Monday, July 6, 2015

The Time Some Puppets Helped Me Raise My Kids - RJD

Being raised in church gives you these creepy little friends. :) 

It is RANDOM JOURNAL WEEKEND! That odd and slightly quirky bloggers challenge when you get to open up an old journal and share bits of it or just use it as a writing prompt for a new blog post. This morning I was in the mood to write about my kids because watching my 9 month old grandson has somehow stirred up all those mooshy squishy overwhelming love feelies in me. 

But I decided not to open the journals that I had created especially for my thoughts about each of them because they are grown men now and do not need to see that on a blog post in their FB feeds. SO I opened a different, more random journal, to a random page and what do you know....There was a story about Writer Son just begging to be told! 

Sorry kids, it is fate....And from what you guys put on FB, neither of you know how to be embarrassed anyway!  

I am going to include the entire journal entry because it appears that I had some really pretty great mommy skills on this particular day....It comes and goes and you got to celebrate the winning days! 

Writer Son/Ben was 9 years old.

"After a couple of days of putting up with sassy talk and a really negative attitude from Ben, I finally asked him what was going on. He mumbled "nothing." I left him alone about it.

Next day the behavior continued and it had to be confronted. I said, "I know that this mean, rude boy is not my Ben. My Ben is sweet and kind and loves Jesus. What is going on inside you?"

At first he said, "Nothing, what are you talking about?" So I just sat there in silence, asking God to help me know what to do.

I said, "Do you like yourself like this?" His eyes filled with tears and he shook his head "No."

"Why are being mean to your family? Is it to be cool?" 

Through tears he said, "I don't know how to stop, I can't help it."

I prayed for him and he prayed that God would help him be better. I reminded him that he cannot be good on his own. That I cannot be good on my own. We need God to be good in us. Any other way fails. 

Here's the great part, you guys...

The next morning when I got up to wake him, I found him dressed, washed, bed made, sitting in the living room reading a Narnia book. He was so proud of himself. I told him I was so pleased and proud that he did all of that without me nagging or pushing him. And what a blessing he was to me.

He said, "It's just like when Solomon only prayed for wisdom, and then he got fame and money and lots of stuff. You only prayed that the old Ben would come back and now I'm even better!"


SO the moral of the story is that when you are raised in church and Sunday School, you not only get to be friends with a bunch of felt people that all seem to talk with very high voices, you also acquire some amazing life lessons that help you grow up into a wonderful human being. 

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Limping Butterfly

Apparently the Red Wasps may think this is a hornets nest
and decide to build elsewhere. (It's a paper bag I put up there.)
We'll see. Ugly & I don't care.

Ok y'all, yes I said "Y'all", I went to bed last night feeling guilty for posting so many negative status updates on Facebook about Texas since our move. Of course, I have also been pretty upbeat because I love my new house and am still in love with my swimming pool. My FB updates have not been with a negative attitude, they were mostly to be funny as I navigate this new world I am finding myself in. 


But quite honestly, between confusing & aggressive freeways, Red Wasps, Fire Ants, snakes, floods  and tornado warnings, there has been a bountiful supply of things to grumble about as a transplant from California. 

So this morning I was determined to wax poetic about our magical and mystical Fireflies which I adore. We get to watch them from our back porch and I jump with happiness and excitement every time I see that sweet little flicker of light in the darkness around our trees. You almost wonder if you imagined it...and then, there it is again! 

But my poetic waxing was once again interrupted by frantic barking from Layla. This time she found a snake only 3 feet from me and my bare feet on the porch. Thankfully it was on the other side of the screen and trying to get to a large hole in the screen and onto MY area. After her last bad encounter Layla only barked at it, she knew not to get too close. Curt got rid of it for us and everyone is fine. 

Fire Ants in my pool.

No, we are not fine at all though. I am not fine. I went inside and found an email from my neighbor saying that a neighbor two doors down from me killed a 5 foot venomous Water Moccasin last week! You guys! I have battled fear all of my life...and I thought that I had won some pretty big fear battles. But here I am again. Hello God, what's the deal? Seriously. 

