Christmas Eve at Walmart, Lubbock, Texas, 2000 Something

It was Christmas Eve, late in the evening, when I realized there were still some things I needed to buy for Christmas dinner the next day so my sons and I drove over to our regular Walmart. The store aisles weren’t nearly as congested as I expected, but did look like someone had thrown a hand grenade in the middle just to see what would happen. Every aisle looked like it had been looted. Shelves were fairly empty, stuff was all over the floor, and it was a mess! I didn’t even head over towards the toy or Christmas sections of the store because I was afraid those might be where everyone was located given that the parking lot was full and the east side of the store, the grocery section, was so quiet.

I hurried through the aisles, trying to get everything as quickly as possible, because I wanted to do a little baking that night before I went to bed. We were living with my dad then, partly to keep him company after my mother passed away, partly to combine household expenses to a more economic level for both of us, and partly to watch after my dad who was getting a little bit forgetful and confused. He would receive the bills and I would write the checks and pay them. He was so afraid he’d forget to pay a bill that on the day he received a bill of any kind, the moment I walked in the door, he’d hand it to me and have the checkbook waiting on the kitchen table for me to write it out and put the payment out on the mailbox for the next day’s mail. Besides being a little forgetful, he had macular degeneration so could only see the periphery of everything, which greatly limited him for many things.

After I picked up all I needed in the grocery section, my sons and I met at the front and found the shortest line, but still had about three people in front of us, some with groceries, but most with toys or gifts of various and sundry types. The register clerk seemed to be moving rather slowly so the person right ahead of me, snapped at her very rudely. I hate seeing this happen ever and usually try to lighten things up when I get to the clerk.

When I moved up in line, I on an upbeat, chirpy note, said, “Hi! How are you doing? Are you ready for Christmas?!” The young woman said “No,” and then started crying! She was trying her best not to cry, but still, there were tears flowing down her cheeks and she had to clear her throat twice before she could answer. “No! I’m not ready for Christmas and I guess I won’t be this year at all!”

I felt badly for obviously reopening a very new wound, but as the silence stretched between us for a minute, I could tell she really needed someone to just listen to her. I gently said, “What’s wrong, hon?” That’s all the encouragement she needed. “I was working this part-time job at Walmart just to make extra Christmas money so my kids could have a good Christmas this year. I’m a nurse at ** Hospital and I just found out this morning, with no prior warning, that I’m being laid off, effective today! What in the world am I going to do now? This part-time job at Walmart isn’t going to support me and my kids!” Then she started crying in earnest. She had finished checking out my items and I had already paid, but felt she needed a few moments more. I had just learned of the layoffs at the hospital on the evening news a couple of hours before. They were letting over 60 people go due to budget cutbacks. No warning had been given, although some of the employees had heard rumors. This young woman had obviously not heard the rumor.

“Well,” I replied, “Are you a registered nurse or an LVN? Either way, you should be able to find some job in nursing soon, don’t you think? I mean, at least you have good credentials, right?”

“I’m an LVN and I do have good credentials and a good reference, but if the main hospital in town is laying people off, I don’t know if there will be any good nursing jobs in town available.”

“Oh, I had not thought of that,” I said. One thing I did know was that healthcare workers were usually in high demand. I couldn’t understand why the hospital had laid off that many people when healthcare workers are in such high demand, especially LVN’s and RN’s. Suddenly struck by inspiration, I asked, “What about jobs in home health agencies? Have you thought of that? We have a nurse from a home health agency who stops in to see my dad a couple of times a week to treat a knee he hurt when he fell out of a tree recently.”

“What?! Your dad fell out of a tree? How old is he anyway?”

