I read an article last night about yet another prominent Christian woman ending her marriage after 25 years. This woman has a world renown ministry. She writes books and speaks about marriage, family and home. And yes, there was infidelity in their marriage. No judgment toward her is intended at all — it’s just that the news is not only shocking, it is really sad. So as I sit here and look at this picture of Jon and me on our wedding day, and try to remember those two young people, I am overwhelmed with emotion. We were so young! We had no idea what love or life was about. I had just turned 18, and Jon 20. What were we thinking? And what were our parents thinking? My mom and dad certainly knew me well enough to know I wasn’t prepared to “adult” and run a household. Jon had always been an “old soul” — mature beyond his years. And I know that was what I saw in him (and was banking on). I remember a sense of panic when I heard the music start to play in the sanctuary, and my bridesmaids began their trek down the aisle. Seriously? Isn’t anyone going to stop me from doing this? But then I looked down that aisle and saw tears running down the cheeks of the man soon to be mine, and my heart calmed (we’ve taken some heat about that over the years…. yep, he was already crying on his wedding day). But here we are 43 years later. How does that even happen? And how do two kids hold it together for that long? To be honest, I’m not sure. Like everyone else, we’ve had our ups and downs. Seasons of great love and seasons of, well, tolerance). There is a famous quote, ‘never fall out of love at that same time’. So much truth in that. We rode out the seasons of “lukewarm” until they sizzled again. There were times I loved Jon greatly, and times I would look at him, and think ‘who are you? and what are you doing in my house?’. Years ago, I read the book, “The Myth of the Greener Grass”. Also truth. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. It is the same grass with the same crabgrass. We’ve stayed on our side of the fence, tending to our weeds, and nurturing our blooms. We were determined to get through any muck. So here we are, over 40 years later… a bit muddy, but still in love, and on our side of the fence. Neither of us has ever mentioned the D word. Divorce was never an option. A friend recently said, ‘we’ve hit a rough patch, but we keep soldiering on, right?’ Yes. That’s right. You keep your guard up and soldier on. But not in a bad, trudging way. Yes, you are in a war — with the world and our culture. Yes! Fight! But the fight isn’t WITH your spouse — it is FOR your spouse. Fight for your marriage! Keep your guard up! Watch over your shoulder! Don’t let anyone or anything come between you. Always always always depend on your faith and trust in God — He’s on your side. He’s fighting with you. Love your wife. Respect your husband. Jon wants the best for me. I want the best for him. And that’s why we’re still pulling weeds and planting flowers, tending to our garden on THIS side of the fence.
Have you been to one of those “gender reveal” parties recently? They seem to be popping up on social media almost daily. Couples use pink or blue props, usually bursting forth in an array clever surprises to make known the sex of their unborn child. Pink smoke. Blue confetti. People can be so creative. I think the best one I’ve seen so far is a domino-drop effect of household items (cards, balls, legos, funnels) that went literally throughout every room in their house before coming to a stop in the kitchen where the last drop of the “domino” caused pink water to flow into a pitcher. Ahh, a girl. Congratulations.
I think these parties are great fun and full of excitement over a new life. And a new life should be celebrated. Every newborn baby is a miracle. A tiny wonder.
Recently we welcomed our 5th grandchild into the world. Our own little miracle. There was not a gender reveal party for this little one. We received a phone call, an excited voice saying, ‘we’re having a girl!’. The party for this baby came about 3 weeks after her birth — a Naming Ceremony. That’s right, a party where this little girl was blessed with 5 names. Not all the names appear on her birth certificate, but all 5 names were picked carefully by family members to honor, bless and speak prophecy over this long-awaited child.
What’s in a name?
In Scripture, names of God Himself are mini portraits of who He is:
Elohim means the Creator.
El Elyon means the God Most High.
El Roi means the God Who Sees.
El Shaddai means the All-Sufficient One.
There are many more names for God — all beautifully descriptive. Adonai…. Jehovah… the names are endless and worthy of our research, bringing comfort and hope.
Jesus’ very name, in Hebrew, Yeshua, means to rescue, to deliver. The very purpose of His incarnation is revealed in His name.
Evidently God considers a person’s name important. In fact, many times in Scripture, God changes a person’s name. We see those name changes when something new has happened (or will happen) in someone’s life. Abram was changed to Abraham, meaning father of multitudes. He would become the first patriarch of the Jewish people. Simon, a disciple of Christ, was given the name of Peter, meaning Rock. Christ said Peter would be the cornerstone of the New Church. There are many more name changes recorded for us in the Bible, all weaving a remarkable, divine story.
In the book of Revelation, it says Believers are given a new name. As I’m typing this, I can hear the popular hymn in my head, “There’s a new name written down in glory, and it’s mine…. oh yes, it’s mine.” God gives each of us not only a new heart, but a new name, known only to Him.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17
Even now, in our culture, a woman typically takes the name of her husband at marriage — a change, a sign that something new has happened.
Names are usually chosen casually and are basically labels to distinguish one person from another. We often don’t give much thought to the meaning of the name. We choose names because we like the sound of them, or we know someone with that particular name whom we admire. For instance, names like John Wayne or Martin Luther carry a certain meaning based on historical figures. We often choose the trendy and popular names. And it’s interesting how names circle back around. Our great-grandparents’ names are popular now. Will this generation of parents’ names like Judy, Brenda, Steve, and Dennis be popular once again — maybe with our own great-grandchildren? Connie is a cute name, don’t you think?
And to be honest, we did the trendy, fun names for our own girls. We liked the way the first and middle names rolled off our tongues. And seriously, when the name Gochenaur is tacked on the end, the first names need to be light and friendly. I mean, our children were already going to be spelling out their last name each and every time as they grew up. We don’t even wait to be asked to spell, we just say “Gochenaur, G-o-ch-en-aur” — like the spelled out version is all part of the name.
We didn’t put a lot of thought into the meaning of their names.
The meaning of names, however, had actually been on my mind long before we were asked to choose a name for this new baby. I believe that children often “grow into their names”, and with that in mind, a couple of years ago, I had prints made for our 4 grandchildren. I researched their names and found the best possible meaning for each of their first and middle names. I had them printed and framed. I want them to see their names, and know the meaning behind each one. I want them to be inspired and encouraged to “grow into their name”.
What names do you choose for someone else’s child?
This new granddaughter of ours is American and Nigerian descent. Her daddy lived in Nigeria until he was about 17 years old. A Naming Ceremony is traditional to his culture. In Nigeria, names are chosen by the parents and grandparents, and they understand the importance of the meaning of the names given to their children.
And seriously, when there is an actual Naming Ceremony, you pause and think. You take the honor seriously. You weigh each and every name.
So what’s in a name?
Aletheia Oluwatumininu Promise Lydia Eliana Mobolade.
That, indeed, is the name of our sweet little granddaughter. It’s a mouthful, but I’ve finally conquered it all. That first middle name tricked me up for awhile, but it’s really pretty easy once you break down the syllables. And this post would not be complete if I didn’t share the meaning behind each and every name. So here we go…
Aletheia means literally to not forget, to remember the process, the journey, the truth. This name was chosen by Yemi and Abbey.
Oluwatumininu is her Nigerian great-grandmother’s name. Oluwa means God and Tumininu means comforted. Aletheia has two older siblings who never made it to their mommy’s and daddy’s arms. They are in heaven. God has comforted Yemi and Abbey with the arrival of Aletheia. This name was chosen by Yemi’s parents.
Promise. In her heart, Abbey felt secure that she would one day have a baby. Several weeks before Aletheia was born, Abbey chose the name, Promise, remembering what God had impressed upon her months before.
Lydia is one of the names chosen by Jon and me. Lydia is the name of Aletheia’s great great grandmother on Jon’s side of the family. Lydia Walters was a sweet, godly woman who loved her family dearly. We chose this name to represent Abbey’s family heritage. Lydia represents all the parents and grandparents in her family who have prayed for their children and raised them well.
Eliana is also a name chosen by Jon and me. We first looked at Ana, which means ‘full of grace’. Then we also found Elli (derived from Eli), which means ‘devoted to God’. When you put the two parts together, the meaning transforms to ‘God has answered’. Full of grace, devoted to God, and God has answered. We loved everything about that girl’s story.
And yes! God has answered.
What’s in a name? Hope, comfort, promise, family heritage, and answered prayers.
For this child we have prayed….
