The Old Soap Dish

It doesn’t look like much. And to most, it probably isn’t much. Just a soap dish, from K-Mart, one might assume. Probably purchased in the 50’s. Pink plastic with removable drainer. The gold trim of its crown nearly worn from years of scouring with Comet Cleanser. At first glance, one might easily overlook the esteemed position it held through the years.

The soap dish held court at various locations in the old Victorian home—the big yellow house—as it sustained its royal status throughout the years the family resided within.

 
Court was first held upstairs beside the claw foot bathtub. The woman scooped the white Ivory bar from the dish, scrubbing the children’s skinned knees and alfalfa-entangled hair before wrapping each child in blanket-sized towels and carrying them  downstairs, one by one, to the warmth of the oversized heat register to dry and dress in their flannel pajamas.
 
At other times, court was held at the guest sink in the small bathroom, not original to the yellow house but added years later in the empty space under the stairway. The woman placed a new Dove bar (her favorite) in the clean soap dish, and the beautiful, elongated white bar, embossed with the famous dove lasted quite some time in that location.
 
The years passed; the children grew and left the big yellow house; and the soap dish with the Dove bar was removed from its guest sink location, being replaced by liquid soap in a sterile, aloof, pump dispenser.

From that time on, court for the stately container was held in the back room of the old house, aside the jumbo cast iron sink and the old pitcher pump. A large, green coarse bar of LAVA soap now filled the dish, and the man used the LAVA bar several times a day, faithfully scrubbing his aging hands, ridding them of the evidences of hours of labor on his land. The soap dish was often covered with the dirty, dried bubbles of the resultant purification process, thus the woman used more Comet Cleanser, more often to clean the aging pink plastic dish.
More years  passed until the old man and the old woman  sadly left the big yellow house. The old pink, plastic, soap dish rested alone and nearly empty, filled with but a sliver of a coarse bar of soap and covered with dried pumice. The dish was nothing but a simple, quiet remembrance of the old man, the old woman, and the family who had once inhabited the royal surroundings.
 
The little girl who had years before overlooked the pink, plastic soap dish and to whom the soap dish had once seemed silly and unimportant, had grown up, and one day, while browsing the back room of the empty house she had once occupied, her eyes fell upon the seemingly useless and meaningless container. Now she perceived it unlike she had in the past, scrutinizing every detail of its surface, regarding it in a different light and from a different perspective. Suddenly she recognized its royal significance. She gently carried it from the yellow house to her own home where she carefully cleaned it and placed it at a prominent position, once again entitling the soap dish to resume its noble post and to once again hold court . Now, in the time of fragranced, foaming, liquid soap selections, the soap dish holds a plain, white bar of Kirk’s Castile and is regularly but delicately cleaned in an effort to maintain its royal stature.
The little girl, now grown, understands that the old pink plastic soap dish doesn’t look like much to the visitor or to the passerby.  And to most, it probably isn’t much. But to the little girl, it’s another sweet reminder of her stately past and a  true confirmation of her royal heritage.
 
 
 

Dear Mother (in purple crayon)

IMG_2982I almost tossed it away – it looked so insignificant, written with a purple crayon, personalized with my favorite drawings: a tree on the front and a swing set on the back. But evidently it was not insignificant to her, as she had written on the back, “Had been away over the weekend when Kathy made this,” then tucked it away in the cedar chest, along with Valentines, newspaper clippings, and report cards.

I’m wondering where she had gone that weekend, as I don’t remember my mother ever being away from home!

She often baked macaroni and cheese – using those big chunks of colby and large elbow macaroni. Homemade bread.  Sunbeam Rolls. Beef Roasts with potatoes. Warm custard when I was sick.

She laundered my clothes.

She tucked me in at night with hugs.

She held me and sang soft sweet songs like “Go Tell Aunt Tabby”and “Bye Baby Bunting.”

I knew her unconditional love. I never questioned it. I was enveloped in comfort and security.

It’s no wonder I missed her, wherever she had gone that weekend.

And it’s no wonder I miss her now.

I wish it was just for the weekend, but now it’s been eight long years. I miss the macaroni and cheese, her soft hugs, the sound of her voice, and a thousand other things.