“Oh, he’s 90 years old and if I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a hundred times to stay off the roof of the house and to quit trying to trim his trees by himself! But did he listen? Oh no! He decides while I’m at work that he’ll climb up that old maple tree and cut out the deadwood in it. In the process, the ladder slipped, he started falling, and the only thing that stopped him was the fence. He landed on the fence, hung by his knees, totally upside down with his feet on the outside of the fence. He’s a strong old guy, but he didn’t have the strength to pull himself upright on the fence and get down. If his mail lady hadn’t happened to see his feet and know him, I don’t know what would have happened to him! She helped him down, took him inside the house, and found my emergency number. I went home immediately and looked at the damage. The spikes on his fence had dug into the backs of his knees and left bad, deep wounds. So, I took him to the doctor and the doctor prescribed a home health nurse to give him antibiotics by injection and to keep an eye on the wound. She loves her job, by the way. She said she has been much happier in home health than she ever was working at a hospital. I know the name of the agency where she works and could give you a referral there if you like. My husband used to be their accountant.”

At that point, the clerk came right around the counter, grabbed me, and started crying again, but this time with hope and relief. “Do you really think I could get a job at that home health agency? You’re not just saying that?” “Yes, I do think you could get a job there. How long did you work at the hospital?” “15 years.” “Oh, wow, then sure I think they’d hire you! Call Brad at ** Home Health and tell him that Dee Lane suggested you apply there. Tell him everything! It’s worth a shot anyway, right?” The clerk hugged me and I hugged her back. I told her not to ever give up hope because there was always hope and a way to get back on track. Then I said, “I know I just met you, but I really care and God cares even more for you!”

My sons had already gone outside. They were embarrassed, I think, by one more instance of their mother getting caught up in an emotional moment with a total stranger. I gave the clerk one last hug and then followed them outside, tears rolling down my cheeks. “Mom! What are you crying for and what took you so long?” I pulled out a tissue to wipe my face, handed off our shopping basket to one of them and as we headed for the car, I told them about the clerk’s predicament. “You know, boys, I just received my Christmas present for this year. I was honored that she talked to me and that I could be there to offer her encouragement and hope. You know we’ve been in dire straits before and people have popped up out of nowhere to help me all along. It was nice to be able to be the person offering help and hope for a change. Besides, your mom is a crazy lady who loves to talk to people! You should be used to it by now!” We all laughed as we got into the car and drove away.

I learned later that the young lady did call the home health agency, she was hired, and they were really happy with her! So what she thought was a disaster ended up being a blessing for her and her children. Just another example of when God closes one door, He leaves a window open to the next adventure. Never forget to really listen to people and pay attention to them. I spent 15 minutes with that young woman and I’ve never regretted it. I mean, really, are we truly in such a hurry that we can’t pay attention to those around us? I know more times than I can even count, people have taken time and trouble to help me, so it’s my turn to pay it forward…

MILO

I want the whole world to know I am now a Grandmama!!

Milo was born yesterday afternoon, 1/24/15, at 4:04 in the afternoon in Aurora, IL. He weighed 7 pounds and 13 ounces and was 20 inches long. Mama, Papa, and baby are all doing well, although little Milo did put his mother through a long and arduous labor.

Grandmama Lane, who had anxiously been “nesting” at home and awaiting news of progress of the labor and delivery yesterday, had this to say when she finally received the call that her grandson had been born, “Oh! It’s a boy!! Is he ok? Is Erin ok? I’m SO excited!” and then proceeded to do the happy dance right in the middle of the living room floor and in front of God and everybody. Grandpapa Lane was quoted as saying, “So it’s a boy! Are Erin and the baby both doing well? Oh, good grief, Dee, quit that!! You’re going to hurt yourself!!” Needless to say, Grandmama and Grandpapa Lane are very proud of the new addition to the family!

Of course, being the sentimental poet that I am, had to write a poem after I slept long through the night to recover from my happy dancing.

MILO

Milo,
one new little human.
Another branch on
a large family tree
that has been battered,
riven, grafted, and
survived to put on
new branches and
leaves of love.

Milo,
a four letter word
attached to a precious,
new little boy
who made me a
grandmother.

Milo,
a new sweet,
tender spot of love
that instantly grew
in my heart forever.

Milo,
a little boy who
I hope will call me,
“Grandmama,”
in that sweet little
boy way that
melts hearts.

Milo,
a new son who
gave my son a
completely new
gentle, mature, proud,
tone of voice instantly.

