Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who am I?

Who am I?

"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the Earth.... I mean, what does any one life mean? But in a friendship, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, all of it, all the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.”

This was a post that a friend put in her profile the other day. It made me think about so many things. What do others see - when they look at me? How does God see the person that I am? So many questions about what others will “witness” when they remember me . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
(Isaiah 39: 1b)

“Who am I?” has always been a question that I struggle with. I am a wife, a mother, a sister, and a daughter. But I am so much more than words can say. I am a daughter who was abused, a wife who was battered - and yet when you look at me - do you see those things? There are no bruises, no marks to tell the story of my life. Oh yes, there are lines and wrinkles on my face, from years passing by. And there are even lines that my grandchildren trace on my hands. But the bruises that were left from years of hurts? God found them - and healed them - one at a time.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.”
(Isaiah 39:2)

“Who am I?” I am a friend, a lover, and a survivor of so much! I was homeless, and penniless - and still I survived. There was a house full of love, that I still wonder about. I was alone with my daughter, and somehow we lived life. Coffee cans full of change - somehow paid for class rings. And food was always in the house, even when my wallet was empty. It was a time of growing, and learning about me. I was never alone, for God was always with me . . .

“When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched.
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God.”
(Isaiah 39: 2 & 3)

“Who am I?” I am a wife, a mother, a minister, and a counselor. I have learned so much through the years. I spent years trusting no one - and then Ted came along. I felt his friendship - his love - and so much more. It was a moment in time, when he asked me to marry him. And at first, I believed I needed to say “no”. But love persisted, and wouldn’t go away. I loved him forever - and he loved me!

“Who am I?” I am Ted’s wife, Jenny & Mike’s mom, and a grandma to my grandchildren. I love being all those things. But I am more. I am Ted’s partner in this life, and together we share everything. We share bills, and work, and a ministry. But this past week - I lost my part-time job. And now I wonder what I should do next. Should I search out there for work, or spend more time here on writing? What is it that God, wants for my life???

For 10 years now, I have wondered just how to be “me”. I am a minister and a writer, and I tell stories of all that God has done. I write about the miracles I have witnessed in my life. But I struggle with bills, and I struggle with my self-worth. And I wonder what you see - when you look at me . . .

“Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love, . . .
Do not fear, for I am with you;”
(Isaiah 39: 4 & 5)

Years ago I heard a song by Amy Grant. It is a favorite of both Ted and myself. It is called “My Father’s Eyes”. These are the words:

Father’s Eyes
By Amy Grant

I may not be every mother’s dream for her little girl
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world
But that’s all right as long as I can have one wish I pray
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say

She’s got her father’s eyes, her father’s eyes
Eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around
Eyes that find the source of help, when help just can’t be found
Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain
Knowing what you’re going through and feeling it the same

Just like my father’s eyes, my father’s eyes
Just like my father’s eyes

“Who am I?” I hope I am someone that is a “witness” to all that God has done in my life. I hope that when you look at me, you get to see a glimpse of Him.

Do I know what I am going to do next? Not really. But I pray that the Lord will continue to use me to bring hope, and help to those who can’t find it anywhere else. That is my hope - for the rest of my life!

I also pray that God continues to give me the faith to believe in all He has put inside of me. The gifts and talents that are there - I pray that He uses them all. And then I pray for help when I lose sight of “who” I am - - - His precious child!

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God, . . .
Since you are precious in My sight.
Since you are honored and I love you.”

My heart and prayers are with you all, as we face each day not knowing what lays ahead. May God bless you all, keeping you close - as you travel this road we call life. May you too be a “witness” to His Love in your own life. May others see Him - in you!

In His Amazing Love,

Debbie Ayers

Friday, February 04, 2011

A winter Story

Weekly Word - January 27, 2011

A winter story . . .

O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; . . .
Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.