IMG_2979Since that note to my mother so long ago, I’ve changed the spelling of my first name, and now I always use a blue, medium point pen instead of a crayon. I never draw trees on my notes or letters any longer, and I prefer writing on lined paper. But I might just write another purple crayon message on plain white paper, fold it, and on the front, write,  “To Mother.” The message will be simple. Only a few words will change:

Dear Mama,

I will be glad to see you again. I am lonesome for you.

From,

Kathi

Then I’ll tuck it in the same cedar chest and hope that miraculously she’ll receive it up in heaven.

IMG_2980

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I won’t be receiving a Tony Award this year.

The date was set.

The courtroom was reserved.

The orchestration had already been assigned, and guess what? I hadn’t been chosen for the job.

I had wanted to do it; I had wanted to be able to arrange everything. To set the “stage” for the sentencing.  Just the right people there. Exactly the right things to be said. I had it all planned. I thought. But the orchestrator position belonged to someone else – Almighty God.

So I sat back and trusted God–something I’ve been learning to do for quite some time. To trust Him to orchestrate the events.

He had begun the orchestration quite some time ago, before the creation of the world (1). He created her inmost being, her special talents, her tender soul. Then He knit her beautifully together–her delicate face, her porcelain complexion, her thin fingers– in my womb (2).

And while she was in my womb, I loved her. I planned how I would care for her, protect her, guide her, keep her. He had the same plans for her and more! Plans to prosper her and protect her, plans to give her hope and a future (3).

Time passed. I failed. She failed. We all failed Him (4).

I kept trying to orchestrate the events in her life. I applied, repeatedly, but over and over, I was never hired for the position.

I began to trust Him more. I learned to depend upon one thing — His Word. I trusted Him in it.

I prayed that Word with her, to her, for her.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give her the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that she would know him better. I prayed that the eyes of her heart would be enlightened in order that she might know the hope to which he has called her, the riches of his glorious inheritance, and his incomparably great power for us who believe . . . (5). 

And I prayed the same for myself!

It seemed chaotic at first, like total discord, dissonance, cacophany! But then it happened!  The Great Orchestrator–the one who had written the composition, had arranged all the parts, and had adapted that beautiful composition to our broken lives–that Great Orchestrator, in His great mercy, brought all the parts of the production together in perfect harmony.

She was redeemed. She became a new creation!

And so each time I think the production is in shambles and needs orchestrated, I remind myself to quit applying for the Orchestrator position. There’s someone more qualified, and He does such a perfect job.

No I won’t be receiving a Tony Award this year.

If you’d like to read my story about facing our daughter’s addiction and her subsequent arrest, you can order When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers by clicking here. 

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End Notes:

1) Eph. 1:4

2) Psalm 139: 13

3) Jer. 29:11

4) Rom. 3:23

5) Eph. 1:17,18

Who is Touching You?

Today, I was reading about Jesus. It’s the story of Jesus at a dinner. All four gospel writers record it. Perhaps you’ve heard it – or read it.

A woman comes in to the house where the dinner is held, obviously uninvited, and she opens a very expensive bottle of perfume and anoints Jesus with it. Most likely she is chastised. The Pharisees even chastise Jesus  for allowing this to happen. The “righteous” guests have various reasons to criticize the action. They are self-righteous and think they know best – know more than Jesus. Jesus uses the situation to teach them about the forgiveness of sins. Paraphrased, it’s something like this: He who has been forgiven much loves Him much. He who has been forgiven little loves little. Then He tells the woman her sins are forgiven, her faith has saved her, and she is to go in peace.

It’s a marvelous story about forgiveness. About repentance. About redemption. You’re probably familiar with it. Perhaps like me, you’ve read it or heard it many times throughout your life. But today, as I read it – distraught by the sin openly flaunted around us, by the self-glorification and haughtiness displayed in this country and this world in which we live – one line stood out to me more than the others. One line I never really contemplated before. It is only found in Luke’s account (7:39). The sanctimonious, hypocritical man who had invited Jesus said it:  

 If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.

He knew. Oh yes, Jesus knew.

It made me question: Who is touching me? And I ask you, Who is touching you?

Every day, we are approached, surrounded by, or we simply encounter a sinner – at work, at the grocery store, even on social media – one whose sins are not yet forgiven, one who is not yet saved, one who does not yet have the peace our Jesus offers. That person is touching you. And you know.

We must tell them about Jesus, the one who forgives sins, saves souls, and offers peace.  We must tell them about the Jesus we have touched. The Jesus who saved us. The time is short.

