LEAVE AND CLEAVE

By Lisa Huddleston

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Here are some thoughts three days before the wedding of my sweet daughter, Sarah Dorothy.  I am certain they will be as disjointed as I feel, but I am compelled to write them down.  It’s how I deal.

Her room is empty.  The room that has undergone several makeovers since she was 7 years old–pink ballerina to purple bohemian to green sophistication.  Now it is dismantled, but it will soon be freshly painted and the residence of Grammy Sue.  A much better location for my mom since it has a private bath.

Sarah is so busy this week. Last minute details.  Multiple short trips to her new apartment, her new home with a bedroom for two and a funky, artsy vibe.

I just want to sit and look at her.  Then I just want to rip the bandaid off and get this show on the road.  I am a crazy woman.  Crazy with love for my little girl and crazy with excitement for the promise of her new life with John.

Sarah and John.  Even their names sound good together.  Like an old married couple.

Chuck hasn’t even gone upstairs since her room has been emptied.  He doesn’t want to see.  He asked me if he should practice dancing with Sarah before Friday.  I love that man.  I love my family.

And I know I will love the new family that is to come.  Show time.

*photo by Ulmer Studios

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MEMORIAL STONES

By Lisa Huddleston

“These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:7)

I recently attended a graduation ceremony that I originally had no plans to attend.  My own!  After two and a half years, I finally completed my Master of Christian Studies degree from Union University.  The reasons I hadn’t planned to walk in the graduation were obvious to me:  1. graduations are long and boring, and 2. I am old, and it seemed silly.

However, my family had other plans.  Chuck insisted that yes I was going to walk.  The kids said the same, and my mom even jumped on their bandwagon.  My oldest son said he had missed all my other graduations, and he really wanted to be at this one.  He was willing to drive all the way from Knoxville to Jackson!  So what’s a girl to do?  I ordered my regalia, we all drove to Jackson on Saturday afternoon, and I found myself lining up in a stuffy gym with a bunch of folks I had never seen before since I had attended classes at a satellite campus.

As I languished in that gym fanning myself with a program, I pouted and watched the other graduates taking group photos and hugging each other.  “I was so right.  This is ridiculous.  I’m here all alone.  I feel out of place.  I want to go home.  Waaaaa!”  Yep.

That is until we began the long walk from the gym to the lawn.  I’m so glad that my husband captured the moment, because it makes me laugh my head off to watch the video of me smiling and floating across that green carpet.  I look as though I have never been happier as I smile and greet people who have no idea who I am.  And the odd thing is that I really was happy—even wrapped in black polyester in 90 degree weather!  Incredible!

After about 600 people went before me, I finally walked across the stage and received my diploma.  Like so many others, the first thing I did upon returning to my seat was to open that puppy up and read my name on that beautiful piece of embossed and signed paper:  Lisa Marie Huddleston, Master of Christian Studies.

And all of a sudden, it was real!  I really did complete this whole program.  I really had reached my goal.  Wow!

When my classes ended in March, my routine of driving to school and studying all week had come to an end as well.  In no time at all other activities had taken their place, and I had almost forgotten all about my return to academia.  Thankfully my sweet Chuck insisted that I ceremonially mark this important time in our lives.  He not only encouraged me to walk, but he bought me a special frame to keep my diploma safe and so that I can hang it on the wall of our study right beside his.

They do look pretty good together.  However his is a little bigger and says “Doctor” on it.  It would look nice to have two that matched a tad better.  You know, just for the sake of congruence.  Until then, I will treasure this stone of remembrance thankful for the blessing of a supportive and loving family and a God who calls and keeps calling me to bigger and better things.

WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?

By Lisa Huddleston

Several weeks ago, my husband and I were making one of our frequent trips to Nashville when he asked me a surprising question, “Is your life how you thought it would be at this age?”

I was speechless.  Not because it was such a difficult question, but because it made me realize that I never had any expectations for this stage of life.  As a young girl I had made plenty of plans for my future.  I was going to make a difference in the world.  I was going to rattle cages and turn over lies.  I was going to set prisoners free and feed the poor.  I was going to do so very much.   And I was going to get married, have lots of children, and be rich enough that it wouldn’t matter that I hadn’t learned to cook when my mother tried to teach me.  But I really didn’t think about what came after that.

I saw no conflict in my then “far-reaching” goals.  After all, it was the day of “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan.”  I was woman—hear me roar!

After college graduation, I married my boyfriend of five years, and my journey began.  I worked wherever I could find a job as my husband pursued his medical career, and baby number one came ten months after Chuck received his first pay check.  Right on schedule with the domestic part of life—but not so in the world changing part.  Reality tamed my roar to a mew, and I struggled some days rocking babies back and forth while looking out the picture window to watch the neighbors come and go in our quiet cul de sac.

Don’t get me wrong.  I loved my babies.  I loved my husband.  The dog was great and even the cul de sac made me happy.  But I still longed to roar.  Sometimes late at night I felt the lion in me stir, but I soothed it to sleep in the quiet to and fro of life.  Hush a bye, don’t you cry, go to sleep little baby …

I think I eventually forgot the lion but from time to time she would roar.  Primarily to protect my brood.  Or my home.  Or my man.  But I mainly led a quiet life.  In fact, I made that my ambition.

It’s been a good life.  It still is.  And so, sweet husband, I want to answer your very good question.  Am I where I thought I’d be?  Yes.  I really think I am.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  My brood gathered round—and those who could not gather called me multiple times during the day.  My sweet daughter made a feast, and I felt so rich not having to cook.  My sweet sons gave me flowers and precious words of love showing me what wonderful, world-changing men they have become.  My dear, dear husband quietly funded the celebration and fed us all with his deep love and provision.  And I received their blessings with joy—a deep, rumbling kind of joy that roars deeply in my core and warms me from the inside out.

Yes, Chuck, I am right where I thought I’d be.  Beside you.  Surrounded by a loving family.  And changing the world one day at a time.  I love the fulfillment of promises that I see in this new, unplanned time of life.  I exult in the freedom to receive unexpected joy and spontaneous blessing.  And I am so happy to have the freedom to pass it on to others.

Yes, dear Chuck, my life has lived up to all my expectations.  Thanks be to God who makes all things beautiful!