One problem with having a specific fear is that you cannot win. If I am afraid of driving on the chaotic 6 lane freeway or I'm afraid of stepping on a snake, I have to alter my life so those things cannot happen. If I try to prove that the bad thing could happen, the ONLY way to prove it is for it TO HAPPEN. See? If I successfully navigate the freeway system and do not cause a crash, then I am proving that the fear was silly and wrong. But if I die on the freeway I will prove that the fear was JUSTIFIED. See? Cannot win. It's a no win-no win all the way around. 

People, these are not the streets around my home, these are all Freeways!!!
I'm in the middle of what the news calls "The Mixmaster"!!

Now I know that these are all very TINY problems in the world wide view. How dare this woman complain about a snake in her yard when so much that is so horrible is happening out there in the world. But fear is fear. It freezes us up and shrinks our world. My world is shrinking due to my fear of these crazy freeways. 

I do not want to live like this. Sheesh you guys, I am writing a book about how much God loves us and how He showed me how to escape my rigid cocoon and find my wings! I am not seeing that bold butterfly today. Today the butterfly is cowering in her living room afraid of her own back porch! 

I'd planned to wax poetic about the fireflies for you. It seemed wrong to use my blog to complain, it is supposed to be a place of encouragement and an example of ....something, I don't know...something good and strong and full of faith right? 

But when I write, the truth comes out. In one way or another. I can smile at you in person and tell you all is well. But when I write...I am truthful. Even when it's ugly and confused and wondering how in the world am I going to end this post. 

I will end it with this sweet Baboo peering at you from over my shoulder. I want this little grandson of mine to know his grandma as a brave and kind woman. I want to conquer these silly fears so that I do not become an old odd recluse who is afraid to come outside her door. He is worth it. We moved here for two reasons, economy and family. This little guy will make me brave enough to get on the road...some day. 

For today, I am the limping butterfly. 


For all my friends and family that have never ventured to Dallas, Daalis, or Dallus, here is an aerial view of one of...
Posted by Rebecca Gray on Wednesday, May 21, 2014
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Friday, June 5, 2015

One Year Ago | Random Journal Day

One year ago this month my journal was generously peppered with exclamation points!!! We were living in a tiny town in California in a house we'd been in for nearly 20 years. I loved our home there. We had made it warm and cozy, if you avoided certain spots. 

Packing boxes surrounded us last June. The moving van was due to arrive on June 25th to take away all of our belongings and store it until we found a new place to live in Texas near our son and his wife. In the meantime we would be staying with them. 

So when we had scheduled the moving van we did not know how long we might be living out of suitcases at our kid's house. Our plan was that if it took longer than one month to find a home we loved, we would move into a temporary rental while house-hunting. We knew we were leaving but not sure how long we would be "homeless." 

Of course I had been house-hunting online for many months, trying to figure out what we wanted and what areas looked good. I stumbled across this house and asked our Texas realtor, our DIL's sister, to look into it. Sadly she reported back that it was in process with some solid buyers already. And then, came her email that the deal fell through and it was available again! We made an offer that was accepted and TADA! We bought a house almost 2,000 miles away, sight-unseen, other than a short walk-through video the kids did for us. !!!

The movers came on the 25th and we left California on the 26th with our suitcases and our dog and took a fun 3 day road trip through areas I had never seen. Loved it! We arrived at our son and DIL's home on June 29th, happy and excited to see where this adventure would take us. FINALLY, as you can see in the above journal entry, on July 3rd we walked through our new home for the first time. The previous owners were still there and not packed at all, so it was awkward and odd...but oh so sweet. 

I remember standing at the bedroom window and when my eyes took in the gorgeous swimming pool in the backyard, they filled with tears and my hand shot up to my mouth in wonder. 

We moved into our new home on July 19th and the movers arrived on July 20th. Perfect! 

This last photo is my journal entry after living here for 6 weeks and I can say that today after being here for almost a whole year I would still say the exact same things. We are still delighted and blessed and thankful for this lovely home and yard and neighborhood. In fact, we keep finding more reasons to know that God was part of this move in ways we had no clue about. He SO protected us from a huge mess. We never checked out the neighborhood or flood levels or much of anything. Our kids were not familiar with this town 30 minutes away from them. We explore it now and just love it more and more. In the recent record breaking storms there have been many areas damaged by flash floods, but not our corner of this city. Even though there is a creek right behind our home!

