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Today

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.  But it’s Wednesday.

I’m listening to The Carpenters a lot lately.  Their music takes me back to an earlier day.  Life looks simpler back then from my vantage point now.  But it was not simpler as I was living it out.

Life is always complicated and a roller coaster ride.

I sing out loud with the CD on the player.  Some songs make me smile, some bring a tear.  And today I’m OK with a tear.

I’m missing another birthday.

My grandchildren who live too-far-away have had birthdays without me for almost five years.  And can it be they have been gone from the house next door for that long?

Pardon me while I get melancholy and then write about it.

I post on Facebook a birthday wish, add photos and say how much I miss that boy and hope the birthday box arrives in the mail today.  It does not feel like nearly enough.

I pray for him.

I pray for someone else’s grandchild this morning.  Two people in our Sunday school class have a granddaughter who has been sick a long time.  Sweet William and I call her name in prayer so often.  And I wonder how the hearts of her grandparents are faring in this horrible storm.

I’ll be sharing lunch with a friend today.  Her grandson lives in one of the far corners of the states.  Their visits are few and far between, like mine.  She and I share our concerns and our love for our grandchildren.  We will catch up with each other and talk about those nestled deep in our hearts.  And if we cry, it will be OK.

My morning Word is in Psalm 90 as the sweet Spirit led me there.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. . . . Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. . . . May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children . . . “

I make it a prayer and add, “Show your splendor to my grandchildren.”

They are far away, but the Lord is near.

Be near us Lord Jesus.  On birthdays and on regular days.  When we are close and when we are not.  When the sun shines and when it is a rainy day.  On Mondays and Wednesdays and all the days of our lives.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us . . . “

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For all the women

Mother’s Day blogging is upon us.  I am reading them this week.  I’ve written my share.  What else is there to say?

As a mother of a grown up son, I long to hear the words, “well done.”  I want to hear that I did a good job, or at least that I didn’t leave permanent physiological damage.

We women are known for comparing ourselves with other women.  We wonder if we are keeping up, if we are good enough at this high calling, or are we failing at the most important task of our entire lives?

Looking back, I see lots of places for a do-over.  But life does not offer a rewind.

Perhaps that’s why we enjoy grandmothering so much.  We get a little bit of a chance to do things differently, realizing that some things we thought were so important just were not.

I miss my own mother on Mother’s Day.  I always will.  When she was alive, I tried to tell her how much I loved her, how I appreciated her role in my life.  I hope I did it enough so that she felt like she had done her work well.

Mothering is the most rewarding and sometimes the most heartbreaking of jobs.  We celebrate and we cry.  We hold close and then we let go.  We teach and instruct only to come to the place when we must keep our mouths shut.

It’s not easy being a good mother.

Yet is it the way God planned for children to be raised, nurtured, loved, trained, and set off on their own as young adults, just so the cycle will repeat itself.

God’s tender compassionate heart is reflected in mothers.  They don’t give up on their children.  They don’t turn away from them when they make mistakes, end up in jail, turn out badly.  They keep loving, keep praying, keep hoping for better days.

I am thankful for women who have poured their love into my life in so many ways. While some will have the title of “mother,” others will not, but their hearts still mother in ways only women can.  God made woman that way.  She is unique, a creature like no other.

William Ross Wallace said it well:

Woman, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal sod;
Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Where would we be without the love of mothers, the love of good women?  Blessed are they.

mother andbaby hands

A melancholy musing

Two almost-sisters were blessed with new grandbabies last week.  One is a cousin by marriage who has been family a long time  The other is a life-long friend who calls me her “forever friend.”

I am so happy for both of them.  There is nothing like holding a new baby in your arms, and when that baby is your very own grandchild, well you just have to experience it and you know what I mean.

I was blessed beyond measure to be at the birth of my first grandchild, a girl.  Our one and only son and his beautiful wife lived close to us then, and her parents were driving from out of state to be here when she entered the hospital.  So it was my great priviledge to be in the birthing room when that tiny little creature breathed her first and squalled like a baby.

It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,   Because birth itself is simply breathtaking.  But when the son of my heart gives life to his own child, that is a mountain’s high peak.