And for those of you who are curious…. this baby will be called, Aletheia (pronouned Uh-lay-thee-uh) and/or Tumi. That whole amazing long name, and we get call her Tumi. I love that. Makes you kind of wonder what God’s nickname for us will be, right? #aletheiatumi
I cannot even begin to tell you the meaning behind the title of this post.
Well, let’s see…
It is the last comment of a group facebook message between my daughters and me. It is actually the culmination of 3 different conversations we had going on, at the same time, during that particular post. The bantering went on for several hours as the girls jumped on and off facebook to add their comments. So, no, I cannot explain exactly what it means. Because it wouldn’t be funny. Now. You just had to be there. One daughter wrote back later, I snorted (out loud) at my desk over that last comment.
The girls were being witty and snarky and playful.
And it makes my heart happy. Still.
They are grown now, and don’t see each other often as they live miles apart. Two in the Midwest and two in the Rockies. Hearing them talk in conversation — even in text — makes me get all soft and sentimental inside.
I don’t think 4 girls so different ever existed under the same roof. I’ve said many times, there is no learning curve in raising girls. Nothing you learn from teaching one applies to teaching the other.
When they were little, the days were filled with giggles, books, dress-up, and endless hours of pretend play. I bought old prom dresses from consignment shops so they could be adorned in “princess” gowns for tea parties and balls. Other days, we would spend hours in the library, and each girl would come home with a stack of books. I had to have my own filing system at home to keep track of all those stories.
Not all days were “sunshine and lollipops” though. I remember saying before I was a Mother, ‘when I have my kids, they will not fight with each other’. Ha! As in any family, there were also days of scratches, bites, mean words, and fights. Days when one girl couldn’t stand the sight of the other. I remember lecturing about “sisters are friends for a lifetime” and “you take this paper and pen and you write 5 things you like about your sister“. Whew. Some days were just like that.
Where did those little girls go? It seemed like they would be under my feet forever. I would do anything to have a bit of that forever back.
Lord knows I pray for these children, these women of mine. They are my heart. And it makes me happy when they love on each other. So when they are witty and playful, even snarky, I cry big ol’ Mama tears.
The girls have told me there will be 2 epitaphs on my tombstone: On one side, “She just wanted them to get along” and “Edify, Edify” on the other.
I guess I could do worse.
The days are long, but the years fly by.
And if I ever do write “that book”, I do believe the title will be, A Babushka Pirate Named Maude.
Write 31 Days
Oops, I missed National Farmer’s Day. Did you? It was 3 days ago. I’m sure I’m not alone as most of us didn’t know October 12 was the day to honor farmers. The profession was first celebrated back in the 1800s, but no one has an exact date. October does seem fitting in celebrating National Farmer’s Day as it is in the midst of harvest.
It was originally known as Old Farmer’s Day. Hmm. We could have lots of fun with that title around my house. I’m married to a farmer.
Did you know more than 80 percent of the world’s food is still produced by family farmers? More than 500 million family farms manage between 70 and 80 percent of the world’s agricultural land, the U.N.’s “The State of Food and Agriculture 2014” reported.
I know I take my food supply for granted. When I run out of milk, eggs, beans, even cookies, I run to the store and replenish my supplies. Sometimes I even complain about the long lines, high prices and variety of food available in my stores. How about you?
So, even if we’re a few days late, let’s thank a farmer today for putting food on our tables.
Did you kiss a farmer today? I did.
I walked into the hospital room, and was shocked by what I saw. A old lady lie in the bed, mouth open, eyes rolled up toward the ceiling, sheet pulled up to the chin over the withered, disease-torn body. I hardly recognized my mother. How did this happen in 5 short months? The doctors were stumped and couldn’t find any answers as my Mom wasted away. They chased cancer, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and several other diagnosis. None were confirmed.
That was 14 months ago. We thought we would bury Mom before summer’s end. We prayed to God; we cried out to one another; and we complained to the doctors. “Why can’t you figure this out?”
When the doctors finally figured out what was wrong with her, my Mom’s near-death situation improved quickly. I feel completely blessed that my Mom is still here with us.
No grumbling today. No complaining. Thank you, Lord.
I love you, Mom.
A friend of mine is struggling as one of her adult children is going through something right now that is breaking her heart. We sat over a cup of coffee and talked about life, marriage, children, parents, and God …. yeh, that kind of friend. After we moved to this area, God answered my prayer, and put this kindred spirit into my life. I have only known her for about four years, but it feels like I’ve known her my whole life.
I have four children of my own — all girls, all grown. They are beautiful, strong, and independent women. Each daughter has faced her own challenges; and if I’m honest, some are still trying to figure a few things out. But then, aren’t we all?
Parenting is hard. And whichever stage of parenting you’re in — babies, toddlers, tweens or teens — that stage seems to be the hardest. Because every season is hard and takes it’s toll on us as moms and dads. I always thought when my kids were raised, I could take a deep breath and relax.
No one ever tells you that whether your child is 5 or 35, you hold them in your heart and think about them, their decisions, and their well-being every single day… forever.
No breathing. No relaxing.
I know that is not exactly true, and full-time parenting minors is certainly different than “parenting” adult children. A wise woman once told me, ‘when your children are little, talk to them about God. When your children are adults, talk to God about them’.
Which brings me to my point (finally)… I’ve been reading the book of Philippians recently. There’s a really simple verse in chapter 2 that we often teach our children. It’s a Sunday School favorite for memorization: “Do all things without grumbling and disputing” (Philippians 2:14). As young parents, we arm ourselves and quote that verse as we separate squabbling children. At other times, we make them repeat it as they march off to clean their rooms.
But THAT verse recently jumped off the page at me during a quiet time of reading and reflection. I had actually been having a conversation with God — about my children. I was arguing about a situation in which one of my girls finds herself. What, Lord? Even that? I can’t grumble about that?
And I heard, “No, trust Me” (not audibly, but loud, just the same).
“I do trust You, Lord.”
“Then why do you grumble?”
“Isn’t it my right to grumble when things are not going well for my kids? I want the best for my kids. Can’t I complain when things stink?”
“Do you trust Me?”
And there it is again.
Grumble or trust?
As a parent, the hardest thing for me to do is let go, and let God take care of my kids. I want control. I want to make things right. I want to fix things. I want to grumble. I want to complain. I want…
But it’s not about me.
And I think that is what God is trying to teach me. My kids are His. He is in control. He will make things right. He will fix things.
… in His own time
… and in His own way.
And He will get the glory.
And my children will be stronger and better when God works in their life (not Mom).
Do I trust God with my kids? Yes, yes, I do. So it’s about time I acted like it.
“Thank you, God, for what You are doing in their lives. Thank you for loving them… even MORE than I do. I praise You.”
My job is to pray and praise.
It’s hard to grumble and praise in the same breath.
God’s got this! God’s got them!
Breathe in, breathe out, relax.
If you’re just joining me, I hope you take the time to read the previous post where I expressed my struggle to find joy in my Christian walk. I think I left you with something like, “Being a Christian isn’t joyful, it’s hard work”.
You can read it here.
God did indeed have my attention. He knows that trials are often the engine that drive us to our knees. In my loneliness and frustration, I prayed. I’m sure it wasn’t anything eloquent or pretty. It probably went something like, “God, help me find you! I don’t want to do this anymore.”
There was no bolt of lightening or great big sign in the sky. And God didn’t take all my problems away, but He did answer that prayer…
I joined a Bible study at a large church close to our home. Those ladies will never know the life-line they threw to me, and how it literally saved my “spiritual” life. It was my first introduction to a Beth Moore Bible study. We would be studying the Old Testament tabernacle in her book, A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place. I had never heard of Beth Moore, but I had always been intrigued by the tabernacle, and I just thought it would be an interesting study.
But God had something else in mind … after all, I had prayed for Him to show himself to me. Why would he not answer THAT prayer?
As I began to study those lessons, I can remember waking up at 5 a.m. many days, and almost hearing God whisper in my ear, “Come, I have something to show you”. 5 a.m.!! Seriously? But God had NEVER woke me up before, and it was exciting. I was loving this study. I was loving God’s Word. Something was happening. It didn’t happen overnight, but I was changing.
Slowly I was finding my joy, my peace….my God. How? In ancient text about the Old Testament tabernacle, of all places? But I discovered in those pages that God’s Word was alive and active and relevant. Words written thousands of years ago were helping me cope with distraught daughters. Those words were helping me encourage my husband. Those words were helping me get through my days with a new contentment. The weariness had lifted.
