Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
One of my favorite Christmases was when I was about 7 years old. I remember this Christmas very well because my family was all together at my grandparents' house. All my aunts and uncles were there, exchanging gifts and laughing together. There was a coffee table with a bowl of walnuts in it and a nutcracker, and everyone ate walnuts out of the shell. There were Christmas songs playing on the radio. Suddenly we heard a knock on the door and a jolly "ho ho ho!" We had a special visitor--Santa Claus! He came down the stairs in a red suit holding a big red bag of toys for us kids. I would find out later that it was my Uncle Greg dressed up, but of course it was Santa to us. There were many wonderful toys in the bag, but the best one of all was too big to be wrapped. All the adults got kind of hushed and Santa said he had a special present for me. Then he went behind a door and came out wheeling a bright green scooter with tassels on the handle bars. I shrieked with delight--a scooter was every child's dream! This one was sleek and shiny and very fashionable. Santa then wheeled out a new bike for my brother, and he was thrilled, too. We couldn't stop talking about our new wheels. When we got home that night my dad brought them down to the basement and we rode around and around in circles until we were tired. I rode that scooter for years until I finally parted with it at a garage sale. I think my brother still has his bike up in the attic.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I love Christmas time. Christmas is the time when baby Jesus was born. Lots of people get excited about the gifts and other stuff and they forget about what Christmas is really about. At our house we try to not forget the true meaning of Christmas, but we sometimes forget.
Every year we go to our church for a Christmas concert. It is amazing to see all the singers and hear the music. I always look forward to the concert. On Christmas Eve our church has a play of the nativity for the kids. One of my favorite Christmases was the year when my mom and dad bought me a Felicity American Girl doll. I play with her, but I am careful to keep her hair looking nice. Every morning on Christmas I wake up, get my sister, and we both go into my mom and dad's room to wake them up. When they are awake, we open presents in the living room.
All my big brothers and my big sister come over for dinner. Before dinner we all sit down in a circle in the living room and take turns opening more gifts. I love it when all the family gets together. At dinner it is always crazy when all the plates of food are passing from person to person and everyone is talking all at once. That was the best Christmas I can remember.
Here is Liana's story: She was thinking of the Christmas when she was two but added some more recent details.
The countdown until Christmas has started. Soon it will be Christmas, the best time of the year. The best part was the family that would come. Even a two-year-old like me would not just care about the gifts. But I'm not saying that I don't want any presents. Christmas Eve is coming and that means the wonderful Christmas Eve concert. I'm strolling now through the house, my eyes gazing at the Christmas tree. Oh, what a beautiful tradition it is! Just lining up to Christmas is great! Going to the mall and getting the chocolate samples is awesome. On Christmas morning I got a doll house with furniture in it. It was sure a Christmas to remember.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
"How precious are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!" Psalm 139:17.
Aging is a universal condition. But the way we try to hide it, you would think it was a plague!
There are girdles which compact the middle-age spread for both sexes. There are hair transplants, wigs, toupees, and hair pieces. Dentures bring youth to the mouth, wrinkle cream brings youth to the face, and the color in a bottle brings youth to the hair. All to hide what everyone already knows--we're getting older.
Just when the truth about life sinks in, God's truth starts to surface. He takes us by the hand and dares us not to sweep the facts under the rug but to confront them with him at our side.
Aging? A necessary process to pass on to a better world.
Death? Merely a brief passage, a tunnel.
Self? Designed and created for a purpose, purchased by God himself.
There, was that so bad?
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Her hair grew thick and black and her big eyes didn't miss a thing. Even as a baby she carried with her the wisdom of the ages, serious and thoughtful. My little girl spoke in sentences just past her first birthday and could read all the letters of the alphabet before she turned two. She's always loved books and as a toddler would quietly take each one from her shelf and page through it, her little face so intent on learning and understanding. Then she would stack the books neatly beside her as she finished them. They were her treasures.
We're not like those fanatics who go out in the middle of the night to camp out around the Walmart waiting for the doors to open. No, we leave the house around 7am and head to the mall, search the already packed parking lot for a spot, and then join the throngs of shoppers. Usually we don't do much buying. We just soak up the festive atmosphere, eating chocolate samples from the speciality shops and drinking Starbucks coffee. Maybe get a glimpse of the REAL Santa. Yes, we have the real deal at our mall.