As I skim through my journal of that season, the !!! stand out to me of course, but I am once again overwhelmed at the goodness of God. I will say it again, we did not FEEL Him at all. We felt alone, empty and lost. We had no idea what to do next and we saw this move as a default maneuver at best. When you feel like you have no clear direction from above, you just wing it and hope for the best. THAT was our big "mission statement". OK here goes nothing...I recall Hubs telling someone that this was either the smartest thing we've ever done or the dumbest. Had no clue which.

I hope that this story can be an encouragement to you if you are in that lost and confused season, as we were. God is close. He is beside you, behind you and above you. He might be moving obstacles out of your way or putting some in your way as you stumble around trying to find your path. God knows you. I do not know why He stays quiet sometimes. I just don't. Drives me crazy and makes decision making a difficult task. But know that He knows. Know that He cares. Know that He loves.

+ Connecting up with Random Journal Day! Click on over HERE and read the scribbles of other journal keepers, and add your own! it's easy! 

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Don't Know What I Think Until I Read What I Write
I am participating in the Writing Contest: "How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life." Hosted by Positive Writer. The following is my contest entry...

The question posed by this writing contest is a difficult one to answer because I cannot picture my life...or myself, without the writing element included. The written word has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. As a child I was sometimes embarrassed to admit that my favorite hobby was reading. Everyone else loved sports or crafts, hiking or dancing. I loved a good book. 

Many bibliophiles grow into writers, and my love for writing grew up with me. Beginning with one diary after another, my scribbles recorded everything from what I got for my birthday to which fifth grade boy looked at me that day. In later years when I learned that I was expecting my first baby, my first purchase was a brand new journal to record the wonderful and scary adventure I was about to have. Today my overflowing shelf of  overflowing journals is the perfect resource for the nonfiction book I am working on. 

"How has writing influenced my life?" I believe that writing has helped me find my authentic self. I know that the word "authentic" has recently become heavily over used, but it is the only correct word at hand to answer this question. I will try to explain what I mean by "authentic".

I do not really know what I think until I read what I write. On my journal pages I may begin an entry with complaining and grumbling about situations or people in my life. Then I sit there and read it over...and the ugly negativity jumps out at me and I am embarrassed at myself. Seeing my whiny self-indulgent words in black and white on the page do more to reveal myself to myself than any full-size mirror could ever do. 

Very often the journal entry will then move from spoiled entitlement to thankfulness for the life I get to enjoy. There is something stark and revealing about the written word. Even if you are both the writer and the reader of those words. 

So writing has revealed my authentic self to me. Writing has influenced me to become a better person, a more grateful and giving person. Writing has helped me to be a more honest person...with myself and with those around me. Blogging has been a place to be real in front of strangers. The beauty of writing is that it has moved my readers from being strangers to being friends. 

How utterly amazing is that?  Simply tapping on a keyboard has the power to transform perfect strangers into true friends. Writing has no geographical distance barriers. My written words reach all over the world in nano-seconds. I have faithful blog readers from coast to coast of the USA and from India, Malaysia, Africa, and Brazil according to my statistics this morning alone. I even have a couple of very close friends whom I have never even met in person!

Writing reveals me to me. I will type out an opinion about some current event, and then immediately hit the backspace or delete button as I realize that the words are not mine. They were simply parroting what I have read or heard from someone else. Writing forces me to find my own voice and my own view. Writing shows me what I feel and think. I am more real when I write than I am in person. Now there's a scary and weird thought, right? I am not as nervous when I am writing as I am when I am talking. Maybe if my talking voice had a handy delete button it would be much more confident and authentic. 

When I read what I write, I know what I think. So as I read this blog post over, I can now proudly say without any embarrassment at all, that writing is not only my hobby, but it is my  passion! 
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Three Bits Of News

My kids know how to give great gifts! They came over on Mother's Day for a while so I could cuddle my grandson and they handed me a beautifully wrapped present. I opened it to find a super cute, framed photo of my son and his baby son...but that's not all! I opened the next bundle of wrapping tissue to discover this HUGE stack of printed baby photos!! 

