“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

So, I did it again. LOL. I got another tattoo. At my age, with my grandma, crepe-y skin. It hurt. And it bled more than my other one. This one has colors. LOL. But it is still small. It’s on my wrist, just like my other one. I’m a tatted-up grandma. Cracks me up, just to say it, let alone be it!! LOL!  I find it so interesting how people look at you when they see tattoos. I know, because I was like that, too. Immediately judging a book by its very colorful cover. It is such a shallow view of life. Truly, it is. I had one of the best conversations on God, the Crusades, and modern faith with the man who tattooed my first one, a year ago. How people choose to decorate themselves is up to them. Some have different colors of hair, or hairstyles, each time I see them. There are those who pierce themselves (which just looks painful to me!!). Others have long, fake, fingernails in a variety of shades. Women wear all sorts of make-up. Then there is jewelry and clothing, the car you drive, the house you live in, the job you have, the church you go to. It is all adornment of some sort or another. Look at Matthew 6: 25-24 below:

Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto [a]the measure of his life?  And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

The Lord cautions us not to worry about our clothing (or any adornment) or the food on our tables, but rather, be concerned, firstly, about His kingdom and His righteousness. And don’t worry about “the morrow,” because today has all its own evils. My tattoo is an “omage”, if you will, to my family. I got a “Forget-Me-Not” flower surrounded by 4 hearts and a little swirling going on, all the size of about a quarter. The Forget-Me-Not is the state flower of Alaska. It is also the flower for Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Both of my parents suffer from them. Our nuclear family consisted of mom and dad, my brother and me. So I got the 4 hearts for us. As my brother and I were chatting the other day, he said when he and I start going dementia on our families, and people comment on it, we can say, “It’s just normal in our family.” And we laughed. As I got tattooed yesterday, I died a little bit inside. Because that is the truth of it. We are losing our parents and more than likely, our families will lose us, too.

As I woke up this morning and saw this tattoo – after removing the bandage I wore all night – I noticed all the blue. LOL. I am not really a blue person. I tend more to greens and reds, and lately, purple. The swirling and hearts are purple. But wow, that is a lot of blue. There is even yellow in the center. LOL. Yellow. Yeah; not my color. And as I thought about seeing it all the time, I realized that it may make me uncomfortable, but Alzheimer’s and Dementia are not comfortable, at all. When my oldest son got a tattoo of the “crown of thorns” around his bicep, I cringed. It was ugly. His comment to me was, “Well, Mom, the crown of thorns was ugly. It is supposed to be ugly. If Jesus could wear it on His head and live through it, I can wear it on my bicep and remember that sacrifice.” Now, he wants to morph it into some sort of Celtic thing with his Spartan helmet for his unit in the Army. He sacrificed much for our country and he will be incorporating that crown of thorns into it. I get that. But when I first saw that gorgeous young man of mine with an inked arm, I actually cried. Because I had grown that baby in my womb and the Lord and I labored over making the perfect skin…and he inked it. LOL. I was not a happy mama! And now I have one more tattoo than he does! He was having a ball, giving me alleluia for getting a second one last night! The stinker.

We memorialize things in this world, to remind us of important events and feelings. The Islamists get this and they regularly destroy statues and memorials to history, because they want to erase it from our memories. “Out of sight, out of mind.” People in the South are tearing down memorials to the Confederacy. It seems stupid to me. The Confederacy is alive and well in all its descendants, as is all of our shared Christian history. Tearing down a memorial won’t erase those memories. For me, I have tattoos to remind me; to give me comfort. They are not for anyone else. They may assault the senses of others; they may cause others to look at me differently or perceive who I am differently…that is okay. If my new ink bothers you and you cannot see past it to see me, I am sorry. Perhaps we were not meant to be close friends, after all.

And I wept, thinking about how my parents will be forgotten themselves, as they, too, forget. Neither of them wants a gravesite. Neither wants any sort of memorial service, either. Both asked to be cremated. My dad is donating his body to a medical school in Texas and when they are done with it, they return the cremated remains to the family; my mom is donating her brain to the Alzheimer’s Association and once they remove it they will cremate the rest and return it to her family (me). So I will have no memorial to visit for my parents. And if I somehow am lucky enough to be gifted with Alzheimers and/or dementia, when my family sees my tattoos on my wrist, I hope they will remember the struggles my parents had, and I had with them, and be gentle and kind to me. That they will see my tattoo of the Cross of Jerusalem and remember how fervently I loved God and fought for my faith – to keep it and witness it to them. My personal “Crusade,” fought and lost and won, for them and for me. That when they see this little flower all wrinkled upon my body, they will recall I waited until I was 61 years old to get it, and that I got it for my parents and for them, too. So none of us will forget each other, as we wade into the uncertain future.