My melancholy comes when I wish for and long for that grandgirl to be closer to my house.  She, along with her two siblings (my other equally precious grandchildren), and her parents moved far away three years ago.

So when I get a Facebook message from that first grandgirl saying, “Dreamt that I arrived at your house after a long trip. I miss your face!!!!!”, I weep.  I just can’t help it. Because I. Miss. Her. Face. So.Very. Much!

Elyse older

I know I’m not the only one.  I have friends whose grandchildren live across country, and we often share our joys and heartaches at short bursts of togetherness and long stretches of being apart.  We understand each other.

So I rejoice with those almost-sisters who have new babies to hold and snuggle.  They will cherish these days.  And I weep with those who wish their grands were right next door, like mine were for twelve years.

I thank God for those twelve wonderful years.  I was given time to invest in relationships with three that are still precious and dear to this Grammy’s heart.  Those years were a gift, an important and valuable gift that I don’t take for granted.

In my tears, I will remember the hugs, the smiles, the cups of hot cocoa, the snuggles with a thousand Disney movies, the tucking into bed, the reading of books, the telling of stories, the prayers.  Ah, the prayers.  They never stop.  They go wherever the grandchild goes because that is my connection with her and with God.

And I trust God to hold her.

Who am I?

 

WHO AM I?

I’ve worn a few hats in my work-a-day-for-a-paycheck life, professionally speaking. Personally, I’ve been daughter, niece, cousin, wife, mother, mother-in-law, friend. But the one that tenders my heart the most is being grandmother.

Just this week, the one and only son brought his family from their Tulsa home to visit for a few days. Just a few short days. Not nearly enough days. But I will take what I can get.

As they came in the door, there was a sudden invasion of joy brought by five precious souls, and this house was full again. Full of talk and catching up. Full of games, toys and laughter. Full of kids running in and out. And hugs! Lots of hugs.

Tucking sleepy heads into beds was my privilege. Cooking meals to fill hungry tummies was not work but pleasure. Keeping the coffee pot full and hot was no chore at all.

The few days went by too swiftly.

Already they are gone. Out the door, into the SUV, and down the road before I can hardly blot the tears from my eyes.

For me the time is too short and the distance is too long.  Because those three precious grandchildren and I, we share something that cannot be explained. 

If you are a grandmother, you know what I mean.

I am very much a relational woman. I love my family and friends.  I gladly make room in my heart for one or two or many more, and I feel rich because of these precious gifts from God above.

But this grandmother thing, it’s just something not easily described in words. It is deep like the ocean.  It is like priceless ancient treasure while being fresh and new each time the children and I are together.

In honor of the three stars that shine in my sky, the sunshine that drives away my rain clouds, the faces that melt me every single time,  I will tell you who I am.

I’m the . . .

  • Bubble blowing – wagon towing
  • Game playing – “be kind” saying
  • Story telling – letter mailing
  • Walking, biking, sometimes hiking
  • Lesson teaching – WORD “preaching”
  • Favorite book reading – hungry tummy feeding
  • Sometimes singing – Front yard swinging
  • Together chatting – love patting
  • Picture taking – cookie making
  • Apron wearing – Popsicle sharing
  • Hug giving – Christ living
  • House cleaning – crock pot beaning
  • Clothes washing – dish washing
  • Kid washing – foot washing
  • Dinner fixing – pies a-mixing
  • Table setting – doggie petting
  • Swim time taking – fall leaves raking
  • Movie time snuggling – sleepy head tucking
  • Bible reading – Flower seeding
  • Journal writing – bird nest sighting
  • Papaw loving – grandkids loving 
  • Others loving, loving, loving 
  • Whisper praying – blessing saying
  • Chair rocking – Time tick-tocking

 EVER LOVING GRAMMY!

“Grandchildren are like a crown to older people.”  Proverbs 17:6 (NIRV)”

Are you a grandmother?  Do you know what I mean?  Please tell me I’m not alone.

Grand-motherhood

Fourteen years ago today, I became a grandmother.  My oldest granddaughter, Elyse, celebrates her 14th birthday today.

Becoming a grandmother has been one of God’s best blessings. He is so creative to plan that as we get older, along come these little people to bring back the kid in us.

