~~~~~~~~~ "We are here for only a moment, wanderers and sojourners in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace." I Chron. 29:15 NLT

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The lightness of being...

Spent a wonderful Wednesday with our daughter and granddaughter. The baby started walking about a month ago and she's become infatuated with stairs--going up, coming down. How wonderful to see the enthusiasm, the joy of living in this little person we've all come to love since she was born 15 and a half months ago. I feel an awesome responsibility to treat her with the kind of love and respect I want her to have for others.

Isn't it something the way God planned life? He knew we had to start out as a baby. At what other age would our parents fall in love with us? Certainly not during our terrible twos or teens. Maybe at age 10, which is the age at which a "woman" best knows herself and is her most charming. By the time we reach the terrible twos our parents have fallen in love with us, putting up with the most atrocious behavior which makes them wonder why they wanted a child in the first place. But it's too late to give up by then. They remember the lovely baby who stole their love and who will now pull their heart-strings this way and that and use up their lives and livelihood until they reap the blessings in their children's children, and the circle of life starts all over again.

It amazes me how our granddaughter has such a well-developed character and personality by now. She has a delightful sense of humor and I never tire of playing with her and seeing her humor surface unexpectedly. She seems to know when she's being teased and gives me that know-it-all look that let's me know she's on to the game. She's having so much more fun since she started walking. Once she passed the first 30 steps and toddled off into the next room, her personality changed dramatically. She went from a somewhat whiney and clingy baby to running off laughing, leaving us behind, as if to say, "I'm a big girl now." Walking has given her a new-found confidence and happiness.

She's obsessed with balls. "Ball" was one of her most intelligible words out of her constant jabbering...and she loves to play with plastic balls of all sizes. She's also learned to scream. I was trying to teach her Mule Skinner Blues(a bluegrass song I used to sing from our band's repetoire), because I thought she already knew the yodeling part, and she enjoyed screaming it along with me. She tries to imitate my exaggerated sneezes, which throw her into giggles because I also lift my foot up when I do it; so she lifts up her foot and pretends to sneeze but so far all that comes out is a modified scream. She also knows bow-wow, moo, meow, da-da, papa (grandpa), quack, quack, but has forgotten how to say her name , though she said it months ago. Sometimes an almost-recognizable words slips through a sentence that sounds right, but isn't understandable. Her mother is teaching her sign language. That's the big rage now-a-days. She signs "more," "please," "drink," but also points and says, "huh," when signing doesn't work. It's a rather peculiar concept as I'm not sure what it accomplishes over the traditional way of teaching language. Time will tell, I s'pose.

This dear little granddaughter is a hugger. She reaches up to her parents and two sets of grandparents and snuggles cheek-to-cheek with her arms wrapped tightly around our neck. She's been doing this for months already. She'll hug anyone she's familiar with. Sometimes it seems to be a way for her to overcome her first shyness towards others. She'd rather hug than make eye contact. But I also think it's because she enjoys the feeling of love.

I generally go once a week to our daughter to help her out in whatever way I can and just to spend time together.. She's a busy farmer's wife and is struggling with quite a lot of normal pregnancy fatigue. While I'm there she works at getting caught up on accounting for the farm or goes grocery shopping. I often help with laundry, ironing, and washing dishes. This past Wednesday she took a two-hour nap while I played with my granddaughter and tried to get her down for a nap, to which she finally gave in just before Mama woke up. Though I'm often worn out by the end of the day, I can't think of a greater blessing than being a working mother and grandmother for a day.

Just as God gives us babies to fall in love with before we must walk them through all the difficult experiences of adolescence and the teen years, He gives us Spring and Fall so we don't fall out of love with the earth during summer and winter. I put out birdfeeders and birdbaths which provide us with a lot of entertainment. No need to turn on the TV or DVD. The birds, squirrels, and rabbits, are a moving picture of real life, a colorful diorama of how life works in its awesomeness and terribleness. We found a grackle floating in our little pool. I wonder if it was the one that was eager to take a bath in the pool and drowned himself in the process? Do his parents miss him? They're always so patient with the young who constantly follow them and beg loudly to be fed. The albino (white) squirrel that frequented our yard and was so entertaining the last couple years was found dead in the neighborhood a few weeks ago. I miss him. It's suspicious, or maybe just coincidental, that he showed up dead just a couple weeks after an amateur photographer published its picture in our local paper.