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“…a bold witness…”

Character“We are not guaranteed our next breath.” Our pastor was fond of reminding his flock of that and I am so glad he did, because when life gets unbearable in many ways, I try to remember to thank God that I am still here, breathing.  The alternative is the hoped-for eternity spent in adoration, in the Holy Presence.  I will be glad, as I have said before, to be in the nose-bleed section.  I don’t require up-close-and-personal seats next to the Throne of God.  I do not feel worthy for the good seats!  I will be thankful to just be in the Beatific Presence of God…regardless of proximity!

I often find myself, in my mind’s eye, face down, prostrate on the floor, in deep supplication before God.  I seek not riches, not glory, not fame….I seek to live the life He gave me, to its fullest potential.  I seek to be the daughter that God our Father wants me to be.  Quite often I feel He has far more confidence in my ability to withstand the slings and arrows of life and He allows much more than I feel I can handle all at once, to repeatedly strike me.  In those moments, I remember that I am breathing. I ask for the strength to continue on and to have the right attitude about things.  There are so many examples of Holy Suffering for us in the history of our faith that I could refer to.  So many people who have far outdone my pitiful sufferings, through their giving of their very lives to remain faithful.  Nothing as dire as that here!  We often hear the term said something like, “Oh, that poor person, suffering a dry martyrdom.” In a commentary on the Gospel of Luke at http://www.rc.net, there was this quote:

God may call some of us to be martyrs, but for most of us our call is to be dry martyrs who bear testimony to the joy of the gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord.   What attracts others to the gospel?  When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries.  He will give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith.  Are you eager to witness to the joy and freedom of the gospel?  ‘Lord,  by your cross you have redeemed the world.  Fill me with joy and confidence and make me a bold witness of your saving truth that others may know the joy and freedom of the gospel.'”

That is the sort of attitude I try and maintain, but frankly, it gets rough to do some days.  There are those who have no faith life, or understanding of faith, and their outlook can be pretty negative.  They love, they want to help, but they are helpless with nothing in their lives to stand upon; no foundation in God to rely upon themselves.  And when those sorts suffer, it can create a miasma of negativity you find yourself being swept into.  Having our own, separate, personal issues, as we all do, makes it difficult to maintain a Christian perspective on everything going on around you, as the tide of negativity grabs ahold of you.  And so, I take a deep breath, and I thank God for it.

We have all heard maxims like, “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day,” or “Take it one day at a time.”  They are all telling us what Christ has been saying, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:25-34)  Every once in awhile, we need to be reminded that God is control of this, that through my faith in Him, I am completely taken care of.  Some days it is harder than others to remember this gift from God.  Through my faith in the Ruler of the Universe, I am cared for.  Pretty amazing that a little peon like me would be taken care of; that although through my own free will and choices I freely make, things come to pass that I had not expected or planned, God has “my back.” “God’s got this,” as Mark Hart the Bible Geek likes to say.  Today, I say, “Thanks be to God.”

DidacheAnd today is one of those days when I find myself sighing a lot; sitting in contemplation most of the time.  My son was surprised by his older brother and his family and taken to the zoo today; my husband is off working for the day;  I am alone at home. It is nice to be able to be quiet.  Although our dogs and cat are not happy with me being the sole person at home – there’s less entertainment when there are no children in the house!  This gives me time to reflect on the many gifts God has bestowed on me and mine.  I find myself weeping as I watch a video of my baby granddaughter, riding in her swing, sucking on her Binky, and being a contented little girl. It gives me comfort to see her and it settles my heart, because it is one of the most amazing gifts I have been given – my children and my grandchildren.  I am so blessed to see our family expand, one life at a time.

The blessings we have are the bumper pads in the crib of life.  We struggle sometimes, but we have soft sides to bump into when life gets rough. My grandchildren are parts of me that will live on, will continue on into the future that is blocked from me.  And it gives me such joy to know that they are here.  The rough roads we are now traveling will make the victory that much sweeter; that much more fulfilling.

Elder PaosiosI thank God for all of it – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  These things in life are the fabric of life.  Tapestries are wonderful…on the front side.  Ever see all the tangled and knotted strings on the back of them?  Only God truly sees all our knots and tangles as we present smiling faces to the world; as we give all we have when we are the ones who really need to be cared for.  But in all of this, and all of that, I cling to my faith and I smile.  God isn’t done with me, yet, and perfection takes an eternity to reach.  Thanks be to God for this breath…..