Today we left a little later because we were bringing Dominic and his fiancee with us. They came to visit from D.C. and we talked them into joining us on our "day-after-T-day tradition". This year the coffee line was too long and the peppermint bark quota had already been distributed at Williams-Sonoma. Penneys had no more of the free snow globes they advertised and Fred and Arielle couldn't go off to shop together because I was pushing Fred in a wheelchair! That was quite an adventure. Wheelchairs are even harder than strollers to maneuver in store aisles and trying to get Fred up a ramp was near impossible if not for Dominic coming to the rescue. But wheelchairs are great for holding things. My purse went on Fred's lap and shopping bags were linked over the handles. Friends, don't you miss strollers for that reason alone? I wish I had my old stroller just to use as a shopping cart.
Our big bargain of the day--a Land's End coat for Liana that was 50% off! The most enjoyable part of the morning--a late breakfast at a diner with Dominic and Stacia. After our busy morning we got to relax and talk before they headed back to the big city.
Black Friday evening will hopefully become a tradition too. Fred made a fire in the woodstove, the girls roasted marshmallows, and I wrote my blog notes on paper so I could be downstairs with my family. On Thanksgiving around the table our kids had said what they were thankful for this past year. Over and over we kept hearing from each of them, big ones and little ones, "Family." My heart if full of gratitude tonight.
Friday, November 20, 2009
My own daughter Arielle is now exactly the same age I was that eventful evening, November 20th, long ago. I wonder how she would have reacted to my circumstances. If I remember right, it was also a Friday night, like it is now. My favorite show, Gomer Pyle, was about to start and I missed it because my new brother was coming into the world, right in my parents' bedroom.
My mother was against hospital births. Actually she is still pretty much against the medical profession in general. She gave birth to five children at home. But this brother, born when I was 12, was the most memorable for me. I remember the mysterious noises coming from the bedroom and my dad having me run get things for him. It was both scary and exciting. I was worried about my mother but knew something incredible was happening. I was privileged to see my newborn brother immediately after he was born. My mom and dad nicknamed him Indian Sam because his little face was so red. (We didn't worry about political correctness back then.)
For homework that weekend I had to write a report for English class. I wrote about what was foremost in my mind, of course! I told about how I had assisted with the birth and everything about Indian Sam, the baby I already adored. I read my report aloud in class. The teacher's reaction was stunned silence. My classmates didn't stir or say a word either. I knew then that it was a weird thing that I had witnessed and maybe my family wasn't like other families.
My mother probably influenced me to have my firstborn son at home, attended by a midwife--a MAN--and his trainees, who sat around and smoked cigarettes in the bedroom where I was laboring. It was a horrible experience and the rest of my boys were born in the hospital. (Those births weren't much better, but at least the air wasn't toxic.) After nursing school I worked in maternity in a hospital in Oklahoma City hoping to make other women's births a little more pleasant. I experienced many miracles there, for every child born into this world is a miracle.
Indian Sam was a very special brother. My other two brothers were playmates, lots of fun most of the time, but this one was my baby. I claimed him as my own. My mother gave me a lot of responsibility in caring for him and I thoroughly enjoyed him. Even today, we have a close relationship. So, Happy Birthday, Little Brother!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I was thinking of her yesterday. Arielle and I went to my daughter-in-law's house to pick her up, along with my granddaughter Lana. We pulled in the driveway, and Lana dressed in pink hearts bounced out to the car, her long hair gold in the afternoon sun. I adore that child. I hope she knows it. Girls' Day Out! We had an afternoon of shopping planned.
Chrissy and I are both on very limited budgets, so we were very discriminating about what we put in our cart. Lana, being a typical 6-year-old with no cares about money, wanted a stuffed animal. Over and over she implored her mother to get her one. I too loved stuffed animals when I was a child. Unlike my daughters whose rooms are filled with them, I had just four animals over the course of my childhood. Each one was so very special. My grandmother bought one of them.
On a visit to California, my sister and I were in a store with my grandmother. Maybe we were clamoring for a gift, I don't know. But I remember my grandmother saying we could get something. I was old enough to realize she did not mean a big something, just a little treat or toy. A huge display of plush teddy bears caught my eye. Could we have one of those? I can still see my grandmother's face. She hesitated, wanting to say no, it was too much. But she said yes! My sister chose a brown and tan bear. Mine was pink and white.
Lana never asked me for anything. I could tell Chrissy wanted to get her something, but she needed to buy clothing instead. So I knelt down and told Lana about my grandmother and my bear. And then I told her that her own grandma would get her the animal she desired. She must have already had one in mind. She ran to the display and immediately chose a gray kitty.