I found joy not by my doing, acting, or working, but by seeking Him; studying His word, praying and keeping my focus on Him. Were my girls still unhappy? Oh yeah. Was I still sick and tired and sometimes stressed-out in our new situation? Absolutely. Did Jon’s job go “south”? Well, yes, it did. But still, I had this inner joy that circumstances couldn’t take away.
Throughout that study and the next one, I continued to wake up early and run down the stairs! Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” …wait upon the Lord.My focus needs to be on God.
My perspective had always been wrong.
I still go to church every Sunday. In fact, I still DO many of things I did when I was that young, frustrated woman. But my motivation has changed.
And my perspective has changed.
I’m looking UP these days — not out and about.
Do you have a joy that can’t be shaken by your circumstances? Are you looking out into the world to find a contentment that can only be found in God?
“God, help me find you!”
Listen, can you hear it? He’s whispering…
“Come, I have something to show you…”
Hey there! Do you ever just feel kind of bogged down in the nitty-gritty of life? Just trying to make it through the day? Even as you’re checking things off on your to-do list, does it still feel like drudgery instead of accomplishment.
Is there any joy in all that doing?
I’ve been thinking a lot about joy this week as I am preparing to teach a Bible study this fall in my church. The study will be on the book of Philippians, a book about joy.
Joy. It’s kind of illusive at times, isn’t it?
Years ago, we were attending a rather legalistic church. The Bible was taught in this church, and as a young Christian, I was devouring the sermons and teaching. However, looking back, I see that the sermons stressed action, doing, and works, but rarely talked about feelings, love and motives.
As a young mother of 4 young girls, I was DOING; I was ACTING; I was WORKING. I was attending every church service — Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, and you better believe if there was a Missionary Week, we were there EVERY single night. I attended a women’s meeting every Tuesday morning. Even if the girls were exhausted, even if I was stressed, even if other things were left undone. We were there.
Or we weren’t “good Christians”.
I was saved by grace, but living under the umbrella of works.
I remember feeling the weariness; I remember doing all the “right” things; checking off boxes on that list. One day, feeling stressed out and blue, I asked to meet with the wife of our traveling evangelist (they were home on sabbatical). This family was held in high regard in our church, and I admired this woman from afar many times. She was the mother of 5 children and taught Bible studies all over the country. She had it altogether, and I wanted her secret!
We arranged to meet in her small, humble kitchen over coffee. Uncomfortable at first, I finally explained to her that I was frustrated, weary and tired. I was doing everything that was expected of me and I felt worn out, used and — anything but joyful.
“I have no joy. Being a Christian is not joyful; it’s work!”
I don’t remember much more about the conversation. I only know when I left her house that day, I was overwhelmed with sadness. This woman had no idea what to tell me. She, too, was doing, acting, working.
And she had no joy.
Sometimes God has to MOVE us to enable us to see things differently. Nothing like a new perspective from a new perspective! A few years after that wife-to-wife encounter, our family relocated to Denver, Colorado. We left behind two “just-grown” daughters; we took two very unhappy daughters with us, a 7 year old and a 15 year old.
My life was a hot mess: I had unhappy children, trying to adjust to a new school, feeling lonely and betrayed. I think both girls cried themselves to sleep for the first 6 months. I had developed undiagnosed bronchial pneumonia and was sick for weeks. My husband was trying to adjust to a new job situation, and things were not going as planned in the office. I had no support system, but I was doing everything in my power to make this place home. I was scared. I was tired. And I was lonely.
And God had my attention.
The time in Colorado was challenging, but it was a life-changing experience, and I often refer to it as “the best year of my life, and the worst year of my life” (why we stayed only one year is for another post at a later time).
Tomorrow, and I’ll share how God took that lonely time in my life to change me forever. Join me here for, Finding My Joy, Part 2.
We just celebrated 41 years of marriage. That’s a very long time. We married young, too young really, but somehow we’ve made it work. Thinking about this, I jotted down a few reasons why I think we’ve made it 41 years… in no particular order, and with tongue in cheek for a few ….
- We made a vow to God
- We made a covenant with each other
- We made a promise to family and friends
- We created 4 children who count on us to hold it together
- We have grandchildren who need an example of what true commitment looks like
- He doesn’t beat me
- I don’t nag him (too much)
- He’s handy and can fix things
- I make a pretty darn good cherry pie
- We really do love each other
- We have never fallen out of love… at the same time
- We patch things up pretty quickly because I don’t like conflict; neither does he
- He mowed the grass for 35 years; now I mow it… life changes…. we adapt
- When he tells me he’s taken out the trash, I respond with “I love you too” (life got so much better when the epiphany of his actions became clear to me)
- I learned he’s not a mind reader, but when I tell him – with words – what I need, he responds with, “I can do that”
- I respect him and he loves me for that – confides and trusts in me
- Because he loves me in that way, I can trust him to lead
- He wants the best for me
- I want the best for him
- We have never said the “D” word – ever
- Divorce is not an option
- The grass is NOT greener on the other side…it is the same grass with the same weeds
- As we just keep working on the weeds, flowers do bloom — eventually
- We muck through until it gets better
- It always gets better
I know you lost your Mama way too soon. You weren’t ready to let her go. The cancer was ugly and quick. You barely had time to say good-bye. It was over in 5 weeks. And, really, you had just become a woman yourself. At that stage of life, who knows to ask their mothers questions of substance? Does anyone know the right questions when they are 22? But now…
It’s been almost 13 years and still the loss is like a vacuum at times. You ask about her often, wanting her sisters, her own mother to fill in the blanks. We strive to pull buried memories out for you, anything to give you more of her.
We celebrated yesterday because you are about to become a mother yourself. You thought this long-awaited baby would never snuggle in your arms. Getting pregnant has been hard. But here you are 8 weeks from motherhood yourself. And now, already, you know more about your mother than I could ever tell you. She treasured you when you were only a heartbeat in her womb. She rubbed her tummy when she felt you kick that first time — and every time after. She prayed for you. She cried when you were born. She was a good mother. She loved you more than herself. And she would do anything for you because that is what mothers do. You were the reason she didn’t want to go.
Motherhood is a miracle — The act of carrying and birthing a child; even the act of raising a child… As you love, teach and train, memories will surface at unexpected times. You will remember your mom through this little boy. When he skins his knee, something your Mom said to you will come out of your mouth. When he cries out at night because of a nightmare, you will remember how your Mom comforted you. It might be a field trip or a walk in the park, but it will most likely be a surprise to you. A new memory. And it will be sweet and precious and sad and happy — all at the same time. Motherhood is like that.
One day, your mom will meet this little one. And in ways that only God knows and understands, it will be as though she has always known him. One day, it will be okay. Until then, I hope you know how much you are loved. We cannot be your mom — no one could take her place. But her sisters love you like their own. We pray for you. We worry about you. We hold you in our heart. We will laugh with you and cry with you over all the ups and downs of motherhood. We already love this little guy. He, too, holds a part of our heart.
She taught you well — you are going to be a great mother.
“Following” along with 5 Minute Friday today with the word prompt: Follow
Go — 5 minutes
As a Christian woman, I try to follow after good things in my life. And I attempt to shy away from not-so-good things. I want to run after what will encourage, challenge, educate, and enrich me as a woman. I want good things in my life. Don’t you?
I follow a Girls’ Night Out group; a group of women that inspire and challenge me
I follow a weekly Bible Study
I follow some really good blogs by godly women
I follow the most current, popular Bible teachers
I follow my husband of 40 years, and feel so blessed to have his godly leadership
I follow what my adult children are doing and their children
These are good things in my life. Really good things.
However, am I spending time reading Christian blogs to get to know my God?
My husband is a great guy, and my children do need my attention, but they are NOT my God.
Am I spending time with godly women in the hopes of getting to know Christ? We talk about Him and I always come away encouraged. But I think it’s like trying to get to know Karen by spending time with Karen’s best friend. Why not sit down with Karen?
Sometimes I wonder if I am forgetting to follow after the BEST thing. Nothing replaces my relationship with God.
Not even the really good things in my life.
Stop! 5 minutes?
Linking up with Five Minute Friday as I write for 5 minutes on the word prompt: Door.
