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Monday grace

I wake to the alarm, walk to the kitchen to make coffee, open the window and feel some little coolness. The dark liquid begins to flow into the pot and I remember: It’s my birthday.

How can I be this old when I still feel the same age on the inside?

I looked on the world wide web to search the day of the week I was born and this poem came to mind:

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

peggy little girl

While I was a Saturday child, my experiences have encompassed each day of the week. Haven’t we all?

Birthdays make me contemplative. Deep thoughts swirl and twirl and pull up scenes from the past. I remember a few simple parties when I was young, my mother and dad being the focus of my life, an only and beloved child.  I’m reminded how becoming an adult changed birthdays, because there are responsibilities and work to be done even if it is your special day.

The first birthday after my mother died was hard. She made it significant. She remembered, even if everyone else forgot. Birthdays were never quite the same without her thoughtful touch on the day.

There was one birthday not too long ago when Sweet William was recovering from one of many surgeries in a span of three years.  I expected nothing, but he’d arranged with some of the nurses to have surprises for me when I got to the hospital. It was especially meaningful.

There have been times when friends remembered me with cards and gifts, and I was shocked that they knew and took such sweet initiative to make me feel special.

I recall the year I turned sixty, coming home after a day of work, and being surprised by my precious ones who then lived next door. They came to celebrate. The grandchildren made a cardboard birthday cake for me, and I wore it as a hat. It became the symbol I coaxed each of them to wear as they celebrated their birthdays that year. It is a tender memory today as I look at those dearly loved faces.

Sweet William and I pre-celebrated simply on Saturday, and we anticipate dinner with good friends this evening. We will feast on their fellowship as well as the good food. And we will eat cake! Or something sweet and delicious.

I expect calls from those precious ones I long for who are miles away, sweet wishes bathed in love, their voices the gift I crave more than anything.

I have penciled dates on my calendar, plans with more precious people in the coming days. I intend to savor this birthday week as much as I can.

While there are projects I need to do, I sit and think and type away and look at pictures and remember, sipping on the second pot of coffee. The projects will be there tomorrow, of this I’m sure.

The plants have been watered, breakfast cooked and cleared away, bed made. I will do chores as needed while music plays sweetly on the CD player. It is another day in my life, a day to be lived. It is a time to be treasured, a moment to worship, because I will not pass this way again.

Life is a gift, to be lived joyously, to be treasured. Our days are determined by God alone. He will decide when it is enough.

Until then, let me live, strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus.

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Happy Birthday to me

My birthday is tomorrow. I started celebrating yesterday.

My philosophy about birthdays is this: The older I get, the longer I get to celebrate. It works for me. So this year I started early.

Sweet William took me to get my birthday present, two pots of lovely yellow knock-out roses. They remind me of a primrose blossom. I have a spot picked out in the garden that will be just right for them.

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Next was the grocery where I had a birthday epiphany. Ice Cream. Let the celebration begin! I found peanut-butter-chocolate on sale and headed to the cookie isle for a generic Nutter Butter cookie. After lunch, Sweet William crushed the cookies and mixed the ice cream with them – I love that man – and we had our own version of a Blizzard.

This morning I baked biscuits, from my mother’s recipe, and topped them with jam made by a friend. I think of my mother in the days leading up to my birthday. I miss her especially when the day arrives. She taught me to cook and cook well. And for that Sweet William is very thankful.

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Today I made a Plum Cake, pulling the recipe from my stash of those tried and true. Everyone should have a birthday cake, even if she has to make it herself.

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Tomorrow, we will visit a church where a younger friend is a member. She is scheduled to sing in the service, and I love her and her voice. Then we plan to visit a young man in rehab who needs to know he is loved and that prayers are being lifted heavenward for him. No agenda. No message to give. We simply want to show we care.

I’m trying to figure out being this age. It’s taken a lot of years to get here. My experiences are showing on my face, fine lines deepening more than I like. My silver hair seems to be even lighter and a bit thinner. I have aches and pains regularly and especially after a day in the gardens.

I am changing eyeglass prescription more frequently, and the trifocals make me squint sometimes, just trying to find a place of clarity. My hearing is still good and my mind is clear, thank the Lord.

My figure is fuller than it used to be and in odd places. And that information about gravity pulling everything down? It’s a real thing.

I can’t put in the same hours of work I did a decade ago. That’s frustrating. I’m not as busy I as I used to be. I’m OK with that.

I wish I had kept a journal more consistently when I was younger. Those events I thought I would remember easily? I don’t. When I read old journals I am surprised at what I’ve forgotten.

Life is still sweet. I appreciate the simple and the small. Friendships are deep, us having been through years of trials and loss, blessing and triumphs together. New relationships are exciting now that I am more comfortable with who I am. I can be myself, and I don’t have to strive to impress.

I’ve learned to be a better listener without trying to fix the problem.

I’ve found God to be trustworthy through these years. I do not understand Him or His ways, and I’m coming to accept that more. He is beyond comprehension. I still wonder why He loves me like He does, and how His grace can be so inexhaustible.

I still treasure the Bible and believe it to be true. In an ever-changing world of science, technology,  medicine, philosophy, and the latest idea, the words of Scripture are reliable. They speak a steadfast truth in a world that constantly wants to change the meaning of truth.

I’ve never wanted to live my life over. Why would I want to go through all that again? We often wish we knew “back then” what we know now. Wouldn’t that be a lot simpler? But I think we only get the wisdom to understand as we live through this life. I’ve learned through the living.

