Monday, July 29, 2013

From Painful Fear to Joyful Trust

Staying overnight with either set of grandparents was fun. There always seemed to be an adventure, even if was small or simple. I went through a time, however, when I can remember being afraid to spend the night. It was just after my Paw Paw Hood passed away. As a child, I did not fully understand death and loss. I can still remember the fear that during the night death would come to steal my other grandparents as well.
My parents were puzzled at my behavior. I would beg to go spend the night, yet the closer it came to bedtime, the fear would reappear. I would inevitably end up crying and going home. I felt so disappointed in myself, but I could not bear to tell them what was bothering me. I just knew that saying the words out loud would surely cause something awful to happen. To make matters worse, I found myself withdrawing from my grandparents. I even became afraid of leaving Mom and Dad to go to school. This created a constant state of chaos and threatened my future as well. Knowing how much it hurt to lose my grandpa Hood, I became protective of my emotions. Even though I now understand as an adult that pain is a part of life, as a child I did not ever want to hurt like that again.
Thankfully over time my parents coaxed me to express my worries and fears. To this day I can remember the weight being lifted off my heart and mind as the conversation unfolded. Even as a small child, carrying that heavy burden was stealing a joyful part of my childhood. Instead of enjoying precious times of the present, I was living under oppression and fear of the future. I was running from the very thing I was so desperately afraid of losing. The confession to my parents restored a relationship with my grandparents unlimited by fearful reservations. Over time I was able to return to spending the night with them, and eventually I was able to go to school without that awful feeling of anxiety.
Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? Yet how many of us as adults live in the exact same prison by exchanging the abundant life for  the less desirable prison of denial, fear, and sin. You see, Satan attempts to keep us ineffective by telling us we aren't worthy of forgiveness. However, God says, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." Romans 8:1. Pride tells us we have the "right" to "enjoy" all things and we would lose out if we totally surrender to Christ. God says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10. Human nature tell us we should run from God whenever we have messed up. God begs us to run to Him. "But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9.  "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Luke 15:4-7.
There is such freedom in Christ. God did not design us to face this world's troubles alone. We are inherently created to depend upon His grace and mercy to see us through each challenge. May God work in your heart today, helping you to unload the burden of fear, failure, and/or uncertainty in your life. May He give you the grace to let go of the familiar pain in order to receive unknown joy.
"Thank You, Lord, for loving me and for showing Your forgiveness towards me. You know how I struggle with the very thing I write about today. Lord, I confess to You my many shortcomings, and I ask for You to perform a work in my heart to bring about the changes I am incapable of making on my own - real, lasting changes from the deepest part of my being. Make me real, Lord. Please remove any semblance of hypocrisy or false humility far from me, and help me to love others with an honesty that only You can provide. In the name of Your Precious Son, Jesus, Amen."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Story to Tell by Cindy Hester

"With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding." Job 12:12

Before I begin today's writing I must send out a plea to all of my dear readers - please take plenty of pictures, print them out, and label them for future generations. Also, preserve family stories in writing before they are forgotten. I am fascinated by the history revealed in records left behind by my  grandparents. Maw Maw Hood must have loved pictures since she had numerous boxes in her possession, whereas Maw Maw Moore preferred to record her memories in writing. I can still close my eyes and see her sitting at her dining table, steam rising from her coffee cup with one notebook dedicated to writing gardening tips from Dewey Compton, and another to record the day's events. Perhaps this explains my obsession with photographs and my love for writing.

There are many potential tales emerging from the pictures left behind. I am attempting to take photos  related in subject and savor the stories they reveal...I have a different plan for the written diaries. My story today revolves around my grandmother, Mrs. Winnie Wright Hood. Imagine a time in the mid to late 1920's. This was the post-war era of economic growth, especially in the south, leading up to the Great Depression. Automobiles were becoming more prevalent, and the oil boom had brought about economic diversity in an area previously dominated by agriculture and the timber industry. Spindletop oilfield produced an unprecedented volume of oil, which marked the beginning of the petroleum industry we know today. Prohibition, women's suffrage, immigration, and racial discrimination were but a few of the political realities of the day.

My Grandmother, Winnie E. Wright Hood
Imagine now a young woman in her late teens or early 20's leaving her small farming community during such a time, and entering the world of door to door sales for Davis Baking Powder. I wish I had spent more time asking her questions about this time in her life. I remember a few stories she told, but as a young child, a preoccupied teenager, then a busy young mother, I had trouble seeing her any other way than as my grandmother. I am sad that I did not understand the hidden adventurous person she must have been. I wish I knew more of the events surrounding her decision to go, how long she was gone, the challenges she faced, and the memories she made.

My Grandmother and fellow employees at the Davis Baking Powder building.

 My grandmother, Winnie Wright (Hood), on the far left-hand side with work friends from Davis Baking Powder (note the car)

My grandmother, Winnie Wright (Hood) - second from the right - visiting Spindletop near Beaumont, Texas during her days at Davis Baking Powder.

I wish I knew the story of what drew my grandmother and grandfather together, her being 24 and him 35 when they wed. I wish I had paid more attention when she spoke of the troubles she had being able to carry a child full term before finally being able to give birth to my Dad, almost 10 years into their marriage. I wish I had seen her more as a person than simply as my grandmother.

My Maw Maw (Winnie) and Paw Paw (Arch) Hood
My Maw Maw Hood and my Dad, Frank Hood

To my children, nieces and nephews, read these stories and treasure them. Learn of your heritage and pass it on. Remember that each person you meet has a story to tell, and the longer the life, the richer the story. To my readers, live your story. Each new day is a fresh tale waiting to be told. Your adventure does not end until the last breath is drawn. Quite possibly the most powerful chapter of my Dad's life was the last. The final paragraph impacted me beyond anything yet experienced, and for that I am grateful. Each of us is a memory in the making. Dear Lord, please help me to be a good one.

"Every believer must be a kind of psalmist, either literally or privately, that living itself has been given, at least in part, as a way of knowing God intimately. Every event takes on a significance in that context, for there is no waste in experience."
Phyllis A. Tickle


A Poem for Bear By Maw Maw Cindy My dear little Bear who sleeps soundly and tight So peaceful and trusting, your cares free...