I may have done a bit of hinting, ranting, verbal moaning, wondering out loud about how sad it is not be able to frame and hold the current method of photo sharing. With everything in digital form it felt like I would be missing out on some great pictures to     enjoy if my computer crashed or became obsolete. (I have tapes of my kids baby talk but  no way to hear them. So see? It can happen.)

Thank you kids, my heart is so happy about this pile of pics!!

In other news, this gorgeous hawk has been visiting us a couple times a day for the past few weeks. I love to watch him sit there looking for his next little rodent meal. But he gave me real surprise the other day when I saw that he had a snake in his claws as he sat there on the fence. THEN he rose up and flew over my house with the snake dangling! Yikes, I hope he did not drop it on top of my house and I am thankful he did not deposit it in our swimming pool!


And in still MORE news, I am back to work on my little book! I am once again excited and hopeful about it. I still have a long way to go but can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This WIP (work in progress) is based on many encounters and experiences I have had with God as He went overboard to convince me that He loved me. I believe now that all of these encounters were also to let me know that His love for us is supposed to be my life message and I have tried to express that in every way I can think of here on this blog. 

I got stuck somewhere along the line while working on it last year. I was trying to write about important and life-changing events between God and me over the years, but the deep spiritual awareness of The Messenger Himself was not here as I wrote. I was recording facts and stories but that's it. So I hit a wall of dissatisfaction and doubt. But in recent weeks I have found myself in this little office writing with tears streaming because the events in my true stories felt close and alive and as if they happened today. What a difference! Now I am so excited for you to read this book! It carries an important message that can impact every single reader in one way or another. Can't believe I just said that for all to see but I am going to leave it right here. :) 

Who knows how this is going to end up?

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

My Trophies

I wasn't going to add my words to the overwhelming flood of Mother's Day posts and articles floating before our eyes this week. But even as I only read the headlines and titles, I began to get that smooshy, weepy, nostalgic, and sweet mood that comes with this holiday...or for me, pretty much any holiday. Searching for a photo for this blog post only drew me deeper into the smooshiness. :) 

In recent years I have been jealous of the current new moms. They have the Internet to help them through the lonely and confusing season of child-raising. I looked at the way a new mom could post a question on social media sites and immediately get all kinds of advice and encouragement to choose from! All I had was my mom and the few child development books that were available. And I often found those two resources in direct contradiction of one another. 

But I think I am changing my mind about that jealousy now. Today's young moms might have TOO much information storming at them from way too many sources. It takes some serious study to figure out how to pull the good advice from the bad, and who has time for that? Talk about overwhelming! I would freeze up like I do when I go to a restaurant with too many pages in the menu! 

There are many things I would do differently if I were able to go back in time. But I would never choose to go back if given the opportunity. The Hubs and I raised two boys, figuring it out as we went along, like every parent does. They were and are well-loved and they always knew it. Love was always there, underneath the wonderful moments and the awful ones. 

Going back in time would change the men that my boys have become, and that would be unacceptable to me. Those two little boys in that photo up above have grown into good, caring and kind men. Men that I love to be around. They are people that I never get tired of looking at or listening to. (The smooshiness is filling up my eyes again now.) The two people that I mothered are good for this world. They are contributors to the laughter, honesty and beauty of the world they live in.

They are good and faithful friends to the people in their lives. They are generous and creative. The ones they spend their days with feel cherished and valued. My men know how to make you smile and look at the other side of a hard situation. Both are quick to laugh at themselves and not take themselves too seriously. Their passion and loyalty constantly surprise me and fill me with pride. 

These two men are my trophies. Happy Mother's Day to me! 

P.S. Writer Son just told me why he was laughing so hard in the photo above. He said that Rocker Son had just burped! brothers! 
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

His Thoughts - My Thoughts - Pretty Much Opposites

~ I have posted this here before, but I was working on it today for a project of mine and wondered if it might lift some heavy heads today...