There are 4 very old, dirty doors in our shed. We salvaged them from my husband’s grandparents’ century-old home last fall. His grandparents have been gone for many years, and the house was sold and then a few years later reverted back to the bank. Then there was a fire. No one knows how or why. But the family bought it back — house and surrounding land. Land to farm; house to demolish. Sad. We wanted anything that could be repurposed. Woodwork. Stair posts. Doors. So many possibilities. (Thank you, Pinterest.) Will these doors become shelves? Or mirrors? Maybe a headboard in a bedroom. Doors of the past gracing the homes of great-grandchildren. I love that. I see a postcard attached to the back of each one — the story of Frank and Grace. Legacies…
I was browsing in a local shop the other day, trying to find some little gifts to add to a care package I was sending off later in the day. The shop owner watched me pick up this, set down that, and then asked if she could help me find something. I smiled and said I didn’t really know what I was looking for… do you have anything for a broken heart?
In the shop that day, the owner’s 7 year old daughter was helping her mother unwrap new jewelry for the display case. I was taken in by that little darling because her long wavy hair and pretty eyes reminded me of my 4 daughters. Each one of mine is grown now: Raising children of her own. Waiting to have children of her own. Trying to find her way. And mending a broken heart.
I made small talk for awhile, and shared just a bit of my mission for the day. As I continued around the corner and looked at some coffee mugs and wall signs, I heard the little one innocently ask her mother, ‘why is her heart broken?’.
After shopping for a bit more, nothing seemed quite right, and I decided there was probably not a purchase in this store that would meet my needs. As I walked back to the counter, I could hear the shop owner and her little girl whispering. The Mom looked up as I approached and said, ‘I asked her if she was away at college and had a broken heart, what would she like me to send her. She said, I would want chocolate cookies and you’.
Out of the mouths of babes…
No matter if a little girl is 7, 17 or 27, if her heart is sad, if she is hurting, she wants the same thing.
Chocolate cookies and her Mama.
As I said my good-byes to them, with tears in my eyes, I said, ‘enjoy her today… ‘. That young mother stared back at me with tears of her own, nodded her head, and hugged her little girl.
I had one more stop before heading home — the local bakery. Once home, I carefully wrapped the goodies and placed them in the padded box. I had been rushing to get the package to the post office before closing. But even with all the trinkets and goodies, the box still seemed incomplete.
‘…cookies and you.’
I wish I could fit myself into that box. And even if I did get to her, what then? Why does she need me? And then I knew how to seal up that box. Looking at the clock, I decided the shipment would have to wait until tomorrow. Remembering the challenge from a book I once read, Put Your Heart On Paper, I grabbed a blank sheet of paper and sat down at my kitchen table…
“My Dear Sweet Girl…… “
I sealed the letter with hugs and kisses and placed it in the box, and mailed it out the next morning.
Just her Mama’s heart and a few chocolate cookies.
My little 11 month old grandson is a beautiful baby, no bias on my part (smile). He is a mild-mannered, easy-going child. The kind of baby you can love on, and rocky-bye, and snuggle with, and then just toss into bed — and he goes to sleep. That kind of baby. The modern, child-rearing books call him an “angel” baby. I agree.
I have the joy of keeping him two days a week while his Mama works. He has been easy to care for, in part, because he has been such a “sleeper”. He gets up to eat, get changed, see his new world, for about 30 minutes, and then decides to go back to bed.
Don’t we wish we could do that sometimes? Eat, look around a bit, and then go back to our slumber. There are many days when I do not want to see the world we live in. I don’t want to turn on the news. I don’t want to watch any TV dramas. I just want to turn off the television, stay home, and hide.
The world seems to be falling apart around us. It’s hard to listen to the news; to hear all the hatred and destruction. People, everywhere, are searching for answers. There is no hope. There is no peace.
Peace can’t be found in people, places, or things. Hope does not come from material possessions. The world cannot give peace because the world does not possess peace — it is not hers to give. Hope and peace are gifts from God. Perfect, satisfying peace is given through the Spirit of God. He is peace. It is His to give.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Yesterday my grandson was crawling across my living room floor, and he saw my reflection in the glass on the fireplace. I was actually sitting behind him, holding up his bottle, but he raced anxiously towards that reflection. He was hungry, and he knew Gramma had the bottle. When he reached the fireplace, he stood up and pounded on the glass. He saw what he thought he wanted, but it was only an illusion. He began to cry, finding no comfort in that reflection of his Gramma.
Are we chasing illusions? Are we looking for peace in all the wrong places? Are we seeking hope in things of this world that only promise, but don’t deliver?
Jesus is right beside us. Look to Him for the peace you seek. He is not an illusion.
He is peace.
He is hope.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13
2. In the morning, before he leaves for work, he is leaning down, petting the dog and whispering sweet nothings into HER ear.
3. With an upcoming vacation, rather than being concerned about the packing or your reservations, he is more concerned about where the dog will be staying.
4. Even though he may have been “missing in action” during the night when the baby dirtied a diaper or threw up in the crib, he has the rag and cleaner in hand when the dog vomits or poops on the carpet.
5. In the evening, he is all snuggled up on the couch — with the dog.
6. He may not think to share his late-evening snack with you as he is giving the dog every other bite.
8. Upon arriving home from work, he greets the dog first, and then gives you a kiss.
9. Even when the house is virtually out of groceries, he calls to make sure you remember to pick up dog bones.
Thoughts about mothers and daughters and their relationships consume me these days. Motherhood is something most of us ask for and wish for; we enter willingly and with anticipation. We almost go into it lightly and casually. There should be classes, a degree, or a council of “Wise Old Mothers” to teach, train and warn:
This will be the best thing you ever do.
This will be the hardest thing you ever do.
This will be the thing you ALWAYS do.
Motherhood is forever.
Motherhood should come with a warning.
I am “sandwiched” between generations — a triple-decker club. Mother, children and grandchildren. Nothing really unique about that, I guess, as many women my age share the roles I am playing right now. But when it is your personal script, the emotions, changes, and role reversals are fresh and new and very complex.
You wonder how the women before you have done this.
And why didn’t you pay better attention.
My youngest child is packing up everything she owns for her last semester of college. I watch as closets are emptied, books are piled, drawers are scattered. Emotions run deep. I am happy for her. The timing is right. She has been an easy child. Wise beyond her years. Independent. But there is a sadness too. She has been away at college for three years, and it’s not like we will be new at this empty nest thing, but this seems final.
Everything she owns.
Wait! I’m not ready to let her go. I know I didn’t teach her enough. I have so much more to say.
But she is an adult now. Almost 22 years old. No longer a child. Roles…changing…
As she packs, my own mother is awaiting admittance to an Assisted Living Facility. She has been living in my home for 4 months. I have been her caregiver. She has had health issues for a year now with one major surgery and then a simple condition that wasn’t diagnosed correctly. It was missed. The simple condition turned deadly, and months and months of illness followed which wrecked havoc on her body and her mind. The issue has finally been addressed, and treated, but her body and mind are slow to recover. She is now half-well/half-sick. She was much easier to care for when she was very ill. She is sick and tired of being sick and tired, and she just wants to go home. And the doctors have said no. Each day, it is more challenging to care for her in my home. I can give her so much, but I cannot give her the one thing she wants — home.
I am trying to care for my mother. Roles…. changing… reversed….Emotions run deep.
There were 4 children running, playing, and napping in my house yesterday. It was chaos. Wonderful, loud chaos. Snacks. Bottles. Booboos. Squabbles. Diapers. Lunch. I have the privilege of keeping these grandchildren two days a week, and I love those kiddos like my own. I try to assume my part as Gramma — and not caregiver — whenever their Mama is around, but sometimes the roles get a little blurred. I know sometimes I overstep. Where the heck is that Gramma manual?
That daughter is the mother now. She gets this season to teach and train. Roles….
It is amazing to watch your own daughter become a mother. She seems to do it so naturally. Is it easier for her or is she wanting a motherhood degree herself now? She is part of the “sandwich” as her focus is on those children yet she keeps looking back at me.
‘Mom, you doing okay?’ She wants to take care of me.
The dance continues…
Emotions again… running.
A dear, sweet friend of mine, Ingrid Lochamire, invited me to do a World Blog Tour. The idea intrigued and terrified me. Ingrid is an inspiration and encourager to me and I absolutely treasure her friendship. How could I say no? She is a direct answer to prayer from God in this season of my life. I have only known her for about 3 years, but I have learned much from her and am in awe of her love for our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, Ingrid, for your kindness, outgoing personality, insight, and friendship. To see why I love this woman, she reveals her heart in Reflections on the Journey at: ingridlochamire.com.
The World Blog Tour asks us to answer a few questions. So here we go…
What am I working on?