If I had the chance, what would I say to my younger self, the one who was in her twenties, thought she knew most of the answers and didn’t have a clue?

  • Slow down and smell the roses. Pay attention to the little things.
  • Don’t worry about the dust on the furniture. It is not a life and death issue.
  • Invite people over more without cleaning the house first.
  • Play with children and welcome them into your life. They show us how to live in the moment.
  • Laugh a lot. Sing out loud. Move to the rhythm.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. It is healing to your body.
  • Put those photographs in good albums that won’t fade the memories.
  • Slow dance with your husband.
  • Listen well to your friends and family and neighbors and anyone who needs an ear.
  • Save some money and spend some money. Plan for the future because it is coming.
  • Buy quality not just what is on sale. It will last longer.
  • Memorize Scripture while the brain is young. Memorize poetry too.
  • Let go of hurts and don’t hold grudges. Forgive and get over it.
  • Don’t worry about what other people are thinking of you. They aren’t. They are thinking about themselves.
  • Take good care of your skin. It’s got to last a long time.
  • Disregard the size of your dress or jeans and what the scale reports. They’re only numbers and not the value of your life.
  • Respect yourself and respect others. Speak up for yourself when necessary.
  • Slow down when you eat and enjoy the flavors.
  • Pay no heed to your critics. Instead, hear the people who care about you.
  • Pay attention to your elders. They have been where you are.
  • Stay in church. There are people there who need you. You need them too.
  • Be patient with yourself and others. Pray for patience if you must. It does not bring more tribulation as you may have heard.
  • Don’t whine. It is not attractive.
  • Smile a lot. It brightens the face and makes it more beautiful.
  • Don’t let the rich and famous be your role models. Some of them are not doing so well themselves.
  • Love yourself, the unique gift you are to humanity. Explore your talents and enrich them however you can. Then use them to bless the world.
  • Love others well and freely without expectations. Expectations kill relationships.
  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You are one of a kind, made in the image of your Creator who makes no mistakes.
  • Be thankful. Always. In all circumstances. Everything is working for your good.

Life is a precious gift. The years mount up and I wonder how many birthdays I’ll have to celebrate. But that is not my concern. My God is in control of that, and I rest in His divine plan.

Tomorrow I will be 68 years young. I feel every bit of it. I have lived it, laughed in it, cried through it. I have been loved greatly and have learned to love in return.  I have experienced the miracle of salvation and felt the ocean of grace all around me.

I don’t know what my future will look like. I trust my Father with that. He’s been looking after me all these years, and He will continue to keep His watchful eye on me.

I do believe the best is yet to be.

peggy little girl

 

THE RECIPES

Mother’s Drop Biscuits

  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening or oil
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup of milk – use buttermilk if you have it

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put about a tablespoon of vegetable shortening or oil in a skillet or griddle. (I prefer a cast iron griddle.) Put this in the oven as it heats up. You want the oil to be a little hot so the biscuits will cook crispy on the bottom.

Measure flour into a large bowl. Pour the oil into a measuring cup, then add the milk on top of it to equal 1 cup of liquid. Stir the liquid into the flour and mix.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto the hot oil.

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until the little peaks of the drop biscuits are browned.

Serve with butter and jam. Oh my goodness, they are good!

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Plum Cake

This is a simple cake with a spicy flavor. It is very moist and looks lovely baked in a bundt pan setting on a footed cake plate.

  • 1 cup of oil – or for richness use butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 small jars of plum baby food. (I’m having trouble finding plum baby food these days, so a dark fruit substitutes well.)

Combine oil and sugar. Add eggs one at a time.

Mix flour and spices together. Add to oil/egg mixture and combine well.

Add baby food and continue to mix.

Pour into a greased and floured bundt or tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour.

ICING

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine all and pour onto warm cake, poking a few holes in it to allow the flavor to infuse the cake.

ENJOY!

 

Happy Birthday Jesus

Cupcake

The first time I heard that little voice singing “Happy Birthday Jesus” on the radio I melted into a puddle.  It was so tender, so sweet, so, well, childlike.  That’s all I can say.

And isn’t it really His birthday?  Really.

Is there a chance we have become sidetracked in our Christmas flurry and forgotten?

An article I read years ago suggested giving a gift to Jesus at Christmas.  Assuredly, it would be difficult, practically impossible, to find something for the One who has everything, the One who is complete in Himself, the self-existent  “I AM.”

How does one gift the original Giver?

Reading in Genesis 12 this morning, the words leap from the page.  “I will bless you . . . and you will be a blessing.”

And I see that this is the key.  I have been gifted, graced, showered with blessings in order that I might give grace out of my abundance.

Yesterday, I spent my day getting ready for a Christmas recital with my piano students.  It was a flurry of activity and I was weary at day’s end.  But smiles from parents and grandparents and hugs from students afterwards were reward for my efforts.  This morning, I consider how the gift of music given me has become opportunity for me now to gift others.  And it brings joy.

Because when we give, we are blessed again by the blessing we have received.  Isn’t that God’s economy?  That we can never give it away without more blessing being returned upon us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together?

There are countless ways to do it.  Each person’s uniqueness can be an expression of blessing to another. You can decide what gift to give and doing it in His name, it’s like giving to Him.  And isn’t that just an amazing way to share grace.

Christmas programs with children are something everyone should experience.  This is a precious picture of children in all their child-likeness.  Enjoy their expressions, their wiggles, their singing, their attention, their distraction.  They are being who God made them to be.  Children.  And it is just delightful!