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Sunday grace

As the fog clears from my brain early this morning, I remember her. It’s her birthday.

I plug in the coffee pot and turn the numbers on my perpetual calendar to November 4. And I think of that day 18 years ago when she entered this world.

I missed being at the hospital, thinking we had plenty of time to get there. Her three-and-a-half-year old sister was brought to us in the night while mommy, daddy, and the second set of grandparents hurried to labor and delivery.

I carried a pager in those days, and that was the thing that alerted me to the news. I listened to the message of “we have a baby girl,” with a mixture of joy at her arrival and disappointment at missing this important moment.

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I suppose I made up for that one time not being there by being here in the house next door to hers. For ten years she lived close enough for me to hear her playing in their yard, to see her wave and shout, “Hi Grammy.”

I found two pictures recently of the lane in front of our house, and I wondered why I had taken them with no apparent reason. Then I spied three tiny figures walking toward our house. With a magnifying glass I could see them, my three grandchildren, ages three, four and seven on their way to Grammy and Papaw’s for who knows what kind of adventures. Hot cocoa, dress up, games, books – these were possibilities. She was the one out front, skipping along while her older sister held the youngest by the hand. Sweet remembrance.

They always brought the sunshine when the door opened to them, whether they came by one or by three.

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We two are miles apart now. I miss getting to celebrate with this special young woman today. Our connection is the Birthday Box I priority mailed to arrive in time. It contains items I hope will please her, and a sealed zip bag of my special hot cocoa mix, because that is a memory we hold and my Happy Birthday wish across the miles.

She’s a busy girl now, with school, choir, friends and family activities.  She’s beautiful and graceful, funny and creative, loving and her own unique self. I’m happy that she is happy, flourishing, and becoming.

But I miss her. Especially today. On her birthday.

So I pray a blessing to the Father who knows no distance. Whose hand reaches mine and touches hers. The One who holds her life in His strong hand and knows the way He plans for her to go.

I trust and believe that He hears my prayers for her. His heart is tender towards mine and the longing I feel. He sees the tears that gather in my eyes even as I write.

My Father’s heart is tender towards her too, His love far greater than mine can ever be. He has a future for her, and He will guide her to it.

“I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. 
Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have Breath.”
Psalm 116:1-2, NLT

Sunday grace.

Celeste, tulsa oct 2018 (2)

 

 

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September ending 2018

September is gone, and I wonder where it went. Autumn is upon us. The leaves of trees are barely turning, and I anticipate a month of color.

What can I say about the weather in September? It was unusual. Hot, rain and flash flood warnings, then a break with cool breezes requiring that flannel shirt I’ve been wanting to wear.

We bought a gently used car at the beginning of the month, then took it back within the time limit. I’ve returned purchases many times during my life, but never a car. We experienced a gamut of emotions during the process, but in the end we felt the car was not for us. Sometimes we wander until we find our way.

I began a Bible study right after Labor Day with a wonderful group of women. Beth Moore’s Believing God is not new, but it is deep and rich. I love meeting regularly for Bible study. It is how many long-lasting friendships developed. Sitting together at the table, sharing what God is saying to us, and opening our hearts to one another is special and unique. I treasure these weekly sessions.

I did my semi-annual garage clean-out in September. I have to lighten the space to prepare to bring tender plants in for the winter. And I had a can of tomatoes explode on one of the shelves.

It’s the shelf next to the stairs leading to the house where I store extra food stuff and supplies. I call it my Y2K shelf because it came to be in 1999 when the world thought we would implode because we were moving toward a new century. The news channels warned us to prepare for disaster, if not mayhem. So I stocked up on food. I chuckle about it now, almost 19 years later. January 1, 2000 came in like a lamb. Sometimes the thing we fear does not come upon us.

The week before a planned trip to visit our dear ones was busy with preparation and making up piano lessons. I felt like I was meeting myself coming and going and had to refer to my lists often.  Traveling is complicated for us. We don’t do it often enough to streamline our techniques. Maybe that needs to change.