I am currently working on a journal about my relationship with my mother. She became sick over the last year, and I have become her caregiver. She has been living in my home for the past 4 months. I thought the journal would be about our relationship; I wanted to capture my mother, and everything she had to give, before any disease took her away. And yes, it is about our relationship –the good, the bad and the ugly — however, her illness has taken many forms, and the diagnosis has been illusive to a long list of doctors. The journal has been about survival, hers — and mine. I’m not quite ready to share that journal. Maybe some day…
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My blog is about people and things I love, yet it has a little different flavor because of my history. I just celebrated a 40th wedding anniversary with my high school sweetheart. For 35 years of our marriage, he was a Certified Public Accountant. We lived in the suburbs of a “larger” Indiana city. But a few years ago, he decided to become a farmer. Much of my writing has been inspired by that career change and our move to the country. Does the name Zsa Zsa Gabor mean anything to you?
Why do I write what I do?
Even though I am relatively new to this writing thing, putting thoughts on paper has long been a passion of mine; something I was interested in exploring, but never found the time to do. For years, a couple of books about writing have called to me from my bookshelf. Books I had picked up in some quaint small town bookstore on vacation. But recently I was challenged in an online Bible study to do a blog hop. After one blog post, I was hooked. I often write about something that happened years ago. I don’t have a lot memories; my brain just didn’t store them. Writing helps the preservation process — these things I shall not forget. I also journal about current happenings in my life as I don’t want these memories to fade as others have. My writing is about me and for me. Think therapy. But if I can inspire, touch or help anyone, I give all the praise to God. He takes our burdens and blunders, and if we are willing, uses them to provide healing.
How does my writing process work?
I rely heavily on inspiration. I may go weeks without putting “pen to paper”, and then something just starts rattling around in my head, and I have to start typing. My writing is raw — nothing poetic from these keys. I just try to be honest and transparent. Honesty comes naturally to me; transparency not so much. So writing is my release. The way I share my heart.
Next on the World Blog Tour...
I’d like to send you to a fun blog about rural life: Rural Housewives of America. Follow their link at ruralhousewives.com. The blog started after one fun, lighthearted post went viral. Their vision for their site is a venue for rural women to share their stories of joy, success, failure and fear. The contributors to this blog are hand-picked by the co-hosts, Jenny and Katie, and represent an amazing group of strong, independent women of the rural world. From farm wives, to girlfriends, daughters, mothers, and friends, follow along with our amazing journeys living the rural life.
It’s Easter morning. I didn’t go to church today. I only remember missing one Easter service in the last 35 years. It was the day my first child was born — an Easter baby. We are going to celebrate her birthday this afternoon after our Easter celebrations.
I am grateful that my Mom is here with us to celebrate (she came here after hospitalization after all). She is feeling better. Not perfect, but better. She has so much more clarity. I can hear her talking on the phone with friends and family members, and she is making sense — and most of the details are accurate.
My grandchildren will be here today, and they will be excited to see that GG is home from the hospital. GG is what they began calling her when she came here to live with me. They struggled with a Gramma and a Great Gramma, and it all got a bit confusing. The 5 year old boy finally landed on GG — and it has stuck. I think it’s cute and endearing. Mom is almost 84 years old and she has been given a new name! Last week when she wasn’t here, my grandchildren were disappointed.
It is so sweet to watch their interaction. I know the days get a bit long for Mom with 3 or 4 children undertow. Sometimes the noise level gets a bit high, but she is getting to know those children as I know them. She is making an impression into their young lives that they will remember. I love that.
Welcome home, GG, the kids will be very excited that you are here. So Am I.
Talking with a friend recently, she shared her disappointment when her mom didn’t want to come to Easter dinner. “She’d rather sit home alone than spend the day with family?!” Since that conversation, I’ve done some thinking about it. Here are just 5 reasons that Mom (or Gramma) may not want to come to Easter dinner:
1. She is afraid of falling. She knows her own turf. She is confident and knows where to be extra careful in her house and even her garage. She doesn’t know your terrain, and it makes her nervous. She knows a fall could be deadly for her.
2. Her bathroom habits have changed in recent years and are a bit unpredictable. She is embarrassed, but doesn’t want to talk about it.
3. The conversation in a big group is confusing. It is too fast, and either too loud or too soft. It is often about subjects she does not understand such as social media, smartphones or current movies. It makes her feel unimportant and lost.
4. She feels secure in her own environment and in her own routine. She is very uncomfortable out of those surroundings.
5. Her world has gotten smaller and smaller over the years. The noise and space and people at a large family gathering cause her anxiety. Even though she loves these daughters, sons and grandchildren, the party-like atmosphere is often more than she can handle.
It’s hard to say what I will and won’t do when I’m over 85 years old. I know I don’t do some things now I use to do when I was 25 or even 35. So probably thirty years from now, I will have more things on my “don’t do” list than on my “to do” list.
Maybe we should look for ways to be creative with the elderly women (or men) in our lives. And when they decline a special dinner at our house, we could reply, “How about lunch one day earlier this week instead — just the two of us?”
The house is quiet. Everyone, that is Mom and my husband, has gone to bed. Recently due to illness, Mom has come to live with us. I know I should go to bed too. It’s late, and I will hate myself in the morning for not getting enough sleep. But I revel in this quiet. This time that is all mine. And it’s not like Mom is even much trouble; really she is not. But it’s just I need some moments when I am not responsible for anyone. Here. Now.
Earlier this week, when my husband got home from work, he stayed with Mom and I went to CVS . I told him I was going to pick up a prescription, and I was going to take my time. The drugstore, for pete’s sake, but we live in a small town where everything closes down with the sunset.
Yesterday, my sister-in-law invited my mother to her house for the day. After I dropped Mom off, I was like a kid in a candy store. What should I do? What should I do? Truth be told, there were not enough hours remaining in the day to get done all I wanted to get done.
This sounds like I am complaining, and I don’t mean to be. Seriously. It’s just being responsible for another human being is a little daunting…. again. It’s like bringing home that first baby. No one can prepare you. No matter how many times you hear “just wait ” you still don’t understand the constantness of parenthood until that baby is living with you 24/7. It’s like that.
In some ways this is good discipline for me. I can’t just drop everything and run to a store. I have to prioritize and plan errands. And that is a good thing. Thank goodness, I am a homebody by nature. Even so…
Today wasn’t a good day for Mom. And I am feeling very melancholy. She was so weak and frail, and I guess, sad. And that is hard to see. She is spunky by nature. No spunk today. I wonder if I’ll ever see the spunk again.
This is the 42nd time I’ve celebrated Valentines Day with you. You were barely, if, a man when we exchanged tentative kisses that first year. I most certainly was not a woman yet…. just a young teenage girl. But you swept me off my feet. You seemed to know what you were looking for in a soul mate. You never wavered — not once — such confidence. It wasn’t the normal “hot-shot-ego” kind of swagger of a teenage boy. Just a steady increasing tenderness and love for me. How could a girl resist being pursued in such a way?
I didn’t mirror your certainty in the beginning. I was smitten, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I saw beyond Friday night’s basketball game. I was anything but confident as a middle-child 15-year old. I wasn’t shy, but I was distrustful and hesitant. I was waiting for you to get to know me better — and then drop me.
But you never did. You got even more persistent.
I still have the little plastic statue you bought for me in 1972. He’s kinda funny looking, really, but those little gray statues of big-eyed, droopy-clothed people proclaiming a variety of things were popular and trendy those days. I remember my closest girlfriend asking what you got me for Valentine’s Day. We were on a double date, I think. I replied, ‘he got me this little statue that says, I Love You This Much’, and I spread my arms open about as wide as my shoulders. And you said, ‘No, he is saying, I Love You This Much, and you spread your arms out as far as they would go. I think that is when I knew you were here to stay. My friend was now smitten too. I think if I’d let you go, she might have been there to catch you.
But I never did. I rather enjoyed the pursuit.
I told you this recently, but I remember hearing the Wedding March music begin on our wedding day. As my bridesmaids began the trek upstairs, I panicked and looked toward the back door. Thoughts screamed in my head, ‘what am I doing? I don’t know what love is. I’m only 18!’ Funny how I remember that so clearly. But as I went up those stairs, other thoughts won out, ‘He loves me so much. He’s good to me. He takes care of me. He’s a strong, godly man’. When I reached the back of the sanctuary, there you were at the end of the aisle, tears running down your cheeks. Thankfully, I knew they were tears of happiness, or I might have still taken my leave.