I step out of the clothing store with shopping bags in one hand, shading my eyes against the bright sunshine with the other. I scan the busy parking lot for our car, because as usual I’ve forgotten where we parked. The longer I stand there, the more uncomfortable I am. It’s not the sun that is making me uncomfortable.
My husband is sitting in our car, out there somewhere among the hundreds of parked cars, just watching me and probably getting a pretty good chuckle out of it! How many times have I done this? I am directionally-challenged, even needing some guidance when stepping out of a store inside a mall! I always choose the wrong direction to walk. And now my husband is watching me and I am remembering how much he loves to tease me about my lack of car placement memory.
Then my eyes lock onto his and sure enough, he is grinning from ear to ear! I sigh and make my way to the car, throwing the bags in the backseat. I buckle my seatbelt and turn to his broadly smiling face, bracing myself for the teasing and ask, “What?”
With a sparkle in his eye he says, “When I saw you standing there, it took me right back to our high school days when I used to watch you come down the school hallway toward me. You are so beautiful!”
My heart does flip-flops, and I must quickly correct my thinking about his thinking!
I do this to God. I keep getting it wrong regarding His thoughts toward me.
  “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8
For some reason I tend to think that God is unhappy and displeased when He looks at me. But nothing could be further from the truth. (farther or further? Ha! Need to find out for my project.) The following is a journal entry from when my two boys were little. I was active in more ministry jobs than anyone should ever say “yes” to. I was asking God to help my family and to give me ideas for the women’s Bible study and things like that, but we were spending no quality time together. So this led to guilt and depression and of course to the belief that God was sitting out there somewhere frowning at me. I felt angry, sorry, alone and crowded all at the same time. Nothing would console me. Not more chocolate, coffee, time alone in a long hot bath, nothing. My journal reads…
“I have been down this road way too many times and God knows that, so how could I ask forgiveness? My shame is keeping me from Him because I do not deserve Him. I am such a mess. I know He will forgive me and that makes me feel even worse!
Now suddenly in the last few hours I am hearing Him whisper to me, “I love you, just come to me please.”
Just when I am thinking and feeling that all is hopeless He is calling me to Him. Why? Has He no pride? I haven’t even asked for forgiveness yet. Doesn’t He want me to beg and plead? He is offering me mercy before I even ask for it, I do not get His love for me!”
God did not make me ask for forgiveness. I did not need to grovel or pay for my crime of neglecting Him. He was not unhappy with me at all. Right in the middle of my misery and blind wandering, He was holding out His mercy to me, even before I asked for it.  God was smiling at me and loving me.
His thoughts are higher, full of more grace and patience than I can muster up for those around me. I was making the mistake of imagining that God thinks like I think. That He gets irritated as easily as I do, that He is drumming His fingers on the table waiting for me to get it right.
I do not offer mercy up as easily as He does. I want “justice” when my family or I are wronged. I want fair treatment. I want recompense and restitution. These are my ways and these are my thoughts.
I am so thankful that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts and that His ways are not my ways! God’s ways are infused with such overwhelming love that He cannot see us without love in His eyes. He refuses to keep a tally of our wrongs against Him because His vision is colored with mercy.
Dear friend, He is smiling at you today! God knows you. He knows what all you are juggling. He likes you more than you think He does. When the craziness of life begins to overwhelm you and the kids are pulling at you for attention 24/7, God is there and He understands. He is not impatient with you and your progress or lack thereof. God is not tapping his foot on a cloud wishing you would hurry up and grow up.
God loves you today. He even adores you today! God is better at love than any parent. We call Him Father, but God loves higher and deeper and truer than an earthly father is able. He has no false ideas about you. He knows you. You are His creation and made by His design. What else could He be doing but smiling at you? All you need to do is look up and smile back.
Thank you God for smiling back at me even when I am not smiling. I am worrying and fussing and stressing. But still you refuse to stress or worry. You smile at me. You open your big arms to me and invite me into them. Thank you for your relentless embrace, for your constant grace and forgiveness. Thank you for being the loving God that you are.
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Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day, One Year Ago Today | Random Journal Day

It is May Day! One year ago today my journal is full of exclamations points, both happy and sad. The pages preceding this day contain prayers for two of my friends, one had recently found out that her son had just 4 months to live, and the other was walking through another very difficult family situation.