Thinking of living and being brings to mind Acts 17:28:
"for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'for we are also His offspring.' " (NKJV)
He created the earth and everything in, and on, it for our benefit and enjoyment. How we care for ourselves, our homes, our earth, and how we relate to others around us is an outward expression of gratitude to our creator, God. Our earthly family is preparation for our heavenly family. We become light to those around us, especially our children and grandchildren, when we live in the light of our Creator as He teaches us in His word. That is how we pass on the lightness of being from generation to generation.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Our sweet, beautiful granddaughter.


Ever since I saw a little piece about living life backwards I've thought it sounds like a good idea. Yet, I know better than to question the plan for life that has been given by the Creator. But it's fun to think of different possibilities:

The Life Cycle
I think that the life cycle is all backwards. You should die
first, get it out of the way, then live twenty years in an old age home. You get kicked out when you're too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You go to college...until you're ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a little kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating, and you finish off as a gleam in somebody's eye. -Bob Benson- (I've also heard this quoted by Christian comedian, Mark Lowry )

Last Sunday, Father's Day, our daughter and son-in-law told us they're expecting another baby in January! Our daughter and her husband are humorously creative. We were eating out, and I thought she had changed their daughter's clothes because the toddler had soiled herself. It took me awhile to notice that she was wearing a new t-shirt and when I finally read the words on the shirt it said, "I'm gonna be a big sister." Wow! That woke me up. A few weeks ago I thought my daughter's tummy was bulging a little and wondered if she was pregnant, but thought, "Naw," and let it go.

How do we do this grandparent thing? I find my thoughts alternating between joy and sadness. I remember how I met our granddaughter's birth with trembling and anxiety, unnecessarily of course. But with every grandchild, which I know are such a joy and blessing, comes the reality that we're growing older. I guess having grandchildren teaches us to grow older gracefully, huh?

Recently, I saw Dr Phil's show about people who are unable to let go of stuff, which enlightened me to some of the reasons I have trouble letting go. Letting go means we're growing older, we have to relinquish dreams and ideas because we just won't have the time to do all those things for which we've collected stuff. It's also difficult to let go of the past...some stuff connects us to people who have come and gone in our lives, and some to our youth when we were productive and anticipated a future we've now lost. I'm slowly getting deeper into my housecleaning project. It's been difficult since I'm such a sentimental old fool, but I'm trying to make it easier by first getting rid of the stuff I'm least emotionally attached to.

Why can't I be more single-minded and focused? It's just like me to try and take on more than one or two things at a time:
a new grandchild, ridding my life of junk, spending one day or afternoon a week with our daughter and granddaughter, volunteering at our church library which we're in the process of computerizing, wanting to read four or five books at a time.... Added to these are the fact that I have to balance and limit my time and energy because of chronic pain and diabetes. I want our home to be picked clean and ready to receive this new grandbaby. Most of all I desire and need a quiet time for Bible reading, meditation, and prayer to focus on what's important in this process called life. As I continue to create order in my inner house and our physical home, I know the when and how of other areas of my life will continue to fall into place. So, maybe my priorities and focus aren't as misplaced or chaotic as I sometimes feel they are.

Some people I know seem to have established the important routines of their lives early, and I wish I was one of them. I was efficiently organized when I was doing the mother role, but the empty nest syndrome, being unable to work, combined with learning to live with health problems blew my established routine to smithereens. Hopefully, with some hard work, I'll be able to create a comfortable routine as my husband and I approach retirement. Life is full of surprises and adjustments. I need to remember to be adaptable.

I opened a devotional book this morning that I checked out from the church library, Face to Face: praying the scripture for spiritual growth by Ken Boa, and popped it open to this verse from Is. 46:4
"Even to my old age, You are the same, O Lord, And even when my hair is gray, You will carry me. You have made me, and You will bear me. You will sustain me, and You will deliver me."
What a comfort those words are at just the time I need them. Through every stage of my life God has been, and always will be, with me. What a harvest of comfort and encouragement there is to be found in the Bible. I'm still amazed after all these years of placing my faith and trust in God, how He watches over me by providing just the right words, people, and thoughts to help me through times of joy or difficulties.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What is God trying to teach me?

I believe that things happen to us, and that our life happens, because we are to learn lessons in this life that will help us in the next. But sometimes I'm just plumb wore out from all the learning. When can I coast just a little bit? God, help me here?