And here we are over 40 Valentines later. I think, if I tried, I might be able to gather up all 40 cards tucked away here and there. While the kisses, cards and pursuit are wonderful, when I think of you loving me, other – not so lofty – endeavors come to mind…
I knew you were thinking of me when you shoveled the driveway and salted the ice on the steps. I saw your love when you filled my car up with gas and changed the oil. As we raced to the emergency room, knowing we would never hold that baby this side of heaven, I felt your love. When you saw my agony after knee surgery, and pampered me and made sure I got comfortable… that was love. After accident number six, you still asked if everyone was ok before you asked about the car. The simple call from work asking if I need anything picked up on your way home. Even on the days when we are both so bone-tired, we barely acknowledge the presence of each other, love is there. Solid. Strong. Unwavering. A Promise. Forever.
This is what love looks like… the day-to-day, nitty-gritty stuff. Hanging in there on the days I madly love you and hanging in there on the days I look at you and think, ‘who are you, and why are you in my house?’ What a difference 42 years has on one’s perspective of love. Yes, love is the pursuit, and I still want to be wanted — absolutely. But better yet, stand by my side through better or worse, for richer for poorer, through sickness and through health. Those were our vows… the covenant we made with one another. That covenant still holds… I love you.
I had the first date with my husband when I was 13 years old. Well, almost. The story actually goes like this: My 8th grade best friend called me on a lazy Sunday afternoon, wanting me to go to a movie. An hour later, a car pulled into the driveway, and my friend and her boyfriend were in the front seat with her mother (of course, we were not driving yet), and in the backseat was another boy, her cousin. What? She didn’t say anything about boys! She knows I already “like” a boy at school. I was instantly mad at her. I was also rather awkward at the age of 13, and didn’t know how to talk to boys. So consequently the next two hours were uncomfortable for all of us. I was irritated at her for a week, and didn’t give the boy another thought.
As a sophomore, two years later, I started attending the consolidated high school, and I saw the boy again. What? “That boy” was now a hot-shot tennis-pro senior. Wait. I know him. He knows me. We went on a date once. I was smitten. Unfortunately, he was dating another girl. So as I patiently bided my time, I memorized all the halls he walked between classes, and I walked them too, even if it meant I would be late for history. Is that stalking? Maybe.
One day, at the end of first semester, it was rumored that he and his gal had split up. So on that very day, when I walked down his hall, I actually raised my eyelids and made eye contact with him for the very first time. I smiled, said ‘hi’, and kept on walking. He must have been doing some stalking of his own, though, because when his buddy offered to set him up with a blue-eyed blond, he guessed it was me. We started dating that Friday night, January 21, 1972, and have been together ever since. We got married two weeks after I graduated high school.
After he finished college we moved to the city where he worked as a certified public accountant. We had 4 baby girls in the space of 13 years and enjoyed living in the suburbs. Life went pretty much as expected for about 35 years (there are many stories to be told, but they are for another time).
Two weeks after the unexpected death of my husband’s older brother, suburbia took a surprise turn. Coming into the kitchen that morning to get his coffee, my husband said, ‘I would like to take Jerry’s place back on the farm’. Whoa Nellie! Seriously? But almost as soon as I said it, I thought, ‘yes, of course that is what you should do’. He had been struggling with accountant work. He was bored and itching for a change. My husband had been raised on a farm, and he IS that boy on the billboard sign: You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Yes, that is what he should do; that is who he is; who he has always been.
So I did not marry a farmer. But I do find myself married to a farmer.
The “busy” times of farming are suppose to be spring and fall, but truth be told, life on the farm is always busy…there is always something that needs to be done. My husband is working harder than he has ever worked in his life, but he is happy and fulfilled in what he is doing. And even though I have done my share of complaining, I like this new adventure. We are a team, and I knew, in my heart, this move was the right thing for him. And if it is the right thing for him, it’ll be the right thing for me. We are figuring it out and making it work. That “other life” seems far in the distance now — it’s like he has always been farming. It is who we are; who we were meant to be.
We didn’t exactly move “back to the farm”. Our new home is still in a neighborhood, however, it is very rural. We live in a small town of about 700 people, and most of them still travel by horse and buggy or bicycles. We are in the mid-west and reside in the heart of an Amish community, Shipshewana. Farming and buggies — it seems as though I have stepped back in time.
Instead of pictures of our home farm and equipment, I thought it would be fun to share pictures of how our neighbors live and work. The Amish do not use modern equipment to farm — no tractors or combines! They use the original “horse power”.
Here is a peek at my “rural America”. (click on pictures for a larger view)
My dad was an “Archie Bunker” kind of dad. Any baby boomer knows what that means. His word was law. He spoke, we jumped. And frankly, I was kind of scared of him. He mellowed as he grew older. And even though he was challenging while we were growing up, he was our biggest cheerleader as young adults.
He was often sitting at the kitchen counter when I came home for a visit, a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He would raise his big hand and say, “Hi Hon”, with a great big smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes. I loved that he was glad to see me. I like that memory. He’s been on my mind lately. He’s been gone 25 years; he died too young… on his 57th birthday… and I don’t feel like he ever got to really know me.
Thinking about my dad, and reflecting on some childhood memories, I began to recall some of the things he said. I asked my husband about his father, and he too, shared some lessons from his dad. I asked other family members, ‘what did you learn from your dad?’, and the emails started arriving in my inbox. As expected, with many dads and granddads referenced, some memories were meaningful while others were a bit humorous; some a little sad while others joyful. But to be honest, we are a lucky bunch: For the most part, we had dads who loved God and family, and that is conveyed in the remarks made by their offspring. So here is a running list of some of the “lessons learned from Dad”. The memories and quotes are not all mine; they are from various family members, and in no particular order. I hope it makes you smile.
When pride allows you to turn down a gift, you have robbed the giver of the bigger blessing.
Life isn’t always easy.
Your work reflects who you are.
Your work reflects on our family.
You cannot be a model because you are too short and your boobs are too big. (That may sound harsh, but it actually can save you from years of starvation and make you depend on your brain. And to be clear, this was not my memory)
This is what you wanted — there will be NO complaining about it.
Good hard work never killed anyone.
Your muscles are meant to be put to good use.
Do not do what you FEEL like doing, do what you believe is RIGHT.
I would never ask you to do something that I would not do myself.
If you want to plant straight rows, always look far ahead — not right in front of you. (this has many applications for success)
Be smart, work hard, and take care of your things.
My Dad was a hunter, and he taught me how to skin squirrels and rabbits. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to skin one lately, it does make for good conversation at parties. My daughter was also admired by teacher and classmate alike when she told them her Mom could skin a squirrel!
Be quietly generous.
If you’re not a swearing man, dadgumit, what the hen?, and crimenetly…. all work.
If you are a swearing man, well…. you know…
Words have the power to stay forever. (You never know which words are the words that will live forever in someone’s memory…. make sure they are good words.)
My dad didn’t need to yell, for one lasered look over the top of a newspaper was all it took to stop the bickering amongst us kids.
Anything worth having is worth working for.
Don’t climb on the counter/cupboards. (No, really, don’t).
Don’t play in the car with the keys. And if you choose to, when the car begins to back down the driveway, run next door to Gramma’s like your brother does — before Dad comes out of the house!
One of the best memories I have of my father-in-law are words he whispered in my ear. Every time we were about to leave from a visit, Dad would hug me good-bye and say, ‘you’re such a great mother, you’re a good wife, I love you Hon’. I didn’t realize what a blessing that was until he was gone. It hit me hard on that first visit back home.
This is a short, fun list. I’m sure if I tarried, I could continue to add many more memories and lessons — good and bad. And even if the memory is bad, good lessons can be learned, if we are willing. Our dads impact us forever. I know my Dad left his mark on me. I love him and miss him more and more as I grow older. Wish I could share a cup of coffee with him now, and hear his sweet, “Hi Hon” again.
What lessons did you learn from your dad?
10. Taking care of those kids will wear you out! You think it’s because you are old now. It is actually because we have chosen to forget the chaos of mothering. They wear their mother out too, but she can’t “give them back” at the end of the day.
9. You need to be the one to initiate “together” time. They do not need gifts as much as they need your time. Be involved. If you do not, when they are teens and adults, they will not come around.
8. Be joyful, be happy, be encouraging. Your grandkids need that….if you are lighthearted, they will crave your company.
7. Ask meaningful questions. Don’t ask their age and school grade; you should know those answers. Those are the questions that strangers ask. And yes, they are getting taller and bigger, but don’t talk about that …again. Do you know their favorite color? food? movie? Do they have hobbies? Get to KNOW them. Really really know them. Even long-distance Grammas — in this day and age — can know their grandkids really well.