When I was pregnant with my own child, some 30 plus years ago, there were no machines to picture the embryo in the womb.  I barely got to hear the heartbeat in the last month.  For the entire nine months, we had no idea what we were having.  Several people told me I must be having a girl by the way I carried the baby.  Someone else told me she could not imagine me with anything other than a girl.  Did she mean that I was way too prissy to raise a son to be manly? I still don’t know.

When the doctor announced, “It’s a boy,” the surprise was wonderful.  I was thrilled, delighted, overwhelmed and humbled to have been chosen by God to be mother to this wee baby boy.  I loved every minute of him. 

After a number of years and a few heartaches, we realized our son would be an only child.  I put away some of the things from my childhood, my doll furniture and dolls.  The hope of giving them to a daughter were gone.

Instead my days were filled with being mom to a boy, and not a dull one was among them.  I picked out boy clothes and made a Spider Man cape. I bought little cars and trucks and yes, even fake guns, boy toys, for him to play with. I made his room look masculine and cut his hair to look like his dad’s. I was a den mother for a batch of his Cub Scout friends. I dealt with a caged gerbil that was bound and determined to escape. I even shared his affection with any number of the fairer sex, until I finally took second fiddle to the one woman who truly captured his heart.  All the stuff boys are made of became our experiences, Sweet William and I.

Can you even imagine, then, the excitement I felt when my son and sweet daughter-in-love announced they were having a girl.  Visions of pink ribbons, frilly dresses, tea parties and baby dolls danced in my head.  I was going to have a girl-child to snuggle and cuddle, to share girl playtime and chit chat, to experience female moments that can drive a guy to distraction. A girl would understand that giggles and tears are just an emotion away.

Since that day 14 years ago, I’ve been blessed with two more grandchildren, a loves-to-dress-up girl named Celeste and our all-boy Ethan.  Let no one try to argue with me, there is a difference in boys and girls.   And I am loving every single minute of experiencing their uniquness.

Want to know the amazing thing about these grandchildren? They are equally delightful, they bring equal but different joy, and they have burst my heart wide open with love.

Being a grandparent is like getting a do-over, a rewind, a second chance. The things I would have done differently with my son, I get to do differently with my grandchildren. Things I thought so importance during my son’s boyhood, really don’t seem to matter that much now.

I think it is due to growing older and wiser, seeing life with mature eyes, and knowing we parents made a lot of mistakes and in spite of us, our children turned out OK.

I think I’ve become more fun as a grandparent, less particular, open to new experiences. I count the moments precious.

One day, I will pass on to my heavenly home. While I have this day, I want to build a house of memories for my grandchildren. I hope they remember laughter, funny stories, hugs and kisses, good-night prayers and blessings, unconditional love, complete acceptance.

I am depositing love into their hearts and I am storing up prayers. Sometime in the future when they hit a snag in the road or when something almost crushes the life out of them, I hope they will remember how much their Grammy loved them, believed in them, and talked to God about them.

Being a Grandmother is one of God’s best blessings.

A little story about someone I love

Because February is the month of love ~ 

mother2I think of those who have loved me much. Today, February 11, is the anniversary of my mother’s death 28 years ago.  I can’t help but think of her as Valentine’s Day approaches because we put her earthly shell in the ground on that day.  The only flowers that year were the ones around her casket.  It was a hard day.

But instead of feeling sad about my loss, let me tell you about this precious woman I called “Mother.”

Charline Lockard Rayhill was 27 years old when I was born.  That was considered to be late in her day when most women were in their teens or early twenties when they had their first child.

Mother was such a wise parent. I suppose she learned it from her mother, Bertha Ray Lockard, who had been a school teacher before she married and began raising three children of her own.  I am told Grandma Lockard had the wisdom of Solomon when it came to people skills.  And I’ve heard some interesting stories.  One of Grandma’s favorite quotes was “Consider the source,” when dealing with people who did and said stupid things.

It would only be natural that my mother would imitate her own mother’s parenting ways.

Mother was a strict disciplinarian while being a totally loving parent.  She had the proper balance between the two.  She let me know what was expected of me and then expected me to follow her instructions.  I can remember a few times when as a little girl I was misbehaving or talking during church.  All mother had to do was look at me with her dark brown eyes, and I knew I’d better straighten up.