We know. Oh yes, we know.

So I must be aware of who is touching me. And I ask you, Who is touching you?

Further Reading: Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8

It’s a “toss up”

Most people think 2020 has been the worst year ever. It’s a “toss up” between 2020 and 2012 for me. I write about much of 2012 in my first book, When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers, but not all.  I’d like you to read it. Why? Because you’ll relate. I know you’ve been through similar trials, and I know you’ll find encouragement through each chapter of Hope, Comfort, Faith, Promise  .  .  . 

I’m hoping you’ll order a copy for yourself – and for a friend. Also order my Bible Study, Shh! Listen to His Whispers, in which you’ll learn how to hear Jesus speak to you through His Word, the Bible. This study has changed lives, and it’ll change yours – along with mine – to draw us closer to the Lord Jesus.

Click here to order both.

Blessings,

Kathi

 

Papa, can I lie in your bed?

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart:

I put her to bed, as usual. Well, really, with a bit more tenderness, a bit more time–reading, laying, singing, snuggling. But she is still quite unsettled when I leave her bedside, and shortly after, I hear her behind me in the living room.

Quietly.

“Nana, can I lie in your bed?”

“Sure, honey.”

I follow her down the hall. She steps up onto the little white stepping stool and up up up on to the big, soft mattress. And then I see the tears.

“I miss my mommy.”

I wipe her tears.

I lie beside her, cherishing her soft hair rubbing my cheek, breathing in its sweet, innocent scent.

Later, after she is sound asleep, Papa carries Kaylee back to her own bed.

I awaken in the night. My heart aches. I miss her mommy too. And I know a bit of the pain my precious daughter is going through. She shared it with me months ago, shortly after the arrest. Now I know that tonight, she lies on her cot, in her cell,  cold and lonely. My throat makes a foreign noise. I try to hold back the sob, knowing that when it starts, it doesn’t stop for a long time. I pray for her in a whisper – a whisper I know my Papa hears.

Months ago, after the arrest, on the 9th day, we brought her home–from that cell, from that cot–for one night before recovery began. She wanted her own bed– her old bed. The comfort of home.

Now I want the comfort of my Papa’s bed. I want that comfort for my daughter, and for her daughter, Kaylee. I want that comfort for all of us and for all others who are hurting.

I find it. I find it in the Word that is near me!

He gently tends me like a shepherd tends his flock. He gathers me in his arms and carries me close to his heart.

I might be unsettled for awhile, but I know that as I rest in his arms, close to His heart, I’ll find that comfort.

Further Reading: Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 91:1; Matthew 11:28; Romans 10:8

As you read the above post, you might connect. Some of you have or are presently raising your grandchildren. Some of you have or have had a son or daughter incarcerated. Some of you agonize, watching your own little ones unsettled and distressed, often unable to sleep. Take a verse or two and personalize it for yourself. Speak it over and over and over .  . . His Word is powerful. And it’s near you.

If you’d like to read my story about facing our daughter’s addiction and her subsequent arrest, you can order When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers by clicking here. 

Click here to “subscribe” to my blogs while you’re on this site.

And please follow me on my Facebook Writer’s Page: 

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I Remember Mama

Thursday

Yesterday was a tough day.

Last night was agonizing.
I can’t imagine facing a day of my life without her . . .
or a day without sobbing.
This evening is sad – seeing her, my Mama – lifeless and still upon pink satin lining the silver box . I don’t want to see her like this.
I close my eyes and remember her in the kitchen, making her yellow rolls; I remember her tucking me into bed at night; and I remember her dancing down “Main Street” on our first trip to Disney World!
Then I open my eyes and look around the large room of this funeral home, a place I don’t want to be, facing what I don’t want to face,  where earlier, alone, I couldn’t stop crying.
Now the room has taken on a different countenance. Instead of the parlor of death, it has become a playroom, filled with my young grandchildren. Their voices, full of animation, and their healthy little bodies, full of life, make me realize that Mama lives on in me, in my children, and in my grandchildren. As I reflect upon it, I realize that life is truly amazing. My friend, Connie, told me that today. “Life is amazing,” she said, “and we are a part of it.”
And I am a part of it because of my precious Mama. And now I will pass on the tradition of baking the yellow rolls and I will tuck my little ones into bed, and I will dance down Main Street.”
Tomorrow I must say goodbye – I know it’s just her body – that her soul is in heaven and that she will receive a new, vibrant, healthy body, but it’s her old body and her touch and her voice that I will miss. It’s the smell of Ponds Cold Cream and of yellow rolls baking in her oven.
 

