwise. There is not a day that goes by that I don't pray my children will see me with the same love and respect as I had for my parents. If anything, their amazing parenting is one of the things that makes me miss them all the more.

My husband did not have such parents as I had. Yet, he is a marvelous father. But his greatest joy is seeing that his children are better parents than he. His prayer is that, whatever he got right, they will imitate and whatever he got wrong, they'll learn from...grow better from.

If you have good parents, give them a call or go into the next room and say, "Thanks. Even for the things you didn't get right. Thanks."

If you had good parents, give a thanks to God and set your mind on imitating and doing better.

If you didn't, I ask you to look beyond what they were to you and try to see what their parents were to them. Then, with prayer (and therapy if you need it), you be the parents to your children you always wanted your parents to be to you.

Mother and Daddy: I love you. I miss you. You were the best!

(Photo taken of Eva Marie Everson and Van Purvis with Betty Purvis (top), Eva Marie and Van with Preston Purvis (bottom) c. 1962.)