6. Your daughter/son can criticize them, but you cannot. This is a good lesson to learn early.
5. You had your chance to raise your kids. Now is the time to be quiet and let your daughter/son find their way. Don’t judge. Don’t advise unless asked. Your turn is over.
4. They WILL make the house messy. It’s ok. You know how to clean. Relax and enjoy the time together…. and sweep after they are gone. And don’t complain about the dirt while they are there. Remember #8
3. Read to them and tell them stories. They love stories. Tell them good stories, funny stories about their Mom/Dad. Tell them stories about you and your childhood. Pass along a heritage.
2. Teach them something. Leave a legacy. What do you do well? Teach them that.
1. The love you feel for those children will surprise you…. and overwhelm you. And because you do not bear the responsibility that their parents carry, you can love with abandon. Its your job. What a wonderful new career!
Not only are the windows overlooking my backyard covered with fingerprints, there are numerous nose prints here and there on the glass as well …which makes me smile. Grass clippings and dirt stick to my bare feet and I kick a toy tractor out of my way as I go for my first cup of coffee. The house is quiet. I thought I would relish the peace this morning, but the lack of noise is almost too loud.
Grandchildren have kept me hopping for the last four days. The busyness has been constant. An old croquet set and a couple of jump ropes were discovered along with sidewalk chalk, frisbees and several other forgotten toys . Little boys talked me into setting up the tent so they could have a “headquarters” for an afternoon of detective work. We unboxed Barbies and Polly Pockets for one child and created bean fields out of blankets so the other two could harvest with their toy combines. Little hands got sticky with glue as paper plate scarecrows took shape. And Batman asked several times, “did I scare you, Gramma?”. We took an afternoon to meet up with Papa, riding in the combine and soaking up knowledge about corn and beans. Those inquisitive minds asking so many questions about farming. They love the red combine and wait anxiously all year for it to “wake up”.
And between all that activity, those small bodies were crawling up on the bar stools again and again, waiting to be fed… like little birdies. Seriously? You’re hungry again? My kitchen is now devoid of any cookies, donuts or fruit. I might also be out of bread and cheese. I’m not ready to take inventory and commit to a grocery run. I want another cup of coffee first.
I’m feeling a little blue as I savor my last few sips of Pumpkin Spice Blend. I once had four little ones of my own. I lived the chaos. But I have gotten soft and lazy… and self-focused. Caring for little ones doesn’t leave much time for reflection. Life is crazy. Life is about them. There is barely time for a shower! Survival is the goal on many days. It is easy to forget the mayhem of the day-in and day-out of mothering. I commit to pray more for my daughter.
As they covered me with hugs and kisses last night as they said their good-byes, I breathed a sigh of relief. However, at the same moment, bittersweet emotions brought a lump to my throat. So glad to see them… so glad to send them home. Am I allowed to say that? I guess, as Gramma, I am.
So, yes, the windows and floors are dirty; my cupboards are bare. And a few toys yet need to find their shelf. My bones are a bit weary. I need a break today. And quietly, as I go for my final cup of brew, I grab my calendar and mark off the days until those little kiddos are running through my house again… because I sure do miss them today.
A little seed, in a packet, content to be with other seeds. It is a comfortable, safe and happy place. Once plucked by the farmer, it is planted in a muddy, dirty place. And as it is watered, it begins to fall apart! That is a story told by author and speaker, Lysa Terkeurst. I love this analogy. I thought, as I’m sure did many others, I am that seed.
23. A while back, my husband made a sudden, unforeseen career change due to the unexpected death of his older brother. After being a CPA for 35 years, he is farming now. Yep, that’s right, he’s a farmer — the tractor, the combine, even the suspenders! The ground he farms is an hour from our home and he commutes now so that our youngest daughter can finish her high school years with her friends, school, and youth group, but eventually it’ll mean a move for us….. back to our roots… back to the place I grew up… back to my hometown. Not sure how I feel about that. Some days I think it’ll be okay, and some days it scares me to death. But I know in my heart it is the right thing for Jon. I’m trusting God: If it is the right thing for him, it’ll be the right thing for me.
“Number 23” is an excerpt from a list of random things about me — a fun little list that circulated around facebook several years ago. When I wrote that list, I had just been plucked from the “seed packet”. Even at that point, knowing change was going to take place, I had no idea of what lie ahead….. the ground was about to get mucky.
When the summer of our transition to the farm arrived, I was already dizzy from a high school graduation and open house party. Our second daughter was also graduating from nursing school and moving 1000 miles away. Daughter number three was moving across the country to follow her dream. And finally, our oldest daughter and her family were moving into a new home as well — thankfully that was a local move. I was preparing our house for market and had realtors with clients in and out of my house several times during the week. So much change. It had become the summer of moves. The activity had been constant for months.
So on that September day, there had been no time to prepare for the quiet that enveloped me, but the minute the car door slammed and we pulled away from that college dorm, leaving our youngest, daughter number four, on the campus, I felt it. It covered me.
I thought I knew what was coming. I thought I was prepared. But now that the rush of activity was over, I had no home, no children, no community, no job, no church and no friends (it was quite the pity party). I spent the week on the couch. The self-pity actually took me by surprise. Long story short, we had moved into a rental house far away from “the seed packet”.
I didn’t think all those empty nest stories would apply to me. After all, we had spaced our girls out; there had been children in our home for 32 years! Wasn’t it time for “us”? A time we had looked forward to — not dreaded. However, pulling out of that university drive felt like a creaky door, slowing closing on my past and all that I knew. There was nothing waiting for me at the end of this road to “home”.
” But I know in my heart it is the right thing for Jon. I’m trusting God: If it is the right thing for him, it’ll be the right thing for me. “
It has now been 2 years since that long drive home. It has been muddy. And there were moments when I felt like I was falling apart. Once or twice, I regretfully remember, walking through the house screaming, “I WANT MY LIFE BACK”. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know my purpose. I kept asking God, “what now?”
I am slowly finding my way as a farmer’s wife, learning to be content when my husband works 16 hour days six days a week. I am making new friends that challenge my thinking. I have become involved in some work that is teaching and stretching me as a leader and mentor. I am not sure what God has planned, but I hope to blossom into something lovely — not turn into a bitter old weed. I want to thrive — even if it means getting muddy along the way. “He is “making this right for me”.
The farmer has a plan for that little seed. He knows the seed must come out of the packet, get planted in the dirt and fall apart in order to grow. God has a plan for me… and for you. He has planted me here in this little Amish community. It is my choice whether I wallow in the mud and whither… or blossom. Where are you planted? Are you stuck in the mud? Don’t give up, take heart and choose to keep growing…a lovely flower may be about to bloom.
— dedicated in memory of my dear friend, Susi, who found her joy, and taught me to see my blessings.
My farmer husband is testing the waters today. Are the beans ready? Will they process through the combine without problems? Or should he wait a few more days. Harvest has begun, and with it, a hopefulness is in the air. What will the crops yield? Will the corn be dry enough? Will the beans be a “bumper” this year? Throughout the summer, I have heard, “the corn is doing well” and “the beans are suffering“. My Farmer talks about his fields like they are dear friends. He has planted, watered, nurtured, and prayed.
Now that harvest is here, what blessings lie around the corner?
That word has been rattling around in my brain for weeks, months even. And it has come up in countless books, devotions, lessons and videos. I even made a “blessing jar” at the beginning of the year. I prepared little blank cards to record any new blessings. The cards are dropped into my jar, with hopes of filling it up throughout the year.
I look for blessings every day. Don’t you?
I want to be blessed.
Once when I was talking on the phone with a friend, we were just chit-chatting about the small things. I began to complain about the mountain of laundry and the dirty floors. I grumbled about having to sweep and mop… again. My sweet friend replied, ‘Oh, I so wish I could sweep your floors for you’. Immediately, I was humbled… and ashamed. You see, when she was just a young mother, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and her disease was severe. Most days, she was in bed, not able to do the laundry or cook meals for her family. These everyday chores I dreaded, she counted as blessings.
Even the mundane tasks are evidence of God’s favor. I wash the dishes because God has given us food. I do SO much laundry because we have an abundance of clothes. I sweep the floor because I have the health and strength to do so. I make the beds because I have a home, a beautiful shelter, more than I need. Am I in want of yet more blessings?
I AM blessed.
I am completely, totally, abundantly blessed.