Milo,
I can’t wait to
meet you and
hold your little
body in the same
arms I held your
dad in when he
was brand new too.

Milo,
a name that will
always equal
LOVE to
all of us.

Milo,
we thank God
for the blessing
of you.

©D. Elaine Wood-Lane
1/24/15

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Fibromyalgia Jiggity Jig

I slept,
I read,
I vacuumed
the house.

Now this gal
feels as weak as a mouse!

My limbs are
all shaking.
My face is
quite pale.

It’s a little like
after,
running a
mountain side
trail.

I was always
quite strong,
though not very big.
I could work
round the clock,
I could dance,
I could JIG!

I don’t like
fibromyalgia,
oh, no I do not!
It makes me feel old
and not very “hot.”

But one thing I’ve learned,
through this thing
that I’ve got,
is strength of body
doesn’t matter,
oh no it
does not!

If you love and
are loved by God
up above,
if you have a
strong spirit,
and never give up,
you can still have
great joy,
and inside your dreams,
you can still run up
mountains and
jiggity jig!

© Elaine Wood-Lane
1-5-15

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Christmas Morning Is Nearly Upon Us

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Christmas morning
is nearly upon us,
there are only last minute
things to do.

Children are filled with excitement,
Well, frankly, I am too.

We no longer dream,
of sugar plums,
dancing,
in our heads,
but we all dream
of something fantastic,
while aslumbering
in our beds.

Santa Claus is coming,
little kids sing with glee,
but is he enough to
save the world,
or even you and me?

I believe we need a savior,
one holy, and lovely
and true,
to save everyone
in the world,
even me and you.

Christmas is
about forgiveness,
joy, love, and great peace,
not material gifts at all,
but a story of our
soul’s sweet release.

A baby was born,
on the first Christmas morn,
God in the flesh you see.

He came with great love
and forgiveness,
of that
we should sing with glee.

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:1-14

The Birth of Jesus
​At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (NLT)

This is what we have to celebrate tonight, tomorrow, and every day of the year! The Savior was born in a humble stable, safely, amazingly, miraculously, of the virgin, Mary. He was God in human form and came for one simple reason: God loves us all. God loves YOU. He loves me. He loves the sinner, the saint, and everyone in between. He loves us all! Now THAT is truly something to celebrate, right?!

May God bless you and keep you safe. Merry Christmas! dewl 12/24/14

Little Ones at Christmas

We had two of the cutest little kiddos with their grandmama bring by a Christmas goodie plate and card. They were absolutely adorable! The older child was about 4 and a beautiful little girl. The younger tyke was about about 2 and a boy. They were both wearing Santa Claus hats. The little boy was totally enchanted with our nativity scene, so much so that he tripped and nearly fell over himself, but then…save! He was fine! He didn’t even skin his knee!

Little ones are such a joy at Christmas. If God’s little one had not been born, we wouldn’t have Christmas to celebrate. We were all little ones once upon a time. We were innocent, pure, and sweet. We didn’t even know what we didn’t know.

I think God sees us as His precious little ones. We, too, no matter our age, don’t even know what we don’t know. His wisdom, strength, and love are so much greater than ours. Don’t you imagine when He sees us stumble, His breath catches in His throat and then….save! We are fine. He was with us all along. We might skin our knees, our pride, our relationships, and even our spirits sometimes, but if we reach out our little hands to Him, He will catch us….save! We are fine!

God Will Never Let Go

Nothing like getting up at 3:00 AM is what I say! I finished crocheting a shawl, did my bible study, and talked to God. There are so many people out there right now who are struggling and hurting. I consider it an honor to pray for them and to thank God for all the blessings He has given all of us. In the dark valleys of our lives, it is so easy to not see the blessings that are there too. Today, look for the blessings and see what good things God is doing for you. You aren’t alone in that dark valley. God is holding tight to your hand and He’ll never let go. I can promise you that because He’s never let go of me, even when my hand was trying to slip from His grasp.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Psalm 139:7-10

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Look for the Blessings

Ecclesiastes 7:10
” Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

http://olivetree.com/b1/Ecc.7.10.ESV

Well. I guess that’s truth! It is easy to look back at the “good old days” in a more favorable light than the present because we’ve edited out the hard times and bad things from our memories. With the present we haven’t had enough time to do that yet.

