A bride’s tale


About four months ago, I stayed with my in-laws over the Thanksgiving holiday. And for the first time, we used my husband’s grandmother’s room. Her name is Alice. We used her bedroom because Alice needed more medical care than normal, and had been staying at a rehabilitation facility since October. And so, while sleeping in Alice’s bed and using Alice’s bathroom, I was struck by what surrounded me. It was all of her stuff. Loads of it. Bottles and tubes and compacts and sprays. And in November, my realization was that no matter what age a woman is, she wants to feel pretty. Whether she’s 9 or 90, a woman cares about how she looks.


I snapped lots of photos thinking I would use them one day in a blog. And so, I find today is that day for Alice passed on last night. And despite my having a list of a thousand things to do, I pause for just a moment to remember this woman. See, she was 89 years old and I’ve known her close to 18 of those years. At the very least, she deserves a moment of my time. And so, I consider Alice. Honestly, one of the first things that comes to mind is painted nails. Her fingernails were always presentable. And always colored. And not a demure, faded pink, either. No, Alice went for bold colors. When I saw her this past Monday, she had purple nails adorned with flowers. The nails gave testimony to her personality, for in earlier days, she was a force.

And when I say earlier days, I mean up to about a month ago. Oh, she may have been in a nursing facility, but that doesn’t mean that she was a sinking ship. No, not Alice. She clung to life. And it was just a month ago that she was made Queen at the Valentine’s banquet where she was staying. I saw her picture displayed in the foyer when we went to collect her things… bright dress, crown and flowers. She looked completely different than the woman I saw on Monday. And what tales I heard. She danced at that banquet. A lot. And I heard that she was an inspiration to everyone at that facility, for she breathed fresh life into the place. The nurse who came to visit Alice yesterday shared the tales of Alice. And before leaving, she deposited no less than 20 kisses on Alice’s cheek. So many had sent by her, “Kiss Alice for me…”

Yes, Alice loved colorful nails. She loved life, and dancing, and laughing. And really, she just loved being the center of attention. For she had no fear of crowds and enjoyed interacting with people. Anyone would do. She just wanted to be a part of what was happening. Like many moons ago when she came to visit us. We were at church one Sunday, and when the question was posed, “Do we have any visitors today,” Alice stood right up to boldly proclaim her name. As I said, no fear. Not an ounce of shyness resided in those bones.


Alice, who had bold nails and a zest for life, also had another love. Baubles and gems. Necklaces and rings of every color, shape and size. If Alice had an errand, she went out in style, her clothes coordinating with her jewelry. Always. Well, at least till the end. For this woman named Alice was nearing 90, her birthday just two months away. And ever since her big night when she was not just the queen, but the life of the party, pieces of Alice have been stripped away. And yesterday morning, well, she just didn’t look like herself. For her hair was undone and her nails bare. Legs that once moved with rhythm laid still. Rather than a watch, her arm was adorned with a hospital bracelet. And rather than chains of gold, tubes fell along her chest. A body that once displayed brilliant pinks, was draped instead with a drab hospital gown. Yes, 89 years had taken their toll, and her body finally gave way as the glow of life within her faded. What remained of Alice was a shell. Her sparkle was gone.

You know, in recent days, I’ve heard the church being referred to as the bride of Christ. It stuck out because honestly, that’s a hard concept for me to comprehend. But today, in light of Alice’s passing, I find it beautiful to behold. Because Alice, being part of the church, is also His bride. And I wonder if that’s why she held so tight to this life at the end. I wonder if she just didn’t feel ready. Because she was stripped of all that she so loved in this world. Where were her scents and polishes and baubles? The glitzy necklaces and sparkly rings were no where to be found. And truly, what bride wants to meet her Groom undone? What bride wants to walk down the aisle minus all the things that make her feel lovely? What woman doesn’t want to feel pretty on her special day?

And so, at this I smile. Because today I know that what Alice adored so in this life is now a part of her ever after. And I see that she didn’t need a strand of pearls or a shade on her lips, for indeed, she is adorned by heaven itself today. And graced with the colors of eternity, what woman could be more beautiful? No, she had no need of pearls, for the gates of heaven become her pearls. And what need of golden chains had she, for the very street she travels is gold. No, Alice didn’t need bold polish on her nails as she exited this life, for at this moment, she is surrounded by such brilliant color. Alice, who loved bright nails and dancing and laughter and colorful gems, is now encompassed by the very things that brought her such joy in life. For she’s a bride. And she’s dancing and laughing in glorious color. Yes, Alice colored herself here. But there, color is so much more than she could ever have imagined.

The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,  the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:19-21

Yes, Alice has passed on to the other side. I feel sure of it. For it was Tuesday late afternoon when she roused a bit. She twitched and jerked for a moment, then looked to the right. Her eyes opened wide and she smiled. And twice she said it… “Peter.” We all wondered who Peter was. And then we smiled. We thought, it’s true! Peter is at the pearly gates. Perhaps it was he that walked her down the aisle.

know your yesterday


A year ago, my motives were pure and my mission was clear. I simply wanted to proclaim God and prove that He is in our very midst, even in the most mundane of circumstances. Thus, if you open your eyes a little bit wider and if you pause just a little bit longer, you can really see… ordinary becomes extraordinary. But when we bustle through life, as most of us do, the supernatural can be missed. We must be intentional about it. Pause. Look. Reflect. And then see.

