AWKWARD MOMENT

Tonight I was on FaceBook at the same time as one of my closest friends and we ended up chatting for a good hour or so. Before we said “goodnight,” I asked her what I should blog about and she said “old friends.”

And that made me think of this.

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You know those awkward moments of life – those moments when something is said and the words sort of float around space waiting for someone to grasp hold of them, put them back in order and reclaim the unawkwardness?

We all have those moments. We all have many of them.

One of mine happened way back when Ken and I were getting ready to move from Michigan to Wisconsin. That was a difficult move simply because we didn’t want to move from the tiny town with the people who had become (and still are) our extended family. But Ken had been called to a church in Wisconsin and we prayed about it and talked about it and felt it was what the Lord wanted us to do.

But that didn’t make it any easier and for the four weeks after Ken resigned we said a lot of good-byes and shed a lot of tears. The way we felt was not a secret.

About a week before we moved, the church ladies took me out to lunch. As we were sitting around the restaurant table, one of them handed me an envelope with a card inside.  They all watched expectantly as I opened it up and read the sweet message – then I noticed the check from the Ladies Guild.

But instead of money on the amount line, someone had written”one depression.” I furtively glanced around – everyone was still looking at me expectantly.

Awkward. Why were they giving me a check that said one depression, was I not depressed enough?

Silently I waited for someone to explain, but no one did, no one said a word. People chattered around us, enjoying their lunches and we sat – me, panicking desperately trying to think of something to say and my friends waiting for me to say SOMETHING.

Finally, I said “thank you,” and we went back to our lunch.

A couple days later, one of the ladies said to me, “When are you choosing your dish?”

Suddenly I got it!  They were offering me my choice of a piece of depression glass from the church’s historical collection.

Wow! I still remember that moment, sitting there with those ladies.

So, yes, I’m writing about old friends – and even older glass.

And fortunately, I still have both.

Aren’t you glad that  God understands all our moments – even the awkward ones?

WHITE HOUSE OF THE CONFEDERACY

Backtracking for a day – The Museum of the Confederacy is located in Richmond, Virginia and includes the White House of the Confederacy – the house where Jefferson and Varina Davis lived from August 1861 until the end of the war. At the time of the war, the mansion was owned by the city of Richmond who rented it out to the Davis’.  By the time they moved in, Jefferson was suffering from malaria, facial neuralgia, cataracts, unhealed Mexican War wounds and insomnia.

Unlike the other White House, Jefferson’s office was also in the mansion – a lively house with Margaret (6yo), Jefferson David Jr. (4yo) and Joseph (2yo). Two more children where born while they lived there.  But sadly, Joseph, the 4yo died, falling off the 15 foot high balcony.

The Davis’ left the house when Richmond was evacuated in April 2, 1865. Lincoln, who was nearby, came over and visited the empty residence, but did not go upstairs into their private quarters, thinking it would be disrespectful. Others joined him and they actually conducted some meetings. During the next few years (during Reconstruction), the White House of the Confederacy was the HQ for the military.

We visited The White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia on our last family trip before our kids were married.

PRESIDENT#17 – ANDREW JOHNSON

JUST SOME FACTS …

1. The tour guide at Johnson’s house was excellent!  She was used to taking school tours through, so she knew how to explain things well.

2. Unlike many presidential homes, EVERYTHING at the Johnson home is original – down to the pillowcases.  The Johnsons lived there both before and after he was president. Their granddaughter lived in the house until 1956. After moving out, she served as a tourguide until 1976. She died in 1992.

3. Up until Johnson became president, the Easter Egg hunt was at the Capitol. He moved it to the White House so Eliza (who was in bad health) could see it.

4. Son Charles fell off a horse because he was drunk.

5. Daughter Mary was went home from Washington to get the house ready for the family when the presidency was over.

6. President Johnson loved children and some say they were the only people who could make him laugh.

7. Son Andrew was 18 years younger than the others and caught TB from his mother.

8. When Eliza first saw Andrew, she said to her friends, “There goes my beau.”

9. Andrew was 5’4″.  Eliza was 4’11”

10. Martha, the oldest daughter, was White House hostess because of her mother’s illness. Her husband was senator from Tennessee.

11. Eliza had an ornate box, a gift from France – which was filled with 40 lbs. of chocolate.

12. Son Charles died of a laudanum overdose.

13. The Johnsons had a good marriage. One person said, “seemed as two souls and minds merged as one.”

14. Eliza was often sick with tuberculosis – which is why she had a spittoon by her chair in the picture below.

PRESIDENT #17 – ANDREW JOHNSON

Johnson’s Tailor Shop developed into the center of community activity, So Andrew paid a friend 50 cents a day to read the newspapers to those gathered around talking. This, of course, morphed into discussions of current events and politics. Andrew became someone for the working class to admire and at 21 he was elected to the Board of Alderman, then Greenville mayor, state senate and the House of Representatives. While Andrew was away in Washington, Eliza took charge of the tailor shop.

