All posts in Family Life

27 Years of Maritial Bliss

Yesterday morning, before Tom headed off to work, we leaned against the headboard for a few minutes of communication. (Coffee already consumed) Our conversation consisted of the usual chit-chat about schedules, chores, and other responsibilities.

As we rested before a long day, light sneaked in our windows. Hummingbirds flew past our porch. We giggled. I thought of how comfortable I felt with my husband. I mean, it’s been 27 years of marital bliss. And 27 out of 34 ain’t bad.

I guess when I glanced over at my husband of 34 years, I noticed his gray hair, and how he looks a lot older than when we married. I know I look much older, too. But, I guess what I’m trying to say, is that when I looked at him, I felt not only love but respect that comes from the long, sometimes arduous commitment of marriage.

We moved to North Carolina to farm about three years ago without knowing anything about it. (Except YouTube University) He built an infra structure, and grew plants. He tilled and weeded and fixed and harvested. But it wasn’t enough to support us, so about 6 months ago he got a job. He works between 50-65 hours a week for what he used to make in a day. Yet he completes his work with the same diligence, perfection, and dignity.

That’s commitment. That’s honor. That is dignity. And I respect that. I admire him.

We finished our second cup of coffee and read 1 Peter and then we prayed. About our family, our church, and others. We expressed our gratitude to a God that takes us as we are and loves us enough to keep us when we fail.

And I said a prayer thanking the Lord for Tom.

 

 

 

A Tribute to My Mama

As most of you know, my mother passed from here into eternity on March 22, 2016. This is the tribute I wrote and read at her funeral:

Proverbs 31:10 states, “An excellent woman, who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”

Today I’ll share with you some jewels that our excellent mother shared with not only her own family but a host of people whom she served.

Faithfulness is the first gem our mom passed on to us. Proverbs 31:11 says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain.” 

When you talk about Pauline, you’ve got to talk about Ray—they came as a pair. They lived together, worked together, and played together. They not only loved each other, most days they liked each other.

As a teenager, or even as adult when I’d criticize Dad for one thing or another, she always stood up for him and encouraged me to think the best. “Your father is a good man,” she’d say.

And somehow I’d believe her. And she was correct.

The last several years of Dad’s life were difficult, to say the least, but Mom faithfully served him through it all. I’d try to get her to go out with me, but usually she’d say, “I don’t want to leave your father.”

Those who observed our family thought that Mom, or “Warden Wert,” ran the show. But those who really knew us knew the truth—Ray ran the show the show and Pauline did her best to hang on.

And Paula, Paulette, and I are hanging on to Mom’s faithfulness.

The next gem Mom passed on to us is caring. Whenever she visited people or people visited her, she always asked about them individually, remembering the details like the names of their children or parents.

Even in her last days—when thoughts remained difficult to grasp and harder for her to speak, she asked about her children and grandchildren. When they hurt, she hurt.

When word was posted on Facebook about Mom’s promotion to glory countless women who’d been under Mom’s guidance as they grew up said how much mom loved them and made them feel special. For a woman that would stand out in a crowd, had a minimum amount of education, and never signed an autograph, her life made a difference. 

I had the privilege of having my parents live in my home as their health declined. One of my fondest memories of both my parents was the morning devotions at our dining room table. They read a short scripture and an accompanying illustration. Then they pulled out their prayer list. The “list” was extensive and detailed. My children often commented on how many people were on the list—they knew each of them by name and when there were answers.

Both mom and dad cared enough to pray. I’m grateful for that.

The last gem we received from our mother was the gem of encouragement. She believed people could be better than they were and not only told them, she expected it.

I think this is what my children will miss the most. When they came home, Grandma was always there and ready to talk or just listen. I’ll probably never know some of the many words of encouragement that went on in her room.

Mom didn’t mince words. She asked the really hard questions everyone else was afraid to ask. Recently, my son came to visit. Knowing we’d been praying especially for him over the last several weeks and months she asked, “How are you, Micah?”

He hesitated for a moment, “I’m okay Grandma.”

Lying in her bed, she straightened herself up so she could look him in the eye. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Mom encouraged me not only by her life, but also by her death.

The last several months, Mom slept perhaps 18 hours a day. I’d go into her room to check on her after her naps and check on her. Sometimes I’d tell her of my very busy day, or complain about something that had gone wrong. Then I’d ask her how her day had been.

As she lay in her bed, after being bathed and changed and fed—eyes half closed she’d say, “Good.”

The Bible says in Psalms 90 to “Teach us to number our days so that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

I learned a lot from her.

I’d like to end with 2 short stories.

The first was when my father was still alive. Although he couldn’t walk, they’d travel up the block each evening from our house in Florida. Dad in his wheelchair, mom hobbling along with her cane.

One day as I pushed my father and mom ambled ahead of us, Dad motioned for me to bend listen to him.

“There goes the most beautiful woman in the world.” Then he pointed to my mama.

The other story happened about a week before she died. During the cool North Carolina evenings, we’d hoist mom into the chair in our living room in front of our wood stove. On that particular night, I read from the Salvation Army publication the War Cry and then I pulled out the hymnal.

She’d had a few good days in a row and we began to sing.

“When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”

She threw back her head and sang along with every word—not in her low, gravely, old-person voice, but on tune with a young fresh sound.

“That’ll be good won’t it Mom?”

She smiled and said, “Yes it will.”

That night as I prayed, I told the Lord that if he wanted to take my mama in her sleep, this would be a good night.

He didn’t. He allowed her to hold on a while so that I held my sweet mama in my arms and whispered in her ear how much we loved her and what a difference she’d made in our lives as she passed from here into eternity.

I began with Scripture, and I’ll end with it.