Lana didn't need another stuffed animal. Maybe she shouldn't have been allowed a toy, since she kept asking after her mother said no. But isn't that a grandmother's role? To give when it isn't deserved? To indulge a child, to be the pushover? Parents so often have to be the "no" person. I want to be able to say "yes" to my grandchildren.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14. God gave our bodies the incredible means to heal. Broken bones repair themselves. Even the enormous swelling in Fred's foot and ankle had purpose--to splint the fractured bones until new bone was formed. We are very grateful for this healing.
Fred has 9 more days of school. He has persevered in his work and will graduate at the top of his class. The girls and I are counting down the times we have to make the mid-day drive to pick him up. They have adapted, and I have overcome my fear of the traffic and the stress it caused me each day. Thanks again to all our friends who have offered to help us. In the big picture of life, these weeks are few and could just be called an inconvenience. Running with footmen, not horses.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
After reading Wild Swans, and while waiting for Arielle to come home, I immersed myself in Chinese history. I was stunned by the brutality of the Mao Tse-Tung regime, in part because it was such recent history. Many events happened during my lifetime. In fact, Jung Chang was born the same year I was, so I would relate my life to hers at the same age. I was also stunned by my previous lack of knowledge about China. My history classes in high school and college were quite lacking in content.
Jung Chang has written another book titled Mao: The Unknown Story, co-authored with her husband. When asked why she wrote this book she says, "Mao was responsible for the deaths of well over 70 million Chinese in peacetime, and he was bent on dominating the world. As China is today emerging as an economic and military power, the world can never regard it as a benign force unless Beijing rejects Mao and all his legacies. We hope our book will help push China in this direction by telling the truth about Mao." Of course, the book is banned in China. Mao's portrait still dominates Tiananmen Square in the heart of the capital and he still reigns in the hearts of many Chinese.
So why does any of this concern me and why would I take the time to write about it here? Three reasons: 1) I am reading another memoir right now called Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng. This author was imprisoned for years and her daughter murdered by Mao and his cohorts. The great tragedy of the Cultural Revolution is on my mind right now. 2) I am still amazed by the comment made by the White House Communications Director, Anita Dunn, who said that Mao is one of her "favorite political philosophers." Please, someone explain this! And 3) An article in our big city newspaper last week was very disturbing.
The article was titled, "Vows with a dash of Mao: Looking for wedding outfits, young Chinese are reaching back to the Cultural Revolution." Chinese women are getting married in green military outfits with the red stars on the hats--the uniform of the Red Guard! The article says there is "nostalgia about the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution." And then this quote, "Estimates of the number of people killed, starved to death, driven to suicide, and died in acts related to political persecution run from the tens of thousands to around a million." Compare those statistics to those quoted by Jung Chang. Was it tens of thousands or 70 million? In either case, would Mao be your hero?
Supposedly two or three couples a week come in for their Red Guard portraits. The manager of the studio says, "I think it is fun to pose as a Red Guard. That is a special period that most young people do not know about. It definitely makes you feel different when you are in the green army uniform." The young woman responds, "I think it's very cool."
Young people in China have an excuse for their ignorance, living in a media-censored country. But what about us? Read, learn, and speak out! My children will learn about Mao. They will know the history of their country of origin, sad as it is. They will not be fooled by our political leaders or our newspapers that downplay what happened there. Did you know that public education in our own USA practices its own form of censorship? I will write more on that later. History is being re-written and it is absolutely appalling.
I know my friends and family follow this blog to read family news. You probably want to know how Fred is doing! For now I have to write what is on my heart.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Fred was already prepared with his argument for not having surgery. He wanted to see the X-rays himself and he wanted to try to heal on his own. The doctor is a sports medicine specialist and knows all about ankles, and he was willing to listen. He took another X-ray to determine if tendons had been torn and when he saw they were not, he said he would give Fred two weeks and check his progress. No surgery! Praise God for that!
The cast that was put on in the ER was big and bulky and straight, no bend in his knee, going all the way up his thigh. Fred was really having trouble getting around. This doctor took it off and gave him a "boot." This is a big black contraption that straps on his leg (but only the lower leg) and can be removed for bathing. Fred was so relieved to have this. It is heavy to lift but will make life so much easier. Fred can do more for himself but he has to be very careful not to re-injure the leg. Thank you everyone for your prayers. God is good.