My son and his wife had FINALLY released the news that a baby was on the way and I could openly bask in the news that I was going to be a grandma! We had already decided that we wanted to move to Texas to live near them, and this gave us the obvious deadline to make this happen!

On May 1st I was home alone making myself a sandwich for lunch when my right arm and right leg went entirely numb. Not tingly like when your limb goes to "sleep", but heavy and useless and numb. I moved to the couch because I thought I might faint, though I was not dizzy and had no headache. It lasted about 10 minutes as I sat there wondering what to do.

After it happened again one hour later I called Hubs at work and asked him to come home. He said to call the Emergency Room for advice while waiting for him to get home (45 minutes away). I called my doctor instead and they said to get to the ER as soon as possible.

A few hours in the ER revealed that I'd had a mini stroke. I was told to see my doctor for further instructions. A few days later Hubs and I sat in my doctors office as she wrote out a new prescription for high cholesterol to go along with the high blood pressure med I was already taking.

Her other recommendation made both of us laugh. She said that I needed to "take it easy and have a few months of rest." Her questioning look was answered with the news that we were hoping to move out of state in the next few months, though we had not sold our home or found a new home or had any jobs to go to.

My Internet research on mini strokes told me that a major stroke is very likely within one year from a mini stroke. Thank you Internet.

On May 6th Hubs got a call with a job offer in a city one hour from our kids in Texas. He said "Yes, when do you want me to start?"

In 6 WEEKS!!!

By June 25th we had SOLD our home of 20 years, BOUGHT a gorgeous home in Texas we had never seen, and found ourselves standing at the front window of our California home watching a huge moving van drive away with all of our possessions!

Yes, there were many exclamations points in these journal pages!!

And the Internet was wrong. I am happy and semi-healthy and very much alive today, one year since the mini stroke. So much has happened since that day. It scared us both a lot, and we do not and did not take it lightly. For the next month my hubby called me from work every single hour and boy did I get in trouble if I did not answer! Now he is back to calling on his breaks and during his lunch. I feel loved and cherished.

I am sitting here in Texas today, listening to the music of water trickling into my pool from the hot tub, accompanied by the snores from my dog beside me. My grandson is only 30 minutes away and I get to snuggle him at least once a week. I am so thankful for the crazy journey we have traveled since May Day last year.

I have lots of time to "take it easy and rest" now, but it's the last thing I want to do! I can sense God's presence in the sound of the water falling over the rocks. We never know what day will be our last. We only know that the day we are in is a day to give thanks. A day to listen for His voice. A day to follow whatever path He has opened up in front of us.

I hope you all (y'all) are having a wonderful and happy May Day! And I pray that if this day finds you in a bad or sad situation, that you will be able to search hard to find one thing to be thankful for.

Linking up with RANDOM JOURNAL DAY 

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sometimes It Feels Wonderful to Be a Writer

How can we understand the un-understandable?

Oh my gosh, I am writing one last blog post for the lovely website 5 MINUTES FOR FAITH and I love what I wrote! This is funny because the other day my good writerly friend Dawn just wrote her last submission for the same place and she talked about how much she loved it. Maybe every once in a while when we know it's an important piece, the best stuff rises to the top. 

For this final message I literally asked God what my last words to these readers ought to be.  It came loud and clear and I am proud of what ended up on 5 MINUTES FOR FAITH tonight. Please go on over and check it out. Thanks you guys. 

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Places to Go and Rattles to Grab

Photo by Melissa Roden Klein - Baby Photography

Our world is full of amazing sights. Wonders that make you catch your breath with awe. I remember seeing Yosemite Falls for the first time from the backseat of my parents car. Looking through those windows and knowing that my eyes were on something wonderful and magical. 

Last Sunday afternoon my heart was captured and my eyes were transfixed on a new wonder. I held my breath while watching my 6 month old grandson work out the mechanics of crawling. Seriously you guys, this is a crazy-ridiculous accomplishment. 

After only a few short months on the planet, this little guy is working hard on getting his four limbs to cooperate with one another. His eyes see the rattle, but it is out of reach. If only he can get his arms and legs to lift his heavy body up and take it from here to there. 