Even when we pray, almost every prayer — from everyone — begins with “God, please bless us”. What? There are well over 350 verses in the Bible with some form of the word bless, and most of them have to do with God blessing us! Our Bible is completely laced with God’s blessings on his people. We are exceedingly blessed. In Matthew, those counted as blessed are the poor, the mourners, the gentle, those who are thirsting for God as well as those who are pure in God, the merciful, those who keep the peace and those who are persecuted. I’m on that list. How about you?
I have gotten way too comfortable with my blessings. They have become my normal; my expectation. I am living in a paradise compared to 90% of the population. I am enjoying the “favor”, but often not remembering The Blesser. He has already given me much — over and over again.
I could spend the rest of today and tomorrow filling out cards for my blessing jar. Shame on me! It should be overflowing with cards! I should need another jar, and then another.
‘Let us bless you, God’ should be our prayer.
My phone chirps, after one morning of field work, I receive a text from my husband: ‘problems’ (he has always been a man of few words). I lean over and tell my “anxious-to-ride-the-combine” three-year-old grandson, ‘Papa is having trouble with the beans today’. This little man who has been listening to farmer-speak replies, ‘thats cuz the beans are p’bly not brown enough’. His wisdom makes me smile. And he is right, the beans are not dry enough, and our harvest will have to wait a day or two.
But whether the corn and the beans yield an abundance or not, we are blessed.
Yes, we are.
Dear Lord, may we bless you in whatever we do this day.
Lately I’ve watched a few people … those who maybe haven’t seen my husband since he changed careers. They aren’t good at disguising their surprise at the change. There is usually a little snicker or a “well there’s farmer Jon”. This man I married almost 40 years ago has always worn dress clothes to work, ranging from casual slacks and polos to full dress suits and ties, depending on the employer. But now, when he walks through our back door at the end of a very long day, he wears jeans, work boots, and suspenders — the really wide heavy duty kind of suspenders, designed to do a job — not to look cool or fashionable. And he is dirty. Very dirty. Because now instead of pushing a pencil, he pushes, pulls, tugs, crawls, bends — whatever it takes to get the job done — on the farm. He works hard. So hard. He is tired at the end of the day. And he is happy. And that is what makes the change okay — and not just okay — but worth it. He loves what he is doing. He knows it is good work. He knows he is making a difference. Farming is honorable work; work of which to be proud. He knows he is providing well for me. I know that gives him security and great satisfaction.
Do I miss the shorter work days and the well-dressed man? Absolutely! There are days when I am rather grumpy about it. But there are more and more days when I am just so proud of him and this decision he has made to follow in his dad’s and granddad’s footsteps. I have reached the point where I flinch a little at the “farmer Jon” comment. It should be said with respect. Farmer Jon — with a capital “F”. He is not only providing a good life for me, but like every farmer, is helping to feed the world. Yes he is. And that makes me proud — and completely okay with the ugly suspenders.
Does every empty-nest mother have this hollow feeling as she crawls into bed each night? Does she mentally think of each daughter or son? Names them one by one as she lifts them up to God, wondering what they are doing at that very moment? Are they safe? Are they well? Are they happy?
1. I started dating my husband when I was 15 1/2 years old (even tho I wasn’t suppose to date until I was 16). I married him two weeks after my 18th birthday. I have often wondered since then… “where were my parents? and what were they thinking?” 🙂 I have also thought many times since then…. Thank you, Lord, that Jon came into my life… I would have gone a very different direction left to myself.
2. I am the fourth child out of five, born after the only boy and before the doctor (my younger sister). I am 16 months younger than my brother….my Mom didn’t tell my dad she was expecting until she was 5 months pregnant! Five months!! Yeh. So all those “middle child” syndromes apply to me….all the flaws, quirks, insecurities… and strengths…. and I’m ok with that….. they have made me who I am today…and I’m ok with who I am today….finally 🙂
3. I lost a sister to cancer during the summer of 2002. I am still shocked by that almost every day. I wish I had more time with her… She was too young to die.
4. A job transfer took us to Denver Colorado in 2000 …for 11 months! I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I known it was going to be for only 11 months. It was the worst year and the best year of my life. And even now, many years later, I am still feeling the effects of that 11 months. I was changed forever.
5. I am closer to my siblings now than I was at any time growing up. Even tho we do not talk often — we love each other; support each other; and would do anything to help one another. I am blessed.
6. I sometimes look back on my parenting, and would like some do-overs…. a few regrets here and there…. but then, I look at my daughters, and think…. I must have done something right. I have 4 daughters that I count as best friends.
7. I am realizing more and more how very young my dad was when he died. He passed on his 57th birthday. I am sad that he didn’t really get to know my children…..or me. He was an Archie Bunker as I grew up…. but he mellowed his last few years….. he was a great Grandpa…….. I wonder what he’d be like now…..
8. I have given birth four times…. and I went through it without much thought, really… However, after watching my daughter give birth…. I’d like to have a talk with God about this whole process!! I have the privilege of caring for my grandchildren two days a week. It is a blessing to be a part of their everyday lives and to know them well. I hope I always know them well…. I want to be that kind of Gramma.
9. I cannot remember much of my childhood….I have very few memories… and that makes me sad.
10. I am a task-oriented person…. just give me a job to do!!! However, I want to be more people-oriented… and I am working on that…. “Mary has chosen the better thing…”
11. I once worked at a data processing job where the computer took up the whole entire room… and was fed with little cards I “punched” full of holes. When the boss wasn’t paying attention, my friend and I would calculate and “punch” designs or recipes on the cards …..anything creative to break the monotony. Those were the days before Clarence Thomas, and that same boss was often very inappropriate with me. If I knew then what I know now…… uurrr!
12. I paint a little; I draw a little; I sew a little; I know a little shorthand; I know a little sign language; I read a lot; I love to cook. “little” being the operative word in all those things.
13. A tornado almost destroyed us….it caused much havoc at the time… and we felt the repercussions even years later…
14. I have been actively/eagerly/regularly involved in Bible studies … and I am amazed at how applicable God’s Word is for everything that is going on in my life TODAY.
15. I have way too many Christmas decorations…. and yet I am still enjoy buying them over any other home decor items.
16. I bake pretty darn good pies, and often when planning meals, the pie is the first thing on the list, and I plan the rest of the meal around it. My husband is my biggest pie fan and has always encouraged me to go into business……how sweet is that.
17. When I was approximately 22 years old, I took $5 back to the 5 and 10 in my home town to repay the store for candy I stole as a kid. (sorry, Mom)
18. I have 11 nieces and 3 nephews…. I wish I had time to know them all better.
19. I love to shop for purses, shoes, jewelry and home decor……. I abhor shopping for clothes.
20. I once took a hot air balloon ride….. against my will …. but I am so glad I did!
21. I have been to Niagra Falls, Gatlinburg, Captiva Island, Coronado Island, Denver, Breckenridge, Key West, Covington Falls, the Poconos, New York, Chicago, the Ozarks, Arizona, and Orlando ….. but I have never been out of the country….. well, unless you count a hike across the border to Tujuana…..
22. My husband wanted to take me to Switzerland once…. but I was overwhelmed with motherhood at the time, and I turned him down. He went on that business trip alone. Did I mention do-overs???
23. A while back, my husband made a sudden, unforeseen career change due to the unexpected death of his older brother….after being a CPA for 35 years, he is farming now…. yep, that’s right… he’s a farmer…. the tractor, the combine, the whole bit. The ground he farms is an hour from our home and he commutes now so that Autumn, our youngest, can finish out her high school years with her friends, school, and youth group, but eventually it’ll mean a move for us….. back to our roots… back to the place I grew up… back to my hometown…. not sure how I feel about that….. some days I think it’ll be okay…. and some days it scares me to death. But I know in my heart it was the right thing for Jon…. and I’m trusting God…. If it was the right thing for him… it’ll be the right thing for me. “Green acres is the place for me….faarrmm livin’ is life for me…….dodo dododo dodo”
24. I have lost 7 close family members or friends in as many years….. but every one of them professed to know Christ as their Savior….. and I will see them again.
25. Wow….. long list…. of just random things… if you’re still reading…. thank you. I hope to use this space to share things about me, my life, my God…. and how I am still just trying to figure it all out. Putting words on paper is new to me. We’ll see if it becomes a passion ….or a chore 🙂
I know I know I know. I am still a “mom”. But I am not mothering. And for over 32 years, until NOW, I have been daily, actively mothering.