Andrew Johnson continued to progress in politics and was Lincoln’s running mate – and therefore became instant President when Lincoln was shot.

Probably the most common thing people know about Johnson is that he was impeached – but not because of any moral wrong.

To explain it simply – after the war, many in Congress wanted to treat the south as conquered territory, while Johnson wanted to move on as a unified country. That’s what the impeachment deal was all about. The impeachment vote allowed Johnson to stay in office with a one vote margin.  Because of Johnson’s refusal to listen to the radicals in Congress, our country moved on. If the other side had been allowed control, our country would probably be very different than it is. Many historical scholars shutter to think what would’ve happened if the North took control of the South as victors over the conquered.

The impeachment cause was explained well at the Visitor’s Center and all visitors are allowed to vote.

From the visitor’s center, you walk to the house a couple blocks away.

This is NOT Andrew Johnson sitting on his porch.

PRESIDENT #17 – ANDREW JOHNSON

Like Lincoln, Andrew Johnson did not have an auspicious beginning.

He was born December 29, 1808 in Raleigh, North Carolina. His dad was a porter at the local hotel and his mother a housekeeper.  The family was poor and poorer yet when his father died when Andrew was only three. Not knowing what else to do, his mother worked it out so he could be an apprentice at a tailor shop – Andrew was still a child.

That was Andrew’s life until he became a teen and decided to run away – but was smart enough to take his tailor tools with him. Of course, the “master” was angry and even angrier that the tools were gone, so he put an ad in the paper offering a $10.00 reward for Andrew Johnson.

As Andrew moved from place to place, he earned his keep by his tailoring. But then he heard that his mother was facing tough times, so he went back home. The tailor was out of business, but in a fit of revenge, refused to free Andrew from his apprenticeship.  Andrew packed his mom, her second husband and his brother into a cart and took off across the Smokey Mountains to Greeneville, Tennessee.

Andrew was now 18. He worked for another tailor until he saved enough money to own his own shop.

(That tailor shop is housed inside of the Andrew Johnson Visitor’s Center in Greeneville.)

Something else happened in Greeneville – Andrew met Elizabeth McCardle, a teacher and daughter of a shoemaker.

Andrew had not had even one day of formal education. Although he had taught himself to read at the tailor shop – it was Elizabeth who patiently taught him how to write and to do math.

They were married by Mordecai Lincoln, a cousin of Abraham.

WHOA!

I have a friend who went through something difficult this week – not life or death difficult, not even wrecked-the-car, lose-the-house-difficult, but keeps-you-up-at-night-thinking difficult.

So, we were talking and I was saying that the first couple months of 2010 haven’t been easy.  Sometimes I’ve had overwhelming moments as I stumbled through a long list of life events requiring action. To name a few: a medical situation that wasn’t serious health wise, but did require a doctor’s visit and a couple hundred dollars in bills, a dog medical problem that we have yet to solve, a car medical problem that will cost $1000 or more, a growling sump pump, a leaky sink valve … and then all those even smaller inconveniences that you need to crowd into the few hours you have off work each week like emission tests and taxes and the trip to the vet …

OK, your list is similar to mine, so you know …

One  morning this week, as I was getting ready for work, I started thinking about all the things – but instead of thinking of them in a bunch, I thought of them individually.  And you know what? Individually, they weren’t all that mind-boggling. Individually, I could handle them. Only when I thought of them in bunches did I get overwhelmed. I am also, always aware, that there are people around me every day who are facing MUCH MORE difficult things than these.

That night (after I talked to my friend), I was bringing the kids home and telling them about something as I drove. The 10yo was right with me, listening, and the 7yo and 6yo were sort of with me, but they (from the viewpoint of their window seats) were also interested in the thunderstorm that was lighting up the sky around them.

I would say something and one of the younger kids would see a bolt of lightning and yell “Whoa!”  I would continue and the other one would say, Whoa!”

Finally, the 10yo sighed and said, “Sure are a lot of random whoas in this car.”

But of courrse, it came out Random Woes.

And I started thinking that Random Woes kind of describes our life here on earth.

Yes, things happen: dogs and valves and taxes – and when we get those “fixed,” three other Random Woes will pop up.

That’s just life.  Just the way it is.

But God promises: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Yes, stuff is falling apart all around us, but every day is a new day in our relationship with Christ. Every day, He gives us the strength, wisdom and courage … the grace to face the Random Woes that pop up randomly and woefully.

Because after all – the woes are just random, but God’s love, comfort, peace, care, concern …. are there 24/7.  Nothing random about God’s grace.

Yes, the Random Woes will continue – this wouldn’t be life here on earth, if they didn’t.

But the 24/7 grace will also continue.

Sounds like a plan to me!