What lessons in marriage we are learning. We have snapped at each other a little--Fred being a little too demanding and me being too resentful of the changes in our lives. This is the hard part. I remember how wonderful Fred was to me when I was sick five years ago. I need to learn patience.
Monday, October 26, 2009
The drive to church was absolutely gorgeous. I don't believe I've ever seen the trees so colorful. The sunshine was bright and the earth was golden in it's light. The brilliant yellows, reds and oranges of the trees were almost blinding. Thank you, Jesus. His gift to me on my birthday.
I walked into church between services to take my blanket to the drop-off table. Numerous people stopped me and asked about Fred. Somehow it was announced that morning that he was injured and the congregation had prayed for him. People asked what they could do to help. As soon as I got home someone called and said she and her husband would do everything that was needed to be done with Fred unable to help with Alpha anymore. That was a great relief.
Back home the girls and Fred gave me a wonderful gift! It was a squirrel-proof bird feeder on a metal pole that just had to be pounded into the ground. We set it up right outside the kitchen window and waited for the birds. (None yet.) I've missed my birds from last year after the squirrels destroyed our other bird feeder. Then my friend's son stopped over with a gluten-free cake, a card, and a book I've been wanting to read.
Another call came--my friend's husband offered to drive Fred to school early in the morning! What an unbelievable blessing! It is a long drive and I couldn't imagine how I was going to get the girls up so early, drive Fred down there, then either wait several hours or make two trips to come and get him when his classes were over. This man says he will bring Fred every day. I've prayed blessings down on Pete. What a good and generous man he is.
Later in the afternoon two of my boys stopped over and brought joy and laughter into the house. I am so grateful for my kids. My granddaughter Lana made me a card. It says, "Have a happy birthday, Grandma. Dream about your birthday all night!" I will, Lana.
As I sat at my desk I heard distinctly a cry of despair, screaming sort of. I glanced up at the TV and some psychopath was chasing another character. I heard the cry again, and thought for a minute it was Fred. But no, it must be the TV. Suddenly there was a pounding on the back door and a clear shout from Fred. I ran to the door. He was on his hands and knees yelling that his leg was broken. He looked like the swamp creature himself. Fred had just crawled through the mud from the shed to the door. It was not the movie on TV but Fred who was calling to me. I grabbed the phone and called 911.
Fred was taken by ambulance to our local hospital and the girls and I followed in the car. The waiting room had kids suffering with flu, as I suspected it would, but fortunately the girls and I were able to go right back with Fred. He was X-rayed and released 4 hours later. Three fractures in his lower leg from his slip on the wet ramp going into the shed. The ER doctor gave us an orthopedic contact and said most likely Fred would have to have surgery on Wednesday.
Not our plans for a quiet night at home with the girls. Fred was in pain and struggling to get around on his crutches. He is worried about his classes, as he is due to graduate in 4 weeks. He is concerned about having surgery and how long it will take for his leg to heal. He can't drive or do much of anything for himself. I am thinking I just can't do it all, driving him around, caring for him, plus teaching the girls. We were all very discouraged Saturday night.
Enjoy the ordinary-ness of life. When you are suddenly thrust out of your daily schedule and rhythm of life, all you do is long for it to return.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Valley Forge National Park hosted a special Home School Day with several hours of special exhibits and tours. It was a great, free educational event to teach the children about Washington and his troops during the winter of 1777-1778. The day was a gift--warm sunshine, friends, autumn colors, and the freedom to roam and not rush. We had no schedule and could just be in the moment.
We met at the Visitor's Center and a guide dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier marched 75 children up a hill to a high point in the park where we could see for miles. He explained how a sentry would watch and wait for the British and how he would sound an alarm if he saw anything. After we arrived in front of this man in the picture, he demonstrated how his weapon was loaded and fired. Sadly, we could see how cruel and savage a war in those days would be.
The children marched on alongside fields of milkweed and tall grasses with orange and gold trees in the background. The beauty brought peace to my soul. We came to a cluster of log cabins and it was bustling with activity. Costumed guides taught us about medical care in those days, complete with real surgical instruments. (Gruesome.) We saw how the soldiers were housed and fed that brutal winter. A woman in Colonial garb had an assortment of toys that children in those days might have played with, and they were fascinating to modern children like Liana too. Later we drove to Washington's headquarters along the river and toured the home he had that winter. It was the Pentagon of his day, the military command post.