We took a new route this time, the many miles of highway to get from here to there and back again. It was somewhat stressful, since we had not been this way before. As always we had our AAA Triptik, which we referred to often. But this time we had GPS! Sweet William and I are still learning about our smart phones, but I’ve gotten acquainted with Gypsy (my name for GPS). She’s a wonder. While the AAA map gives us the full scope of the journey, Gypsy gave us step-by-step instructions. I like seeing the big picture, but I’m learning to rely on those simple instructions of “in the next 500 feet, turn right.”

Our last week of September was spent with my five favorite people and their furry friends. Maisie was in dog heaven. She played with the dogs until her tongue hung out. And she chased the cat. I was worried that she would catch it, but cats have a way of displaying their power. Claws and toenails echoed on the hardwood flooring until the dogs and cat ran out of steam and found a place to nap.

Maisie seems a little depressed now that we’ve come home to a quieter house. Maybe she needs her own friend here at the Wright House.

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I did a lot of listening and interacting with our dear ones, sitting long at meal times, lingering over coffee, hearing hearts and sharing my own. I did little writing, reading or facebooking, even taking minimal pictures, because precious faces were right in front of me and I wanted to partake of every moment with them.

I lost my watch the second day of the visit. I looked all week for it, in bags and drawers, under furniture and amidst paraphernalia. It was not to be found, and I tried not to be disappointed since it was a favorite with memories attached. But I reasoned that this trip did not need to be timed. I was on no schedule except to be present with each one of my family. I hope they felt it from me, my full attention to them and their thoughts and ideas.

We experienced their town and their new-to-them house, their quiet neighborhood where Maisie and I walked and the variety of geese and ducks at the lake nearby. We declared our last day there to be Grandparents Day, and I spent time doing something special with each of my three grands. The memories linger as tears well in my eyes. I already miss them and know it will be awhile before I look them in the face again.

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I say it often, that  I don’t understand God’s ways. Why the miles, the physical distance between us and them. But my Father knows our past, present and future. I am ever-learning to trust Him with it all.

Arriving back home brings relief. The Lord kept us safe on our trip. I almost lost Maisie twice, but she is here with us. Trials come with the best of experiences, and we had those, but in the scope of it all, we had a wonderful time.

As we were unloading the car, our good neighbor pulled into the drive with a load of  pumpkins and gourds. He kept handing me more, excitement whelling up with the bounty. I will enjoy placing them around the house and on porches for the living fall decor.

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Unpacking suitcases and washing clothes is always the order of business. As I dug into a small pocket of one bag, I found my watch. I smiled and assumed it’s time to get back on schedule.

“Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.” It has become my goal, the way I want to live. The light and dark of a day, the joy and sorrow that befalls each of us, all are threads of the weaving that become a tapestry of beauty.  I want to be present for it all.

Sometimes I think I want to see the entirety of the map of my life, like a AAA Triptik. More often I’m only given a simple instruction at the exact time I need it.

“This is the way; walk in it.”

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All God’s colors

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for listening to me to share my thoughts.}

Few experiences are as pleasant as reading to a child. It was a favorite activity when the grandchildren were young. One of them climbed into my lap, I opened the book, and memories were made.

They each one had their favorites. Cinderella and Good Night Moon were among them.

I especially like board books for little people. They can touch and handle and no one need worry that pages will tear or a book will be ruined by small hands.

All the Colors That I See, by Pamela Kennedy, is a delightful board book in a just-right small size for little fingers. It offers a bright and attractive beginning reading experience. As the title implies it is multihued. The left side pages are a single color with the color word written in the middle of the page. On the opposite side are cute illustrations, by Holli Conger, and a verse about the color with an action suggested for the child to pick out, point to, circle or count the particular shade.

“Blue sky, blue sea,
so much fun!
Count all the bluest blues
under the sun.”

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The opportunities to learn words are on every page, making it interactive and fun.  A multi-striped chameleon appears throughout the book, and God’s creativity is honored as the book ends with:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
–Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

It’s just a pretty little book with lots of possibilities. I like it and would gladly read it to my four-year-old next door neighbor. In fact, I just might.

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NOTE:   I received a copy of All the Colors That I See  provided by B&H Publishing Group, for an honest review. The book was free. The words are my very own.