(Psalm 139: 1 - 4)

It has been one of those winters, lots and lots of snow just about every week! We have snow covering just about everything, and everyone seems to be a bit tired of it. So when I went to see mom the other day, we talked about the snow. We also talked about her flowers in the window, and even the puzzles she’s been making. I brought my nail kit, and I was doing mom’s nails that day. As we talked, I told her stories of cleaning all the snow off the roof, and all the snow we have had to shovel. That’s when I mentioned that another storm might be coming. She nodded and told me she had heard that. (with mom’s condition, she seems to nod and agree a lot!). I continued to talk about whatever, and then I mentioned that I might need to work during the storm. As I looked up from her nails, mom’s face seemed to change, and she looked at me with a look I hadn’t seen in, well - a very long time. “You can’t drive in the snow!” she exclaimed. As I looked at her, she turned away from me, but not before I saw her lip quiver, and tears in her eyes. “What would we do if we lost you?” she whispered. I tried to say something; but just as quickly as she had turned away - she turned back - and her eyes were different - - - and she was talking about her flowers again.

The conversation seemed to keep coming back to me, as I drove home that day. As it did, memories of the past seemed to drift back - times that have been gone - - - for a very long time . . .

Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all . . .

It is funny how we see things so different when we are children. Winter and snow were wonderful, when I was a little girl. I can still remember the little hill next to our house, and how big it seemed back then. We loved to slide down it in the snow! We would wait in the kitchen, as the radio would play, hoping to hear our town in the list of cancellations - during a snow storm. As we heard the name “Oxford”, the three of us would jump around the house, yelling with joy! Snow was wonderful, and the more we had - the better!

Even a blizzard for a child, seems wonderful! I can still remember being about 4 years old, coming home on Christmas Eve in one of the worst blizzards. My mom and dad were in the front seats, as the three of us were in the back seat. Wayne was a baby at the time. I don’t remember being afraid, or even worrying as we drove through the darkness - snow everywhere. Robbie and Wayne were sleeping, and I must have been just about asleep - when the car stopped in a snow bank. We were stuck two streets away from our house, and still - I don’t think I was afraid. What I do remember is two big boys coming out of the darkness to help us. They were like our own personal angels, as they carried Robbie and me back to our home. My mom carried baby Wayne, and Daddy carried everything else that was in the car. That night seemed so special to a little girl who believed in Santa Clause - and in miracles!

Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me . . .
(Psalm 139: 5)

I guess we never think about what our parents are going through, when we are children. I didn’t think about what my parents were feeling that night - that is, until I had a baby of my own.

It was February, 1978; and my baby son was not quite 8 months old at the time. I still remember that morning, like it was yesterday. My husband was heading off to work, just as it started snowing. The storm didn’t start off slowly, but with strong winds and blinding snow. It hit so fast; just as I watched the lights of my husband’s car disappear! My stomach was in knots as I went to feed the baby. I wanted to beg my husband to come back, but I had no way to get in touch with him!

It seemed like hours of waiting, until my husband made it back home. Snow was everywhere, and he was only able to drive the car a few hundred feet into the driveway - where it stayed stuck! He had not gone very far that morning, when he realized he needed to turn around and go back home. To this day, I am so thankful he did. That day was the beginning of the “Blizzard of ’78”. We had more snow than I had ever seen in my life! Cars were banned from the roads for days, and we walked to the grocery store to get food for the baby. I have to admit that I was nervous and afraid, but also in awe of something that was so powerful! Walking the streets with Mikey on his father’s shoulders, cars no where to be found, was just amazing! I was so thankful that my little family was together and safe!

I have to admit, that was the beginning of worrying about my children and my family when storms came along. It is also when I started to notice that my parents also worried - - - about me . . .

Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.
(Psalm 139: 4)

As a wife and mom, I spent most of my days taking care of my family. My attention was on them. So to be truthful, I really didn’t pay much attention to my mom and dad. We hadn’t had a very good relationship to begin with, and it just seemed easier to ignore them. I visited with them when we had to, and I would talk to them every once in a while - but that didn’t make our relationship very good. It was a surface relationship, and I didn’t really know if I wanted to make it anything more than that. There had been so many hurts in my childhood, and I didn’t want to feel them any more! I had locked them away, and went on with my life. But I had pushed my parents away - and as far away as I could get them! That’s why it was such a surprise when I brought them back into my life . . .

