HAPPILY EVER AFTER

By Lisa Huddleston

When I was a young girl, my best friend, Marilyn, and I used to sit with crayons and notebook paper and map out a future we called, “Castle in the Clouds.” In that castle, I had a husband who loved me, children (at least 3), dogs, and a sweet homey house. I didn’t plan for riches or great adventures or notable discoveries. I wanted a simple, quiet life. And I got it all, and I lived happily ever after.

Swoosh! Just like that. I met my husband-to-be in high school, started dating him in college, and we married a year into his medical school training. A month after his first paycheck in residency, I was happily expecting baby number one, and numbers 2, 3, and 4 followed like a string of daisies–with number 2 sadly ending unexpectedly in a miscarriage. Despite that heartbreaking disappointment, most things went according to plan. Of course, we had all the typical struggles, but we lived a very happy and very good life. And it flew by faster than I ever could have dreamt.

The only problem I have with all of this is that my plans were very short-sighted. I never considered what the “happily ever after” would contain. In some ways, that makes this time of my life unhindered. I am free to create whatever I choose (short of being young and starting all over.) In many ways, that is wonderful, and I know it seems so to those who are just beginning their journeys and are longing for a day off. But in other ways, it is frightening. What does one do when all her dreams have come true?

She may have to find new dreams, build new castles in new clouds. Oddly enough that seems to have brought me back to parts of myself that were present in the little girl with the crayons, but they never made it on to the paper. Things that I could and still can do all on my own. Like writing things and making things and loving things like dogs and cats and goats! Quiet things that will not make headlines nor win awards, but will still bring joy to my heart and populate my cloud-filled dreams.

Many days I am filled with fear at even the idea of trying to make these dreams come true. What if I can’t protect my goats from coyotes or dogs–even my own dogs? What if I never will be able to learn how to warp properly that creaky floor loom I bought second-hand from a woman who taught herself how to use it (no pressure)? What if my writings never speak truth to another soul and remain forever unnoticed? What if my old dreams were for young dreamers only? I really do struggle to the point of going days even weeks without making even a tiny step forward.

Then there are days and weeks when something nudges me like an elbow in the ribs–it may be Hope but it just may as easily be Despair. I watch three “How to Warp” youTube videos that remind me that people have been weaving their own fabric for centuries. Chuck and I settle on the fence we want for the goats who will be coming as soon as they are weaned–and, yes, people have kept goats for centuries. And I sit down to write a blog post that will be read by at least a few others who will be women my age who are trying to live in the “happily ever after” days of their lives, too.

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TABITHA, GET UP!

Mother and daughter walking arm in arm along trai

By Lisa Huddleston

 

Today’s sermon came from Acts 9:31-43. My pastor’s well-thought and well-taught points were:

  1. Follow Jesus’ example
  2. Depend on Jesus’ power
  3. Point others to Jesus

Clear, to the point, and well-supported by the text.

 

I sat where I usually sit. Comfortably snugged in between my sweet daughter on my left (with her sweet husband to her left) and my equally sweet husband on my right. We all heard the same words, we all read them on our various devices, and we all processed the points that were projected on the screen; however, we did not receive the same message. At least my daughter and I did not.

 

And here is where our paths diverged:

 

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity. In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs.

 

To cut this a little shorter, Peter was nearby so they had him hurry on over to see what he could do. The people figured Jesus had raised the dead, and Peter seemed to be following along in the healing business—maybe there was still time.

 

When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them.

 

And Peter actually did it! Following the good example and in the powerful might of Jesus, Peter told Tabitha to get up, and she did!

 

This became known in Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

 

And that’s where the sermon diverged for my daughter and me. She heard that “nothing can hold God back when He chooses to act.” And those were the very words our pastor spoke, and they were and are very true words. And my daughter is young and has big dreams and sometimes what seem like impossible aspirations, and she left encouraged and inspired and quite full of hope.

 

I, however, am not young, and my dreams have grown smaller and smaller, and I heard these words, “Tabitha served people however she could. She looked them in the eyes, and she sewed clothes for widows and blessed others with her needle and thread.” Okay, that’s actually a paraphrase of Pastor Jim’s words, but it was the gist of what I heard and jotted in my journal. Tiny dreams that still mattered. Sewing clothes for widows whose husbands had been lost at sea and who probably would have worn rags without Tabitha’s caring for them.

 

And both sermons were preached today, and both sermons were true. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

 

 

THE BENEDICTION

By Lisa Huddleston

Every weekday my husband rises early and stealthily makes his way to the bathroom in the dark.  And because of the fashionable transom windows over our bathroom doors, he kindly (but unnecessarily) dresses in near-dark using only the dim light from my makeup mirror.  He is being kind.  I feel guilty.

After he dresses, eats his breakfast, and feeds the animals, he stumbles back to our bed and crawls in.  His hands are freezing as he places them on my sleep-warmed skin—belly, arms, legs—wherever they land.  It often shocks me, but I don’t complain (too much) because he has to get up and get going while I am lazily lying there half-asleep.

And then he prays for our day and the days of our children and our friends.  And I am blessed.  The benediction.

This morning I was stranded in a terribly sad dream.  The house was in disarray.  Chuck was moving out, and I couldn’t understand why, and I couldn’t get out of my tousled sheets, and I couldn’t stop crying.  Paralyzed by grief and heavy sleep, I couldn’t move a muscle.  I was trapped in the despair of the dream.

Then cold hands gently eased around my waist.  On some days I may have yelled, “Hey you!”  But today I rejoiced.  Cold reality shocking me out of the deadly dream.  Pulling back the heavy blankets and allowing  me to receive the benediction of the day.  And I was blessed.

Amen.