Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Remembrance Box

Remind me, Lord Jesus, of Your Goodness, new every morning. Remind me of how well you have taken care of me and my family and my extended family, Anita and Bible Study ladies. Remind me of love and joy. Remind me that Your hand is over all and in all and that all things are working together for good. Remind me that You are coming back for your bride.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

His ways are good even when we can't see for the darkness. His ways are good even when they aren’t our ways. His ways are good through the valley of the shadow of death. His ways are good when we are lonely because He will come to us. His ways are good when we are struggling because He can calm the struggle. His ways are good when our children have abandoned or forsaken us (and Him) or gone astray because He is the mighty shepherd who searches for the lost one. His ways are good in pain as He is the healer. His ways are good when the road is long and the journey seems too hard to travel for he travels with us.

His ways are good we will believe for this year. We can’t create, change or cure but His ways are good and He can. Think on your blessings, as that is the only way to overcome the darkness of this world. He is the light and His ways are good! Remind me, Lord Jesus, Remind me. (Donna Collins Tinsley)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anita Smith Z88FM Woman of the Week

·    Thank you so much Z88FM for picking Anita Smith as your Woman of the Week! You did a great job of editing my thoughts (nervous that I was) for the program. Anita and all the women she has touched all these 25 years are very happy. What a blessing!
Here is what the winning submission looked like:

     Anita is an encouraging, enthusiastic, impassioned, motivating, spirited Southern woman who inspires us to have faith when things appears dark.
      Although she is now widowed, she regards the Lord as her husband and protector through the storms of life. She was not afraid although alone during hurricanes and continues to teach and mentor women even though an ocular stroke has taken away the vision from one eye.
     If you have ever sat in one of her Bible Studies you would be amazed at the wisdom God has given this woman; but don’t think she is all study and no fun. Even though Anita is in her 80’s, she can out-dance many a young woman at weddings and has even given her time to help elderly people at the assisted living centers get up and boogie to music for exercise.
·                                 One thing that Anita has done that really has encouraged me that a woman can accomplish big goals even in the later years is she recently completed a program to get a degree in Biblical Counseling at age 83. I would love for Anita to win this award to help commemorate her anniversary of teaching women for 25 years this month.
Donna Collins Tinsley                                  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Would you want the Cross that is Tailor-made for you?

This morning at my prayer time, I was thinking about and praying for fractured families. I thought of others that I know in the writing communities that have painful issues with their children like Carol Kent and Eva Marie Everson. Carol learned a new kind of normal when her only son was sentenced to life in prison; Eva is presented with many challenges when emotional issues changed a daughter of her heart, overnight. I thought how we sometimes think that our own cross is too hard to bear and then the Lord reminds us of a sister, walking towards Him and with Him by faith. The happy ending hasn’t happened yet. The way at times is dark yet they press on and pay it forward, trying to bring help and hope to others in their journey.

I remember the story by Sarah Ban Breathnack that told of the crosses that others bore. The angel showed the person around and showed the behind the scenes stories that no one knew about and the woman decided to keep her own, personal tailor-made cross. It was the only one she was capable of carrying with the help of the Lord.

Lord, Jesus help us walk towards You today with joy that we can share in a small part of Your suffering and show us how to deny ourselves that we can follow Your path. It is unseen to many what we go through here and dark sometimes, but You are my bright light of Hope. You are dazzling in fact and the brightness that keeps me going.

Eva and Carole Kent’s books are available on Amazon.com and for more about Eva go: http://www.evamarieeversonssouthernvoice.blogspot.com/2012/02/fridays-southern-style-faith.html

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's, Cool Day or a Painful Reminder?

Yesterday my friend, Lisa updated her facebook about the anniversary of her husband, Rick's accident leaving him a paraplegic. It was 27 years ago. I want to post this in honor of their love and the hard holiday that Valentine’s is for them. I have to say Rick has the best attitude of anyone I have ever met whose wheelchair is a main mode of transportation! I am blessed to have them in my life.

I nominated her in the Resilient category and of course, she won. Thanks, Debra West from the Women’s Lifestyle Magazine. You always honored women and affirmed them in so many ways. I sure miss that magazine!