In the present, we have many good times, but hard times too. When the hard times come, do we fail to see the good times that walk alongside the hard times? I think it depends on our outlook on life. If we’re grateful for everything, bad along with good, then yes, I think we’ll see the good times and especially appreciate them. If we appreciate even the bad times, it is probably because we know that we will probably learn something valuable from them if we just look for the lessons. Or, perhaps we know that God can make all things good, if given the chance. Regardless, if we look at and notice only the negatives, our focus can become very narrow and dark, like tunnel vision.

All days are created equal. What happens in them can be tragic or joyful or both. Let us remember from whom all blessings flow and look to the hope of an eternal joy, life with God and Jesus forever. That hope will help us through the tragedies and will be revealed in many blessings. Always remember, God loves you. He’s not out to “get” you like a harsh schoolmaster. If He was only looking for faults and failures in us, would He have given us the ultimate “get out of jail free card,” Jesus, His son? No. If He wasn’t giving us every chance imaginable and more to be free, He never would have given us Jesus.

I’m Not As Crazy As I Appear….Really!

We had a social event this evening after work to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a coworker’s time with the company. Ok, it was happy hour. What I find interesting about the term “happy hour” is that most people seem to require alcohol to be happy. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, I’m happy and act that way even before alcohol gets involved. Give me one and a half mixed drinks and I’m not only happy, but I’m more likely to be extraverted about my happiness. Thank goodness it only takes 1.5 drinks to be more extroverted. Otherwise, I’m afraid the world couldn’t take it. 🙂

The fact of the matter is that, although most people think I’ve always been extroverted, I have not always been extroverted. I often joke about the fact that the older I get, the crazier and zanier I become. When I was in my 20’s, I was quite responsible, dutiful and quiet. I had to be. I became a mother at the age of 22, which I thought was quite mature, but now realize is very young. After my divorce in 1991, at the age of 29, I watched people and observed who created more happiness in the world and who was most acceptable. I realized that the people who created the most happiness put themselves out there to create happiness. I had already discovered that if I put myself out there, I often made people laugh. They loosened up. They were relaxed and happy. So, I practiced. I put myself out there. I let my zany freak girl out of the box! If there was an awkward social pause, I was your girl. I’d jump in, say something to get the conversational ball rolling, and then sit back and let everyone else talk. Since I was involved with a Christian singles’ group, I was never drinking in these situations. I just had a lot of fun and realized that I was learning much about people and human nature in the process.

Over the years, there have been times when Zany Elaine/Dee came out of hiding to lighten up a mood, relax people, and create a warm environment for others. I never know when she’s going to come out, but when she does, even I can be surprised. So, why am I discussing this tonight? Because Zany Elaine/Dee came out and, as is often the case with people who aren’t naturally extroverted, I tend to analyze myself when the zany girl comes out. I worry that people will think I’m an airhead, that I have no deeper side, no intelligence, no true beliefs or meaning. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love God, I love people, I love life. I’m not a wild and crazy girl 95% of the time. I pray all day long. I talk to God on behalf of other people. I praise Him for all He has done for me, for others, and for all the love He gives me on a moment to moment basis. I study God’s word every day. I write constantly, exploring the big questions of life such as, “Why am I here? What is my purpose? What would Jesus do?” I often beat myself up because I think Jesus wouldn’t act like the nut job that I do. The one thing I have in common with Jesus is that I love God and I love people. How I express that, perhaps, isn’t quite so appropriate. Or maybe it is, for me. I don’t know. I’m 52 years old and I’m still not sure how best to serve God and be like Jesus. All I know is that I’m still trying and still seeking to find the answers. Hopefully I’ll discover soon what it’s all about. If not, Lord help us all when I’m 80! I’ll be hugging strangers at every opportunity and telling inappropriate stories too. I’m sure none of us want that. 🙂