 

 

 

 

May ending 2018

May is green and shades of emerald were especially beautiful this month. On many days it seemed spring just skipped away like a rabbit, leaving place for summer heat. The air conditioner has run. While I love the fresh breezes blowing in open windows, by noon many days, the sashes were closed and shades pulled to keep the house cool.

The grass grows tall along with weeds among the flowers. I’ve decided to dub this place, “Where the Wild Things Grow” since there’s a lot of that going on.

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My garden work had to be done early in the morning, three hours being my limit. I came in soaked with perspiration and red-faced, longing for a cool shower. I accomplished quite a bit working just those few hours at a time, and the front yard looks like someone actually lives here now.

There are still areas that need my attention, and I will be busy in the coming month. That’s what summer is about for me. I shall take it in stride, move at my pace, and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Deer sightings in the little woods have been frequent this year and it is truly delightful. The pièce de résistance was early in the morning this week when Maisie alerted us to activity on the edge of the yard. There stood a doe and a spotted fawn, easing quietly into the dark protection of the woods. It was a gift, simply a gift.

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May was recital month, always a celebration. This year one of my students was graduating high school and she played five difficult pieces for her senior recital. She’d been my student since she was seven years old. That hasn’t happened for me often as a piano teacher. To have spent that many years next to her at the piano is weighty as well as a privilege I don’t take lightly.

I put her file away today, and I am still emotional about it.

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Our oldest granddaughter celebrated a mile-stone birthday in May. She is grown up in so many ways, beautiful like her mother, taking on adult responsibilities. Yet in my mind, I still see that little girl who sat at the stool across from me in the kitchen and drank hot cocoa early mornings. She talked up a storm. We shared so many special experiences and a bond that is strong in spite of the miles that separate us. I wonder if she knows how dear she is to me?

Time with people has been varied. I have been a listening ear, a helping hand, one who weeps with those who weep, and part of the applauding audience who cheered young talent on stage. Being part of people’s lives means we give something of ourselves, and loving one another comes in a variety of opportunities.

This last day of May, Sweet William and I purchased android smart phones. For. The. Very. First. Time. I know! I’ve been holding out, not wanting a phone that would become an appendage. I suppose I feared addiction to the thing. I don’t want to be held captive to a cell phone.

But there comes a point when you know the time is right. And today was the day.  We bought simple and efficient because we live a simple lifestyle. The learning curve will be interesting as we teach our brains new things and get current with the rest of the world.

The sales people were kind and patient with us. (They were young enough to be our grandchildren.) They asked how long we had been married. Perhaps there was “an old married couple” persona about us or the fact that we were enjoying the experience together and laughed a lot.

I’ve been living in Philippians for the past month at least. I finished a study on my own but can’t seem to get away from Paul’s letter. His joy and rejoicing are everywhere in this short book. I long for the wisdom he seems to have learned.

I read something this month that is sticking with me. The author decided to stop saying, “I have to [do whatever]” and instead began saying “I get to [do whatever].” To me that is profound, and I’m trying to change my mindset.

One night when I was having trouble falling asleep, I lay in bed thanking God for all the appliances I have because I get to do laundry and I get to clean house and I get to fix meals and I get to work in the garden. Because I have clothes and a home and food and a yard. I am so blessed, so very blessed.

Such a simple change of phrase makes my life look beautiful and full of good things instead seeing my responsibilities as burdens that weigh me down. And I feel joyful and want to rejoice. Paul was definitely on to something.

There are so many things for me to learn and experience. I want to be a forever student of life no matter my age. I believe God has lots He wants to teach me yet.

Because I am confident of this that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

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Finding rabbits

A friend texted me after being away for a week. “Are you free Wednesday or Thursday.” I replied, “I can be.” Trying to be true to the promise I made to myself, I am living free as a breeze in June, going where the wind of the Spirit blows me.

My June calendar remains strangely empty, and I wonder what surprises the days hold for me.

So my friend and I went on an adventure, wandering trails, resting awhile on a bench, eating our lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, and we talked. I climbed a circular staircase inside a silo, huffing and puffing a little too much, but still making it to the top where the view was worth the climb.

Another day this week my neighbor came for a visit in the late morning. He’s three years old.