Lisa Triplett, the adoptive mother of two of my grandchildren is one of the most resilient women I know.
Years ago, while working her way through college she worked at a church daycare center. There she connected with Brandi Triplett, the daughter of a boy she had dated in high school. Rick had been her first date but her Mom felt she was too young at that time for a relationship with someone two years older, so the romance was short-lived. Rick married someone else after High School and was divorced soon after, a single father with a little girl. Rick was now in the Navy out of state and his daughter was living with his Mom and Dad.

Rick and Lisa reconnected through Brandi, seeing each other, writing and by phone calls when he went back to the California base.

In 1985 he asked Lisa to marry him. Plans were made for a December wedding as he was being transferred from California to Jacksonville, Florida. One month after the engagement, Lisa received the devastating news; Rick had been in an automobile accident and was paralyzed from his chest down! It was Valentine’s Day.

Lisa and Rick’s Mom flew to Jacksonville and from that moment to this, Lisa has rarely left his side for more than a few days at a time. In the first days at the hospital his heart stopped four times with Lisa by his bed in the dark of night. As alarms went off on the life-support machines, she prayed, begging God for him to survive. After several weeks he was stabilized and was moved to Hines, VA Hospital in Chicago, where the hours of rehab were agonizing for him. As a young man he had to adjust to a totally new way of life. As he lay on his stomach in a striker frame which caused pain in his neck, head and shoulders, Lisa would sit under his bed so he could see her and read, talk, play his music, and do all she could to help pass the time and accommodating him in any way possible.

The biggest decision lay ahead; what about the marriage? Lisa was told that seven years was the average length for marriage to a paraplegic and she had to go through counseling, learning how to totally care for his personal needs and more.

Easter Sunday, 1985, in the hospital chapel they were married. Rick, still in pain, still unable to sit up in his chair, was in a partial reclining position in his black suit, gazing at his beautiful, radiant bride.

Lisa’s sense of humor is a trait that helps her be supportive to her husband; she joked about spending her wedding night in a motel room with her parents in one bed and she and her mother-in-law in the other. “I’ll bet I’m the only bride in history to spend her wedding night sleeping with her mother-in-law instead of her husband!”

There were years of outpatient treatment that still continue now; Rick is bedridden but with Lisa’s help and care he loves to get out and about in his wheelchair and specially adjusted van. He is a strong, vibrant Christian man who never complains and is a blessing to many.

Because Lisa is always supportive of Rick’s needs she left her family and roots and moved from their home in Indiana to Florida, as the cold weather is too hard on Rick. They had already visited the area when she took him to a fishing tournament on Lake Monroe in Florida for paraplegics. They found a handicapped accessible house for sale in Edgewater. Lisa continues to encourage Rick by taking him to church activities, football games, baseball games, music concerts and more.

Rick just turned 48 years old and has a full life because of the resilient, accommodating, adaptable, cheerful, flexible, rebounding, and unsinkable character of his wife.

A few years ago, Lisa went back to college and graduated with a degree in Health Information Management; she juggled the boy’s and Rick’s care while maintaining high grades. Her parents moved down to give Lisa some much-needed support. But she is a supportive daughter to them and their needs also, when she isn’t caring for, loving, doing field trips, shopping for or playing with the boys.

Lisa won the Women’s Lifestyle SPIRIT award with this story four years ago, so the ages are wrong but everything else is pretty current.

Donna Collins Tinsley

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Another year without Mama, as we put on her gravestone, "You were the best!"

Reposting what a story I wrote a while back. I am posting in memory of my Mama, Linda Lee Wirth Reece Lewis who went home to be with the Lord, 14 years ago, today. Some of you may have already read this, but I hope it is a keeper!

Mama Said

I woke up from the dream weeping, "I want my Mama!" I am 58 years old and she has been dead nearly 12 years. Will the need to reconnect with the one who gave me life never end? Is the cry of grief endless?
I first experienced it on the day that she died. It is uncontrollable, inconsolable. Involuntarily, it came from my mouth. A piercing scream to match the piercing pain in my heart. But in my mind's eye, I flash back forty years. I heard that same scream coming out of my mother's mouth at the news of her mother's death. It is nearly a primitive sound.