Of course, I did plenty of coasting when I was younger. I just kind of let life carry me along without thinking too much about my spiritual growth and what plans God had for me, my marriage and family, community, world. Truth be, I can hardly get beyond myself some days, feeling like I'm treading water. One of the places where God speaks to me most is through finances. All my life, having "enough money" has been a real struggle.

I grew up in a home with parents who worked hard to provide shelter, food, and clothing for our family of five siblings. We never starved thanks to mom's beautiful garden and her ability to put food into jars and freezer. Dad provided meat and milk from cows, pigs, chickens (actually the chickens were my mom's project), and he got the most he could out of cash crops planted, cultivated, and harvested in summer. It was a perfect set-up in the 1940's and 1950's. Finally, in the mid 1960's, when the youngest of us five, that being me, graduated from high school there wasn't reason to try and scrabble a living out of 80 acres. Dad and Mom were getting older and farms were getting bigger. Dad could no longer both farm and work off the farm, as he had for many years, to make ends meet. Most everything was auctioned off (including some things I wish we had kept--like Mom's treadle sewing machine which taught me to sew) and Dad and Mom moved to a small, but bustling, farming town 20 miles from where we all grew up.

I set my sights on going to college, and endured one semester of a four-year liberal arts school, long enough to meet some friends and my husband. I wanted to major in music, but my advisor advised against it, unless I wanted to teach...which I didn't. Being a free spirit, studying wasn't one of my favorite things to do. I transferred to business school where I lived in a boarding house and shared a room with another student who is still my best friend after 42 years. My husband-to-be courted me driving me an hour back to Brown-Mackie Business School in Salina, Kansas so I could resume my secretarial studies for the week. I studied from January to October of 1965 and quit just short of receiving my secretarial certificate. I got through accounting class, but learning to do income tax was a bit too taxing for my free-spirit. Besides, my best friend left to get married, and my dating relationship was getting more serious. I took state boards which I passed and was offered a good job (in those days $5/hr. was pretty good money) at Fort Riley, but decided to move back home to take a job at the local hospital as a receptionist. That December I got engaged, and felt like the luckiest person in the world. At that time all my prayers were being answered.

Secretarial and receptionist jobs kept me happily working for several years. With both my husband and I working for the first nine years of our marriage we did well. We also had a small business my husband inherited from his parents. We didn't have to buy a house as my husband's widowed mother moved to an apartment and we lived in the house my husband grew up in. I always hoped I would finish my education, if not in the business field, then some other area, ranging from dreams of being a social worker to librarian. But most of all I wanted to be a writer, and did take writing classes and succeeded at getting printed when I took the time to write.

I finally did get a job as a library clerk, after our son and daughter were both in middle and high school. I loved that job for 12 years. By then my husband, who had lost another of several businesses, was working out of an office an hour away from our little agricultural town, which was economically challenged. He was doing a lot of driving as a sales representative for a home improvement company. We decided to move closer to his office in Wichita.

Since then, it's been touch-and-go. My parents passed away in 1986 and 1989 and I inherited $10,000 which instead of investing I spent on what, I don't remember. My mother-in-law is still living at 102 years old. The income she saved and social security that she made as a registered nurse is running low due to assisted living expenses, and if she keeps adding on the years, we probably won't inherit much of anything. Perhaps her remaining farm that our son-in-law is working will outlast her.

Our daughter and her farmer husband have given us a beautiful granddaughter with another baby due in January. It can be a wonderful life when I trust God to be with me through thick and thin, even when He chooses to withhold financial blessings. Admittedly, we're not very good stewards which is why we probably haven't known we've been blessed when we were.

The stresses have taken a toll on my health: I'm now tryng to learn spiritual lessons through diabetes and the chronic, daily, pain of neuropathy. God, where do I go from here, is my daily prayer, trying to remember to be grateful for what we DO have.

The words of an old song come to mind today:
"How many times have you heard someone say,
If I had his money I'd do things my way.
But little they know that it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind...

"Cause money can't buy back your youth when you're old
Or a friend when you're lonesome, or a love that's grown cold.
And the wealthiest person is a pauper at times,
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind."
~Author unknown, sung by Porter Waggoner

So I look to God to satisfy my mind, and grow me spiritually. He has given me the daily challenge of finding contentment in other people, places, nature, rather than money. Somedays I'm doing fine, other days I'm not doing so great. How about you?

"And he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Cor. 12:9 (KJV)

"I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours." Mark 11:24 (NLT)

Where is my belief? God help my unbelief.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Not me, silly. Our cat, Bunny Posted by Picasa