Proverbs 31:28-31 states:

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her. Many woman have done excellently but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


Finding Our Family

“Basically, we are on a quest to find our family,” my husband told his Sunday School class.

That phrase stuck with me.

Our job as believers, isn’t to attend church and put on programs or even to have fellowship. Our job, is to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Take a look at I Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” ESV

That is our message. We aren’t responsible if people believe or do not believe–that’s the Spirit’s part. Our part is to share.

In the past, I sure have complicated the message. I got side-tracked. When I look back at it, I believe it’s spiritual warfare. Scripture says Satan roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. He loves nothing more than for Christians to have committees and spend their time bickering over carpet color and concentrating on who’s going to the Super Bowl or the World Series.

I know, because I’ve been there. Or what about when I complain about my circumstances when they are AMAZING. I mean, I know where I’m headed when I die, my life is hidden in Christ. I have the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word to guide me. I can work. I can worship. I can love. I can serve.

So I’m on this planet to tell others the good news. A message of grace–God’s unmerited favor. He sent His Son to earth to pay the penalty for my sins.

So I proudly lift up the name of Jesus. My Savior. My Lord. My King.

So I’m sharing it with you. Because who knows, maybe we’re family.

And speaking of family. Our Christian brothers and sisters are suffering all over the world because they name the name of Christ. Beheadings, crucifixions, and rapes are all part of the persecution that my family is enduring because they love Jesus more than they love this life.

Remember them. Pray for them. Ask the Lord to give you a burden for them. Send them money. That’s what I call my IIH stock. Investing in heaven.

It pays eternal dividends. And when we get to heaven, we’ll meet the rest of our family.

Google Verses Grandma

“So it’s normal for newborns to take short, frequent feedings the first few days, but especially the first 24 hours,” Sarah stated as she unwrapped her newborn son–my grandson, Silas. “Their stomachs are small but double in size within a few days.”

“How do you know?”

“I read several articles about it. Also, when you put Silas to bed, make sure there is nothing in the crib with him. No blankets, no stuffed animals, and always put him on his back,” she instructed.

Sarah wrapped Silas tighter than a Moe’s burrito and handed him to me.

“Does he have hands and feet?”

Sarah grinned.

I took my grandson from my daughter and placed him into his white crib with soft gray elephants imprinted on cotton sheets. No bumpers. No toys. Just baby.

“Looks kind of stark in their. Can’t I put a little something in with him. He barely takes up any space.”

“No, Mom. Things are a lot different than when you had me.”

Tell me about it. Baby straight-jackets, Transformer strollers and a swing that could double as a space ship. I’ve been wondering if babies need grandmas anymore when moms have Google.

In fact, I’ve wondered how I’d even do as a grandma. Never been a “baby” person. While all the other women oohed and aahed over tiny infants, I kept my distance. And when someone just handed a newborn to me, the child invariably screamed.

So my questions was, would Silas like me, and would my daughter need me when she has Google.

The answer is Yes, and I didn’t have to Google it.

Google doesn’t burp the child (I’m an advanced burper…), or change a diaper. Although Google could conceivably sing to my Silas, Google can’t hold him close to its ear and whisper I love you in-between songs. By the way, I sang a 20-minute original musical about all the dogs I’ve ever owned. The tunes were suspiciously similar, but I took great joy filling Silas in on The History of Canines within the Hylton Family set to music.

Google can’t (at least at this point), fix dinner or clean up, or laugh with my daughter and son-in-law. And Google definitely cannot and probably would not pray for my grandson. I do.

A few days after Silas was born, Sarah asked me if I had a great love for him when I saw him for the first time. I had to admit I did not. I was committed to loving him because he’s my daughter’s child and my grandson. I didn’t automatically feel love for him because I didn’t know him.

But after my 20-minute-mini-musical, and lots of burpings, and diaper changes, and staring into his soulful eyes, I can honestly say I do love Silas.

Just this morning, I checked out recent pictures of him. There he was on Instagram–his soulful eyes, and soft mouth. To tell you the truth, I really miss him.

Google is a big help, but it’s not Grandma.

I am.

 

Waiting for Baby

“I’m nervous about the first week,” Sarah confided. Expecting her first baby, she googled everything. I didn’t know I should’ve been nervous since google hadn’t been invented.

I’m glad.

But here we sit in the Starbucks courtyard of UNC Hospital with the prospective grandparents and google or not, we’re nervous. Nervous about the first week and month and year and lifetime of our grandson.

And happy, too.

I’m nervous about being a grandma. I mean, I wasn’t the best mother. Often I yelled. Sometimes I slacked off. Many times I failed my daughter. Yet, here I am.and my little girl going to be a mother.

Who knew almost 28 years ago as Tom and I circled Crest Lake Park in Clearwater, waiting for my water to break that this day would come.

She came into our lives and we were never the same. In the quiet of the night as I nursed her, I marveled at her tiny lips and  small hands that grasped my finger. At three years old, she pursed her lips and defied me, feet spread apart, arms crossed. I remember stating, “Will you just grow up!”

And she did.

Only after she built a playhouse with her dad, and dressed up her little brother in a nightgown and put a fake crown on his head. After she excelled in school and put me to shame. After she stood up to me again one night, calling me to repentance over sin in my life.

And then she transferred to a different school to finish her major and our relationship changed. Softened.

Healed.

Then she married a fine man from an excellent family.

Now she’s going to be a mother.

So David’s parents and Tom and I sit at a hospital Starbucks both nervous and excited.

None of us knows what it’s like to be a grandparent.

I know it’s important.

And worthy.

I think it’s gonna be fun. And heart-wrenching, and amazing.

When I tell someone I’m gonna be a grandma. They drop whatever they’re doing and look my square in the face.

“You’ll never be the same.”

I believe them.

And I don’t even need to google that.