I was assaulted with thoughts of things I felt I could have done or should have done. In previous months, Mama had stayed with us for a few weeks to recover from several surgeries. We were in close contact but the week before she passed away, my children had been sick and we didn’t get to see each other.

Our last conversation haunted me. We had always been close and I usually called to check on her every morning. It was about 8:10 AM. I was in the midst of Monday morning rush. “Hi Mom, I’m on my way to take the kids to school and thought I’d see how you are feeling and what you are up to.”
“I can’t talk now, the nurse is here,” Mama said. It was her routine house visit to check her post-surgery wound. How I wished I had said, "Call me when she leaves." Because of such a quick call I spoke no meaningful words and felt a lack of closure.

At her moment of death I thought I would be at her side. Although I reached the hospital before the ambulance got there with Mama she had already passed away at home in her own bed.
“Please let me go in,” I begged the nurse.

“A doctor has to check her first,” I was told. Assuming she was still alive, I waited; but Mama had died at home in her own bed the way she had wanted to go.

It was hard to accept not being with her at the end. I had always tried to be the "perfect daughter." As the oldest child wasn't that part of my job description? Yet I couldn't control the uncontrollable; there is a time to be born and a time to die.

Many times when I have a dream about her I wake up and try to think of all the happy times we had. Mama was raised in the Deep South and there was always an “old saying” coming out of her mouth. Mama used to say, "Men will go after anything in a skirt!" but I'm sure we don't want to go there. As a teenage mother, divorced two times, she was probably trying to keep me from repeating her mistakes.

It wasn't easy for Mama to raise four children under the age of nine alone when my stepfather was put in prison. Her own mother and father had already passed away, and she was left on her own when she bypassed advice to put us in a children's home until she could get her life together. Although, she was a high-school dropout she was smart enough to know it could take a long time, and she wasn't going to be without her children if she could help it. I will forever be grateful that we were kept together as a family. Just sixteen when I was born she was quite a survivor! She loved to dance and I remember thinking what a pretty Mom I had as she danced to "Be Bop A Lula;" she adored Elvis, Dick Clark and the American Bandstand, and Chubby Checker, "Everybody do the twist." And everybody did.
Even though we moved often, she always worked and made sure there was food on the table. She had a lot of common sense and was so generous you would think she was a rich woman. Her employers loved her because not only could she work circles around everyone else, she made them laugh while she did it.

She used to say "It's a great life if you don't weaken," "You have to laugh to keep from crying,” and "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

And Mama always said, "What goes around comes around." That is what I would like imitate. That is why I want to sow seeds of goodness, kindness and love because those are the types of things I want to come back to my family. Bless your children and they will bless you. Love your husband and see what a return you get. It is the principal of "sowing and reaping."
Mama also said, "Only the good die young." This must certainly be true. She died unexpectedly at age 62. Sometimes I try to imagine life with her still here. Many times I have gone over in my mind the things I wanted to do for her when she was alive. Whenever we have a family celebration or are eating at a restaurant, I am often wishing she were still alive and here enjoying herself. She loved to eat and used to say, "I'd rather die than not be able to eat what I want."
Diabetes helped that statement come true.
Mama, if I had you back for even one day, I would treat you like a queen. I would take you anywhere you wanted to go. I would make you whatever you liked for me to cook, carrot cake or the little fancy sandwiches for a picnic. We would find a “Po Folks” restaurant even if I had to drive you from Florida to Tennessee to do it. I would take you to a movie and to the flea market. I would rub your back with alcohol and then lotion and I would wash your tired feet with warm, scented water and my tears. I would pray a blessing upon you and show you how much I love you.
These are thoughts I have when I meditate on my mother. Our relationship had its ups and downs, but it is still the strongest bond on the earth, that mother-daughter connection. I will always remember the things my Mama said and it’s funny, but I seem to be saying a lot of them to my own daughters, now.