His arms straighten out and up goes the chest. But the chunky legs are still sprawled out behind him. He is tired of his earlier system of inch-worming his body forward. He knows there has to be a better, faster way to do this. With little grunts of effort the legs move into place underneath his body and he is in position for forward motion! 

For some unknown reason one legs darts out to the side as if trying to outrun the rest of his limbs. Pulling that leg back into line with the other leg, he rocks back and forth. I can see his eyes concentrating on the goal. The rattle is right there, we can do this! 

The four grown-ups are laughing and cheering him on. He breaks focus for a second and grins back at them. OK, back to work. One arm off the floor and placed a few inches forward, then the other. His legs are finally cooperating with the team effort and he reaches out for the rattle. Oops! Must have misjudged how close he was, need a few more synchronized moves to reach his goal. At last, all four limbs have worked together and one hand lands on the rattle!

YAY! His crowd of fans are cheering and he laughs with triumph! 

Forgive this grandma moment, but really folks, this sweet and intense work has impacted me to the core these last few days. I cannot stop thinking about it. There are so many layers of thought in this simple and quite ordinary baby-accomplishment. We have all passed this lesson. We have all somehow figured out how to get our limbs to cooperate in order to move our bodies from one place to another. 

But I am thinking about the crowd of four grown-ups who witnessed this daunting task last Sunday afternoon. His mommy and daddy and grandpa and grandma were all perched near by, watching the spectacle. We all wanted to reach out and help him. I wanted to move the rattle closer. Mommy wanted to put her hands in front of him so we would not have to see a face-plant. Daddy was on the floor next to his baby son ready to help. Grandpa was on a couch cracking up and grinning from ear to ear. 

We did help him. Our voices and presence helped him know that he was not alone and that he could do this thing. And honestly, we would have cheered no matter how the task ended. Baby Max was surrounded by people who loved him no matter what. If he had given up and decided to inch-worm his way to the rattle we would not have turned our backs away in shame. We would not have been disappointed in him one tiny little bit. 

You may know where I am going with this, but I can't help it. I am wondering why we think that God, our Father turns away from us when we fail to reach a goal or we make a bad choice? The Bible says that God loves us better than an earthly father. His love is not based on unfulfilled expectations or His reputation. His love is deeper and truer than even a great parent can give. 

God is actively cheering us on, as we figure out this life on earth. He is watching on the edge of His seat wanting to assist but knowing that we learn best by just doing it. His arms are ready to catch us and maybe prevent a face-plant or two. But sometimes they just have to happen so we know what not to do next time. 

As I watched my grandson learn how to crawl and even start working on pulling himself up to standing already, my heart was so full. I was enthralled with this little person who has so much hard work ahead of him, but so much joy and adventure too. I was reminded of that first glimpse of Yosemite Falls through a car window, and how it took my breath away. How it convinced me once again that God is near, and that I could hear His voice cheering us on. 

"That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; (His love)

19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!" 
Ephesians 3:18,19 Amplified 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Missing Mom

Tomato & Basil Chicken I made last week! So so good! 

I want to tell my mom how Baby Max tried to use my long necklaces as a rope to climb up to a standing position on my lap last Sunday afternoon. 

I want Mom to know that right now it is a sunny and warm April day and I am listening to a waterfall in my own backyard!! My very own waterfall. 

I want to show Mom my writing desk in our study. She would totally love it.

I want my mom to see what an amazing daddy her grandson is. 

I want some of Mom's cinnamon rolls this morning.

I'd love to see Mom's surprise at how much I am cooking these days and that I am beginning to like it...a little bit.

I wish my mom could walk through my new house. I know she would point out the bad bits, but she would like it I think.  

I want to go back in time and call Mom more often. I probably wouldn't roll my eyes so much now.

I have questions that she probably could not answer. But it would be nice to ask them anyway. 

I want to tell her that I get it now. I understand some of her crazy-grandma antics. I would be a little less grumbly about them now. 

Even a grandma needs her mom sometimes. 

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter In A Small Church | Random JournaL Day

No, it wasn't super pretty, but we loved it completely. 

My RANDOM JOURNAL DAY offering for this Easter weekend is a look back to a normal Easter while the Hubs and I were pastors of a small church for 10 years. My journal captured the happy and busy season of our lives….