The Poppies of the Field

Passersby stopped their cars. Some actually drove in the big circle driveway, walked up the steps to the porch, and knocked on the kitchen door.

“May we look at your flower garden?” they asked.

Daddy’s and Mama’s garden was massive, stretching  between the mown lawn and the corn field, its woven artistry of greens and reds and yellows visible from every south window of the old yellow house. It abounded with fruits and vegetables – strawberries in June, green beans in July, sweet corn in August, and pumpkins in September. But at a distinct time of the hot Michigan summer, the garden was amass with papery-petalled blooms: beautiful red poppies.

Daddy’s and Mama’s lives paralleled that garden. Like their garden, their lives were brimming with ever-bearing vibrancy – of honor and service to God!

Those seasons were  times of sunshine and rain. Of planting and reaping. Although well-remembered, they were summer of times long passed. 

Today, nothing remains of the beautiful flower garden or of the vivid red poppies. For a few years, a little stem, here and there, popped up, but now, withered stubble covers the ground where the poppies once bloomed. And like the garden, nothing remains here on earth of the vibrant lives of Daddy and Mama.

“All men [and women] are like grass, and all their glory is like the [poppies] of the field; the grass withers and the [poppies] fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6,8)

Yes, His word stands forever. It is powerful. It is mighty. It is beautiful. It does not die. It withstands every season, every storm, every fire, and every trial. It is permeated with vibrancy – the vibrancy of life.

So again today, I will open the Word and let it fill me with its unending message.  I desire the Word to reflect in my life such vividness that passersby stop and stare, glimpsing God’s glory in all of its beauty. 

They asked Daddy and Mama, “May we look at your flower garden?”

I hope they ask of me, “Please tell me about your Jesus I so vividly see.”

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The Fishing Pole

When I was a little girl, Rev. Bob Lindner held summer vacation Bible School at our little country church. The week before the event, he drove the dusty roads with a megaphone speaker atop his car, announcing the upcoming Bible school, inviting the children as they played in their yards, and creating excitement amongst the community! Bible School began on Monday. Each day, more children attended. Our contest encouraged us to invite others and to memorize Bible verses. The top prizes were a plaque and a fishing pole!

By the time the Friday night program took place, all the children knew who had the most points – who would win the plaque. Her name was Linda Crum, and she was a “whiz” with Bible verses. She had a “gift of gab” and could recite those verses better than anyone I’d ever heard! We also knew who came in second place–me! Although I didn’t come close to Linda Crum’s colossal number of points, I was a strong second. I’d worked throughout the week, inviting many children and learning many Bible verses, and I looked forward to the second choice of the prizes – the fishing pole. I knew Linda well enough to know that she had no interest in the fishing pole. She was sure to pick the plaque. And she did! The Friday evening program ended. Linda Crum had been announced as the winner; she had her plaque in hand, but nothing had been said about a second place. The fishing pole was still in place at the front of the church. Of course, I was heartbroken. I shared my disappointment with my mother who explained to me that Rev. Lindner had never announced there would be a second place. He had simply offered two choices for the top place winner. As we turned to leave the church, Rev. Lindner called me up front. He offered me the fishing pole as the second place prize. I was elated!

Evidently someone had  let Rev. Lindner know that I had been working all week for the fishing pole, and he was compassionate enough to care about a little girl’s desires. Looking back on that summer Bible School, I find his compassion to be similar to the compassion the Lord has shown me: a compassion that offers me the “desires of my heart.”

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (NIV)

 

Restoration from the Word

Are you distressed? I am. Most recently, I fight anxiety day and night. Truly the only thing that really helps me is speaking God’s word – praying God‘s word. Speaking God’s word puts things into perspective. Praying His word covers it all – becomes the perfect prayer – because it is His word! It is powerful. And it speaks to my anxious heart.
 
So I give you this sunset as a reminder of His mighty power, His faithfulness, and His sustenance.
 
I invite you to speak these word and to pray them. This short passage is Psalm 51:1-12
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
 
I especially find comfort in the last  two lines (verse). For it is that joy I desire and that willing spirit I so need.
 
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