 Mother’s love was so unconditional I never questioned it.  I knew from her words and her actions that she loved me even when I did something wrong or hurt her in some way.

Mother loved my dad.  She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind to him or fail to express her opinion even when it differed from his.  But she was loyal to the death and would defend dad in a heartbeat.  She showed me what it really means to be a good wife, one in whom her husband trusts.  She did him good all the days of her life.

After I married, she became “Mom” to my Sweet William.  He has told me how he loved talking to her early on Saturday mornings.  She was a good listener, and they became buddies.

When I became pregnant, mother said she was not going to act like other  grandmothers did, being silly about their grandchildren and showing off pictures all the time.  Little did she know what her baby grandson would do to her heart.  She became so enraptured by this tiny boy child that she became “one of those grandmothers” she said she would never be.

Mother loved to give gifts.  One year at Christmas she bought and wrapped many small scatter pins (what we called them in the 1960s).  My stocking was full of little Christmas packages that year.

No one enjoyed telling a funny story much better than my mother.  She used to tell “The peanut butter story” to the family again and again upon request.  Her sister, Doris, would laugh at it every time as if she were hearing it for the first time.  Mother always tried to pull off a joke on April 1st, telling some tall tail, then laughing and saying, “April fools.”

Mother opened her arms and her heart to others.  There were the ladies of her Tuesday morning Bible study who came faithfully each week.  They loved her like she was their kin.  Even the young men whom my dad taught in Bible study or counseled, more often than not gave her a big bear hug.  She was a spiritual mother to many, giving away her love and her wise words.

Ah, I wish everyone could have a mother like mine.  There would be fewer dysfunctional homes and far fewer people spending their adult lives trying to overcome their childhoods.

I loved my mother.  I knew she loved me.  That’s what every child needs.

Christmas fun – December 8

After an early morning appointment, I went to Little Flock to help set up chairs, music stands, and lights for the orchestra.  The music department and media are gearing up for the annual  Christmas Choir concert.  This year’s “Gloria” promises to be glorious.  I can’t wait to hear the drum line march in and play during “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Afterward, I picked up the three grandchildren to help me with a little Christmas decorating.  Pulling the multiple boxes from their storage area, I was amazed again at how much there is.  The children and I looked at some of the items and remembered them from years before.  I told them the story of the ceramic carolers I painted before I was married and the small village their daddy gave me to go with the carolers when he was old enough to buy a gift himself.  They carefully placed them on the piano.

Celeste found one small box and exclaimed, “The Snow Man Tea Set!  I love the Snow Man Tea Set.”  She took it immediately and set it up in their room.  Later, Celeste took a thow-away box and created a stable.  She set up a manger scene in it.    

Ethan pretended to be a puppy, dressed up like an egyptian sheik, then became Robin Hood with a mask I made him from an old Christmas card.

Elyse got on line to search for a Christmas tree for our house.  No, I don’t have a tall tree this year for all the beautiful ornaments I’ve collected through the years.  But Elyse and I are still looking for the perfect one.

All of us decorated the Jesus tree.  Only two feet tall, it holds small ornaments like a lamb wrapped in a red ribbon, a star, a heart, a tiny Bible, a cross, and other things that remind us of Jesus and tell his life’s story.

We took a break with hot Tazo Apple Red tea steeped in a pretty new green teapot given to me by one of my piano students.

I unpacked the Candy Cane mugs my mother gave me the last Christmas she was with us.  The children already know that story.  The mugs are treasures to me, and I think of her when I look at them.  It just isn’t Christmas until those mugs are hung on the little rack and sitting on the kitchen counter.

After the children left, there were boxes and greenery strewn about.  Dishes needed washing.  Stuff was in stacks here and there.  The house was rather a shambles.  I had to rush off to church for work, piano lessons, and choir practice.  No time to pick up and put things in order.

Back home, I looked at the mess that still waited for me.  I thought about the good time we had today, the memories we had made, the food and laughter we had shared.  This mess represents a little Christmas joy.   And I am so glad for it.