I love Easter and all that it stands for. As the leaders of a small town church, Hubs and I decided that Easter should be as wonderful and full of life as Christmas, so we planned many special things for that one day each year. Our town, offered an Easter Sunrise Service where all the churches in town that could agree on at least one thing, got together to greet the rising sun with songs, scriptures and freezing people in the local park. So our church happily took part in the planning and organizing of this once-a-year gathering.

That meant I was dragging my two boys out of their cozy beds at crazy-dark-o'clock and bundling them up to go stand in wet, soggy grass for an hour. When I use the word “dragging”, it is quite literal. Imagine two little boys who woke up to find big baskets full of candy at the foot of their beds…lots of crying and dragging took place!

After the sunrise service I got my kiddos back home and packed up to return to the church for the annual Pancake Breakfast before the actual Easter Service began. In between each of these jaunts my boys are running back to their sweet-filled Easter baskets. The sugar rush is beginning to catch up with them, it will manifest itself later on when the real service is about to begin and the whole church is very quiet.

So, there I am, all dressed up and working in a tiny old-fashioned kitchen with an ugly apron over my pretty new spring dress as we pile pancakes on plates. Some of the men in the church were pretty talented in “pancake ministry”. The boys are now sliding out of my sight whenever possible to do who knows what on the blackboards of the Sunday School classrooms.

The fellowship hall of our little church was packed to over-flowing (literally) with happy, dressed-up families and many families who only came to church on this one Sunday each year. Our little church was excited to hit the 100 mark one day each year. It was loud, fun and full of life, I loved it!

Towards the end of the breakfast time I would sneak into the crowd and quietly gather the teen-agers to put them to work hiding plastic-candy-filled Easter eggs all over the church lawns. A few of the ladies in the church and I had spent several hours earlier in the week stuffing these eggs with non-melting, paper wrapped candies. While the grown-ups were eating the breakfast, we also somehow managed to get the little ones to decorate pastel colored paper lunch sacks for collecting their Easter eggs.

Rocker Son is showing signs of a sugar-high...

Keep in mind that during all this activity, Hubs and I are also being the gracious and inviting hosts to new people who were being brought up to us for introductions all morning. Because we were a small church, I had my hands in on every single activity. The beginning moments of the actual Easter Service were my first chance to sit down all morning and even though it was not easy to keep a couple of sugar-wired boys in control, it was beautiful to sit down for a bit. For some reason we had decided that it was important for the kids to be in the service instead of going out to the kids service on that day. Of course it was probably ME that made that decision because I was the Kids Church Director too! As I write this I have absolutely no idea how I did so much!

We had wonderful Easter afternoons with my parents and siblings who lived an hour away. After church we changed into more comfy clothes and packed ourselves into the mini-van.... hmm, I need to interrupt myself there and correct that statement. I changed into comfy clothes, but KEPT the boys in their nice outfits (such as they were by that point) so that Grandma could see how cute they looked. I let them change after Grandma got her pictures taken.

We got to watch the boys and their cousins do another egg hunt in Grandmas' yard and sit down to an amazing meal with tons of laughter and teasing. The drive home late that night would be a very quiet one as the boys snoozed with candy wrappers and plastic green grass in their hands.

As I read this bit of our history, it is hard to see where the beauty and contemplative aspect of Easter could fit. But it did. I remember catching moments of wonder and thankfulness in the middle of the chaos. We can sense the presence of God anywhere if we are looking for Him. He is there. He is here. He is with you this Easter. Stop and breathe. Whisper a “thank you” and remember why we get to eat a big meal and gather together.

...Click here to read other Random Journal blog posts.

Post Script Update: I hit "Publish" on this an hour ago and something has been nagging at me ever since. This post does not include the many wonderful people we had around us who were ALSO working hard to create a great day for our community. We had very involved people in our church and we had a small staff that was AMAZING! 

BUT, I had a bit of a control-freak issue and I was not good at trusting others enough to delegate as any good leader must do. If I could send back some advice to my former self, it would be to relax more and allow others to step up. They want to and need to. It creates a happier and more fulfilled community! 
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