…on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Psalm 4:4b

This morning I visited my “about” page. See, the blog’s one year anniversary came about last week and I wanted to remember. I wanted to reflect, if you will, as to what prompted me to blog in the first place. And in truth, I’ve been wondering if I should continue. But you know… what I find there brings a smile to my face. Because I find that a quickly typed thought of yesterday has become so precious to me today. In fact, a mere idea of a year ago has become my passion for today: know your yesterday…

February 25, 2013: And here I sit, mind brimming, thoughts churning, and my most pressing thought? What first? Where to begin? I could start with today, but for me, yesterday is so important.

I see that yesterday was important to me then, but even more so today. Perhaps it’s because of my present circumstances. See, I’ve been looking back. And looking back. And my goodness, when I think I’m done, I find I’m looking back once again! I want to go forward, I really do. For I’m anxious to move forward from where I’ve been paused. Because I think this has gone on long enough. I mean, how much looking, reflecting and seeing can one person do? And so, I ask God repeatedly, “Why am I still here? Why am I still looking back?” For every time I think I’m ready to move forward and make a difference in His kingdom, I find I cannot take a step. I’m stalled. And honestly, I’m beginning to feel guilty about all this introspection. As a matter of fact, I feel 100% selfish wearing these inward goggles for so long. And so, writing has been hindered. Because embarrassment has settled on my soul. And I begin to wonder about other people… if someone follows these blogs, will they wonder the same about me? Will people think I’m narcissistic and that this blog would be more aptly named “the truth about me.” And so, confidence shaken, writing stills. I’ve been on pause as I’ve sat here with nothing else to do but look, reflect, and see. And so, a month ago, I finally did.

Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. James 1:23-24

This was a convicting verse to me. Because I have paused and looked and oh, how I have reflected as I’ve pored through 18 journals (yes, that’s right… 18 of them in four years time). And most importantly, I see what’s undone. For despite hearing from God over and over and over again – His words to me, written out by my own hand – I have failed to act on what He’s shown me. Throughout the pages of every journal, it’s there. It refuses to go away. And thus, I get a good look at the real me. Not the one everyone else sees, but the one that God sees. And she ain’t pretty. Because I’ve seen the truth about God and me too many times now… I know I hold tight to the very thing that’s a blemish to my insides. Pride is so deeply ingrained, that for the life of me I cannot seem to shake it. How many more times can He tell me to put it behind me. And so, through the words of a man named James, I really see my pride. And I see me. And for perhaps the first time, I see me as God sees me. A woman who has heard God’s word, and heard it, and heard it… and yet, she fails to act on it. A hearer of His word only, not a doer.

You know, James 1:23-24 tells of a man looking at his reflection in a mirror, but then, he forgets what kind of man he was. The wording in the HCSB version is “he is like a man looking at his own face,” and that word “own” means natural. It means the face of his birth. Essentially, it means where he came from. In a sense, his yesterday. And the man fails to do what he knows he should do. He doesn’t act on what God shows him about himself. In reading this passage of Scripture, I see a picture of me. And I get a glimpse of what this blog has turned out to be. For it’s my mirror. Through it, I’ve been reflecting on my past. At first, I went back a few years. But as the year progressed, I looked back further. For He wanted me to see my natural man. He wanted me to remember the face of my birth. It was as if He were bidding me, “Know your yesterday.”


It was one month ago when I read this passage of James and the words spoke deeply. But it was the picture beside the verses that nearly took my breath away. For a picture of a bronze mirror assured me God was speaking directly to me through a man named James. See, I had just finished reading about the Old Testament temple… about how God’s presence resided inside that dwelling. However, before a priest dared approach Him, there were steps to be taken, one being the bronze laver. It was where the priest washed before stepping behind the veil into His presence. At the laver, he cleansed himself. And you know the most astounding thing… Exodus 38:8 tells that the bronze laver was made from bronze mirrors. So the bronze laver, where the man of God cleansed himself, must have been reflective. Perhaps in looking through the waters, he caught a glimpse of his natural face peering up. Perhaps in running the waters through his hand, he remembered… the face of his birth and from where God brought him. In fact, he may have reflected on his yesterday and who he once was, and perhaps was still. And perhaps it was then, when he got a really good look at himself, that he was met with humility. Because he saw

Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness,
You who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.” Isaiah 51:1

One year to clarity. One year of pausing. One year of writing and examining my past. One year of reflecting on the old (and the not so new) me. And one year to see. The blog, which I hoped would be an encouragement to everyone else, becomes encouragement to me. For it’s my mirror. And through it, I see the face of my birth reflecting back at me. Oh, it may be true I haven’t changed much in many years. But I have hope. Because the blog is still the truth about God & me, after all. It’s just that for me to see God as He really is, I first have to see me as I really am.

Ironically, the fact that my confidence has been shaken gives me hope that I’m changing. And though some would view shaky confidence in a negative light, I see it as a positive. Because for once, I’m not as sure of myself. And lack of reliance in me leads to more faith in Him. And this alone gives me hope that this time is real… that the inward goggles really worked this time around. Because I think I see something new. I believe, through the murky waters of my words, I see the beginnings of humility. Incredibly, backlit by reflective bronze, a humble countenance is peering back at me. And what astounds this prideful soul, is that the reflection looking back is me.

God’s message is clear. He says… “Pause, look, reflect, and see.” He wants me to remember my yesterday. And if it takes a year, then so be it. Because before moving forward with Him, I have to see.

“Childhood scenes rushed back at me out of the night, strangely close and urgent. Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill