Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Diane

I Need Help! | from Diane

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It’s November 1994, well over a year before Diane knows she has ALS. As a polio survivor, she demonstrates every day that she can do things others think she cannot. Her list of accomplishments is long. Yet nothing is so difficult as the challenge she now faces. Here’s how she talks about it in this children’s sermon. Read the rest of this entry »

Help Following the Plans & Specifications | from Diane

Jesus_and_Childfen
In 1993 Diane flew to Savannah to witness my meeting with our parents. She told me she was having some strange symptoms, and thought it might be post-polio syndrome. Finally, in 1996 she was diagnosed with ALS. In this children’s sermon I can’t help noticing her emphasis on our need for help.

1 May 1994
What do you think these big papers might be?

…Plans! Right! For what?

…the new part of our church building. That’s right! But it isn’t all the plans. That was way too big and heavy! So I just brought the part that’s called the MEP’s.

MEP stands for the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing plans.

  • The Mechanical plans show where all the air conditioning units are and where the ducts will be. Ducts are like big tubes that the air goes down.
  • Then here are the Electrical plans. They show where every light switch is, every outlet, and every light fixture.
  • And here are the Plumbing plans. They show where all the pipes will be to carry the water.

After the new building is finished you won’t see all these things. But somebody has to make the plans for all of them and draw the plans up very carefully. They even asked me to help with some of this! They asked what kind of dispensers we want in the restroom. I was glad to tell them, because I had an opinion!

So all those fine details you might not think about at first are written in the specifications or drawn on the plan.

Right now some companies are looking at the plan very carefully. They’re deciding how much it would cost us for their company to do all these things. That’s why the details in the specifications and the drawings are important. They have to put in writing how much everything would cost if they build this new wing for us. Then we get to pick which company will do this for us.

Now I have another book here in my lap. What is it?

…A Bible! Right!

Did you know it’s also full of specifications? It’s all right here. All the details about how God wants us to build our lives. And there’s more! God sent Jesus to live on earth, to be like a picture of how God wants us to be. It’s all written down in this book, the Bible.

But there’s one big, important difference from the other kind of specifications. What if a company starts building for us, and something goes wrong, or they don’t do it the way the specifications say?

Someone will say No! That’s not what the specifications say to do. You’ve got to change it!

But you know what? When God gave us specifications, God knew we couldn’t do it by ourselves. You see, God doesn’t just tell us how to do it. God says I also want to help you do it!

We don’t do that when we build a building. We say this is the way it’s supposed to be, and you’ve got  to figure out how to do it! All by yourselves!

But that’s not the way God is. God says this is the way I want you to build your life, and I want to help you do it. So as you get to know God by coming to Sunday School, reading the Bible, and talking to God in prayer, you get to know how God can help you build your life.

I’m so glad God does it that way. Aren’t you? Let’s pray and ask God to help us follow the specifications God has given us for our lives.

Thank you, God, for detailed building plans for our new building, and for people who know how to make all the plans so the builders know just what needs to be done. Thank you much more for the book of specifications you gave us, the Bible. And thank you for sending Jesus to be a picture of how you want us to live, and for wanting to help us build our lives that way. I pray that we’ll do everything we can to get to know you better, and know how you can help us build our lives just the way you want.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 August 2015
Picture from pvumc.org

Growing and Changing | from Diane

bad hair day

Here’s a children’s sermon from Diane for all us adults who may not like what we see in the mirror. Or the news we just got from the doctor about what’s coming down the road. Read on… Read the rest of this entry »

Detailed Plans for My Life | from Diane

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It’s July 1991. Diane’s sermon for the children is a foretaste of what’s coming down the road. It’s difficult to diagnose ALS. Small physical losses may be due to other things. Yet each loss invites her to reconsider the detailed plans for her life. Read the rest of this entry »

A Book We Never Outgrow | from Diane

Libary Welcome Poster

Just for you: Diane’s children’s sermon from 2 June 1991. The topic fits all stages of life–those we expect and those that take us by surprise, if not shock. In any scenario, there’s something we can all count on.

See this funny looking thing?  Read the rest of this entry »

The Gift of Time | from Diane

A Gift for You

This children’s sermon isn’t just for children. It’s for all of us from Diane, my Sister #3. She gave this children’s sermon in August 1990. In fall 1996, just six years later, Diane was diagnosed with ALS. She lived with ALS for ten years and died in 2006.

Without knowing it yet, Diane describes one of the biggest challenges of her life–the number of days she has left on this earth, brought into stark focus by ALS, a terminal disease.   Read the rest of this entry »

For Children Only, from Diane

1958 Victory Drive, Diane, Judy and neighbor3

Neighbor, Diane and Sister #4, Summer 1958

Many of you know that Diane, my Sister #3, lived with ALS for ten years before her death in 2006. I’ve already completed a series of Dear Diane letters as part of this blog. I did it because I was starving for sisterly conversation. The kind not allowed in our house with four daughters and no brothers.

I’ve missed that interaction with Diane, and have wondered how to fill the void. I believe her voice is important. She has a strong and somewhat different angle on Telling the Truth.

Near the end of her life, Diane gave me access to most of her writing. I haven’t begun to uncover all the gems—and may never be able to do that.

However, along with her writing, she gave me a set of cassette tapes. You know. The old-fashioned kind.

The tapes were recorded at her church every Sunday. On several Sundays, when the pastor was away, Diane was the minister for the day. That meant she welcomed people, gave the pastoral prayer, and, most fun for her, gave the children’s sermon. At her church they called it ‘Down Front Time.’

The church is large and well-attended. Their sanctuary has a semi-circular seating area. The large, curving platform holds the choir, organ and piano, and seating for ministers and the pastor, with plenty of room to spare. Steps curve from one end of the platform to the other.

When children are invited to Down Front Time, they come and sit with the pastor or minister on the platform steps. Whoever leads Down Front Time always has a bag. The children know there’s a mysterious object in the bag–the key to the topic for the day. There’s also a bit of friendly banter, sometimes for the benefit of adult children in the congregation.

I transcribed most of Diane’s Down Front Times a few years ago, but haven’t been sure how I might feature them. I’ve decided to make use of them via excerpts that get to the heart of each children’s sermon. Possibly one a week as I did with her Word for the Ones I Love.

Diane loved children and they loved her. Her quirky sense of humor and down-to-earth approach to life pulled them right in, along with all the adults listening in.

From this distance, what catches my attention most is that Diane is talking to herself, not just to the children. She’s doing her own spiritual formation work in front of them—with the simplest or strangest of objects. Yet the content isn’t simple or strange. It’s the content of life—all the things that matter most, reframed and restated for young children.

I want to be a young child listening to her along with you. So look for this soon. I’m already working on the first of her Down Front Times.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 July 2015
Photo credit: JERenich, Summer 1958, Savannah, GA

Dear Diane | Old Photos

1967 Jun Legs at the Beach Diane and Elouise

Dear Diane,

Summer 1968. How do you like your lovely tanned legs? And what about those toes? I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten this picture! Read the rest of this entry »

Easter Lilies and Justice | Dear Diane

Easter Lilies

Dear Diane,
Funny how things come together: Easter lilies, our first apartment, and Mr. Griswold.

Easter Sunday always reminds me of you. Read the rest of this entry »

Some things I don’t miss, some I do| Dear Diane

Dear Diane,
I’m going first today! As far as I know, I don’t have any more of your written pieces for family and friends. I know the last three were slightly out of order. But not by much. I’m grateful you gave me permission to make them all public.

This piece from you seems a fitting place to draw a line. Your life with ALS didn’t end until February 2006. Read the rest of this entry »

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