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, . . .
(Psalm 139: 23)

It took quite a few years of going to counseling before I understood my heart, and the things that hurt inside of me. As I brought my fears and pain before God, I asked Him to heal me. And He did! It took time, and I am so glad that it did. Because during that time, I got to know not only myself, but my family - and my parents.

Over the years, I realized that I had parents who were not perfect - who made mistakes during their lives. They were not perfect parents, but they were the only parents I would ever have. As I grew stronger, I found that I was able to forgive my parents for my imperfect childhood. And then, I was able to let my parents back into my life.

Over the past few years, Ted made it possible to have a relationship with my parents. He made time for them, in our lives. We visited my parents, brought meals as they both were battling their sicknesses, and we spent time doing odd jobs around their house. During that time, I was given gifts of time with my dad. I finally was able to have a “daddy” that was safe and loving. As we would visit, my dad would always tell us to “drive carefully” as we would leave. He had such a fear of snowstorms (and truthfully, I never asked him why - but I often wonder if that blizzard way back when caused him to be fearful). So when the snow would start - my dad would want us to head home. “Call when you get there” he would say. And to this day I can still hear his voice as he would say “I love you” as we would leave. If we took too long to get home, my dad would be calling on the phone - checking that we got home OK. I finally had a dad that truly worried about me - he really did love me . . .

Search me, O God, and know my heart; . . .
And lead me in the everlasting way.

“What would we do if we lost you?” my mom whispered a few days ago. She seemed so afraid, and so young. My dad has been gone for over 2 years now, and mom is growing further and further away from us. But again, God has given me some time to heal my heart. He has given me time with my mom. It hasn’t been easy, but I have been able to take mom out to eat, out shopping, and just spending time talking with her. Her memory isn’t very good, but every once in a while - I will hear a story that fills in not only mom’s past - but mine as well.

I am losing my mom, little by little. She seems to remember my name, and even recognizes me when I visit. But there are days when she tells me she hasn’t seen “Debbie” in a long time. I gently try to tell her that I am there, but she doesn’t seem able to hear me. But then there are moments like this week. Mom knew exactly who I was, and introduced me to all her friends at the nursing home. “This is my daughter!” she exclaimed; and everyone nodded and smiled. I am my mother’s daughter, and that is a gift that I thank God for every day . . .

I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Thy works,
And my soul knows it very well.
(Psalm 139:14)

Over the past few years, I have been blessed with gifts of time - - - time to heal from a heart that had been broken - - - time to see the love that was right in front of me - - - time to learn to love the family I have been given!

Yesterday we had another storm. This one turned into an ice storm. The kind that makes you nervous to go anywhere! So as the rain and ice came down, I called my children. I wanted to know that they both were doing OK. Jenny was having a huge snow storm up where she lives in Vermont. Hearing that she was safe made me feel such relief! When I called Mike, he too told me that he and his family were doing good. As I hung up, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about him and his wife and family. Then I picked up the phone one more time. This time, I called my mom. When mom answered, I heard “Hello?” with a question in her voice. “Hi mom!” I said, and my mom recognized my voice! We chatted about the snow, and she even told me that some men had shoveled off the roof of the home. She told me all about the snow falling in front of her window, and how surprised she had been. I told mom a few little stories, making her laugh as I made them sound so funny! Then I told her I needed to get going. “Thank you for calling me” she said. “I love you so very, very much” she then told me. As I hung up, tears had filled my eyes . . .

Wonderful are Thy works, . . .

Next week is a holiday called “Valentine’s Day”. It is a day to celebrate love in our lives. For me, it is a day to thank God for the gifts of love that He has given to me. It is a time to thank Him for healing a heart that had been so broken, and giving me this life that is so full of love . . .

God is love, and the one who abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, . . .
We love, because He first loved us . . .
(1 John 4: 16, 18 & 19)

It is my hope and prayer that during this next week, you too will stop to look at your own heart. Will you ask God to come into that heart, and become part of your life? When you do, He promises to heal the hurts, and fill you with His Love!

God bless you and keep you, until we meet back here again!

In His Perfect Love,

Debbie & Ted Ayers