While his mother and I drank coffee and ate chocolate cookies, my little neighbor played with the old Matchbox cars he loves, the ones that have seen two generations of boys in this house. We went to the room that has the small table and chairs left from days when the grandchildren were small. I brought out the basket of tea party things, and he placed dolls in the chairs. Most of the play food was placed in front of the boy doll, his obvious favorite.

Later he and I went outside and wandered the garden in the back, looking for the rabbits. These rabbits are stone and plaster, weathered by the years, looking a little crumbly but intriguing to one who sees life through eyes of wonder and everything in it is something to be discovered. He picked a few flowers, filled a small bird bath with water, and gave the plants a drink.

Holding that small hand in mine as we walked down steps to the sidewalk, I remembered other years, other children. When my grands were small they came to our house often. There were a few years when the gardens went begging. Weeds grew with abandon as I gave my time to these precious little ones.

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I’ve never regretted that. Flowers and weeds still come and go each season, each year. But those sweet children have gotten tall and are doing grown-up things, leaving behind the dolls and tea parties.

As my little neighbor and I stopped for a moment, I reached down to pull up grass shoots from the flower beds saying to no one in particular, “I could spend all day every day pulling weeds.”

Yes, I could do that. Or I could take a small hand in mine and go look for rabbits.

 

 

Sweet 16

Today is my granddaughter’s 16th birthday. I was blessed beyond measure to celebrate with her last weekend.

Sweet William and I traveled the long road to where our precious ones live, the one and only son and his family. The drive was worth the hours on the road to see smiling faces and be received with such warm welcomes.

I’ve missed some birthdays since they moved from the house next door. Thankfully, I did not miss this important milestone in my precious Grand Girl’s life.

She is the middle child. At times she is the quiet, introspective one. At other times she is the comedian, actress, goof-ball who makes us laugh.

the-3-grandsShe was born without me being at the hospital. Her older sister was brought to our house early one morning in November when time came for her parents to rush to the hospital. I supposed we had plenty of time to shower and dress since her sister took her time coming into the world.

I was wrong. Before many hours had passed, I listened to the message on my phone, “You have another granddaughter.” Elation and disappointment mingled, but I was thankful for her birth. We hurriedly made our way to the hospital where mother, dad, and new baby girl were contentedly waiting for us.

It was a day to remember.

Memories surface today as I think of my Grand Girl, us miles apart and in different states but joined at our hearts.061-2

She was the queen of dress-up. She loved the costumes and cast-offs kept in a box in the back room. She emerged as a character of some sort and took on the persona and accents with ease. One of my favorite personalities was Dr. Bendova, dressed in a white shirt, silly glasses and top hat. She made us laugh a lot.

Being the second child, she was often the companion and follower of her big sister. Once when she was allowed  to spend “alone time” with us, all by herself, she climbed up on the stool next to the kitchen counter where I spend a lot of time, and commenced to talk up a storm. I was surprised at all the words coming from this child who was usually so quiet. It was as if she finally had a captive audience to hear what she had to say.

She loved to cook with me, sitting on that same kitchen stool, us sharing tasks of making meals. Her consistent game began with, “Let’s pretend we’re on a cooking show.”

100_1062-2A few days ago we made pumpkin pie together in her kitchen. It was as special as it always was.

She was a girl of many faces, most of them silly. For years we could not seem to get a serious picture of her. With everyone posed for a snapshot, she invariably make a goofy face just at the moment of the shutter’s opening. While it was frustrating at the time, it has given us myriad photos of this girl’s special way of bringing comic relief to us all.

This past weekend, we celebrated that special girl.

She has grown tall and beautiful, graceful and distinctly herself, studious and artistic, bright and cheerful. She is thrifty with her money and has an entrepreneurial spirit.

She brings gladness to this Grammy’s heart. I love spending time with her.

As Sweet William and I drove home after our three-day weekend celebration, I thought of the trip, the memories we had made, the joy of being with our precious ones, the fun and laughter, the shared table of fellowship where hearts are content just to be together.

Time slowed for me those few days. I forgot what day of the week it was, living in the moment with each sweet soul.

Good-byes are never easy, no matter how often we practice them. But good-byes are as much a part of life as the welcome homes are. We must receive them both if we are to be loved and to love in return.

As we headed east to our old Kentucky home, the sunset glowed brilliantly. A song came to mind:

I think of my Grand Girl on her special day. My eyes mist and there’s a lump in my throat as I remember the child and watch her blossom into a young woman.

Her life is a gift to all of us who know and love her. Her gifts and talents are from the Father above who planned for her life. My prayers seem unceasing for her, that she will know the way the Father leads her, that she will follow Him with all her heart, that she will understand how great the Father’s love is for her.

I pray that her heart is open to receive all He has in store for her. It’s her birthday today. I’m so thankful she was born.

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Little girls and dollhouses

The dollhouse came to me as a rescue, kind of like Maisie but not exactly.

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[from Pinterest. Different house but a close idea-picture]

 

Parents periodically go through the mass of toys and clothes that accumulate in a house full of kiddos. Children outgrow things or there just needs to be space to walk on the floor. Thus the large plastic dollhouse had been marked to go.

My daughter-in-love asked if I would like to have it at my house for the grand girls to play with when they came to spend time with us. I said, “yes,” of course, because what Grammy does not want to have cool toys for her precious ones to enjoy.

The big house stayed in the downstairs extra bedroom, the one that used to be the one and only son’s room until he went to college; then years later I transformed it into the Grands Room. It was the main play place. There was a closet with boxes of dress-up things and toy dishes, a child-size table and chairs perfect for a tea party. The chest of drawers, an heirloom of my dad’s making, held changes of clothes, PJs, and underwear just in case they got to spend the night on the spur of the moment. And there was a bed waiting for me to tuck in sleepy heads.

It was a room they could call their own. The dollhouse found a new home there.

The girls and their cousins played with the house, furniture, and small-size family for hours. Sometimes I had visiting little ones who enjoyed the house. It was a fixture in the room.

I carried the house upstairs to a different room after the family moved from the house next door. I needed a change in the Grands Room, not a reminder of their absence.

For years, the house lived upstairs, its contents boxed away in a storage area. The box came out occasionally for play when the grands came here or when other children visited.

This year, I wondered if it was time for the house to find a new home. My grand girls are growing into young women. I didn’t think they would sit in front of the house and play like they used to.

So I asked the two girls, via Facebook, if it was OK for me to give the house away.

Their comments were sweet and filled with memories of the house, but they graciously agreed to let another child have it to enjoy.

I knew who the little girl might be,  the tiniest and youngest member of our family, so I texted her mother. She said, “yes.”

This past Sunday, this mom, her husband and children were in our neighborhood, visiting our common relatives and celebrating their daughter’s second birthday. I decided this was the day to deliver the house.

I carried it and the box downstairs and out to the garage. I walked the box down the lane to the neighbors’ house. Many family members were out in the yard enjoying the beautiful evening weather. Maisie was an attraction to the littlest girl as she reached her hand and said, “Me woof-woof” to Maisie.

I went back to my garage and carried the big house down the lane. When the littlest girl saw the house she began to smile and bounce up and down with joy. I grinned at her excitement, my heart warming to her enthusiasm. She began to play with it immediately, right there in the driveway. Her 15-year old cousin, the one who had played with my grand girls, began to help her pull furniture and tiny people from the box and place them in the house.

The experience was melancholy for me. It begins to close one era, the childhood of my grandchildren. They are growing up, each one of them gradually turning into young adults.

I walked back to my house, my eyes a little misty, remembering their childhood and how much of it I got spend with them, how precious those days together were. It is a gift I don’t take lightly.

As I talk to those young women who are now my grand girls and my growing-up grand boy, they sound mature in many ways. They are looking toward the future, and I wonder what God has in store for them.

I pray for His hand on their lives, that He will direct their choices, that He will show them His path.

Life changes and life changes us. We have to accept it, allow it to help us develop and blossom. We are always becoming, even as we age.  If we dig our heals in and refuse to see change as an opportunity, we will stagnate.

I anticipate a different kind of relationship with my growing-up grandchildren, one where we share ideas and experiences and we begin to relate as adult to adult. They will always be my sweet Grands no matter how old they get.

The dollhouse has left the building. It’s OK. The memories are still here.

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