It's amazing what an outdoor walk through beautiful country will do for you. The children ran around freely, exploring and playing. Moms could relax and talk and gaze across the rolling hills and imagine living in other times. Simpler times maybe, but with their own hardships. We all came home refreshed.
October, my favorite month, did not disappoint. But don't leave yet! I haven't had enough of autumn. How did it speed away so quickly? I wasn't looking, that's how. I need to stop and reflect more often. The cold and darkness of winter will soon be here.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
No matter what your opinion is on the safety and efficacy of vaccines, do you really think the government has the right to compel us to have our bodies injected with a virus, plus the mercury and all the other preservatives contained in the vaccine? This is America! Don't we have rights anymore? If the vaccines were so effective, and you are vaccinated yourself, why would you worry that I was not?
Here is where it gets ridiculous: Supposedly thousands of Americans have already contracted swine flu. The CDC stopped counting the cases. Why? In the face of a public health emergency, wouldn't they want to know how widespread the disease is? How can a governor make the call that we have a crisis if no one knows how many cases exist?
Are the thousands who have had swine flu already going to be vaccinated anyway? What are the health implications for that? No one has ever before suggested that a person who contracted an actual disease should then be vaccinated against it. My children already had chickenpox. So do they need a vaccine to prevent it? It's ludicrous.
Be watchful. Big Brother is coming to your house. Little by little our basic human rights will be taken away by the government. Maybe you think all vaccinations are a great idea, but just wait until your cherished rights are gone. We'll be living like the Chinese under Mao Tse-Tung. In fact, Anita Dunn, appointed White House Communications Director by the Obama Administration, has already said Mao is one of her "favorite political philosophers." Does that frighten anyone? Do people know what happened in China under the rule of Chairman Mao? Does anyone care? What is attractive about Mao that a leader in our government would have him as a hero?
So just what is this Communications Director? I didn't know so I looked it up. According to wikipedia, it is a senior staff position of the President and the responsibilities include developing and promoting the agenda of the President and leading his media campaign. Anita Dunn, aside from her high level appointment, is married to our President's personal attorney. Wake up, America! "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." (Ronald Reagan)
Jesus, when warning of catastrophic events to come, said, "See to it that no one misleads you." (Matthew 24:4)
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
On Sunday our new pastor, fresh from Kansas, spoke on greed. When I realized what the sermon was to be about, I was silently cheering, "You go, Pastor! Give these people some good Midwestern values!" (But I was quickly put in my place.)
The sermon keeps resonating in my head, so I will summarize it here, not just for you, but for me so I can organize my thoughts and impress these truths in my mind. The passage from scripture is Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus' words, so familiar to most of us. It starts, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth..."
Our pastor put to rest once and for all that the "prosperity gospel", the "name-it-and-claim it", and the "you'll be rich if you just have enough faith" messages are false doctrine and our church does not embrace any of them. God never promises us material wealth and I challenge anyone to show me where He does. (Our small group disintegrated, in part, over this very issue.)
Money has tremendous power over us. Materialism has a blinding effect, so much so that we can't see our own downfall. Our pastor said people have confessed many sins to him through the years, but never once has anyone said, "I have a problem with greed." The power of money is in its deceptiveness. Since Sunday I have prayed and asked God to search my own heart.
What we spend our money on becomes our treasure. We value what we have sacrificed to buy. If we spent a lot on something, we worry about keeping it safe so it isn't lost or stolen or broken. Look around at what you bought--there lies what you value. Jesus says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
We define ourselves by our "stuff." People who have less, we tend to think of as less than us. Or maybe we think we are better than those who have more because they are the ones who are "greedy." But it's not a matter so much as to what we have as to what we want. How do others see us? Do they see that we have an eternal hope, investing in the things that last forever? Or do they see us in the same rat race with the rest of the world, accumulating worldly goods?
So how do we break greed's grip on us? Our pastor said by anchoring our confidence in the goodness of God. We can't give to others and we continually want because we think God won't come through for us. Although He certainly promises that He will supply all our needs. Jesus said clearly, "Do not be anxious about your life..." We need to think daily about our dying, the pastor said. Be constantly aware that our life is short. At the end, will we be glad when we see what we spent our money on?
We need to treasure what God treasures. And that would be people. Value what is truly valuable and spend money and time there. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich." (II Corinthians 8:9). Rich in faith, rich in hope, rich in peace, rich in eternal life. Jesus sacrificed it all for us. What are we sacrificing?
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
When I was in 8th grade our school was on double sessions. That meant we started at noon and ended in the evening. Our bus driver would play the radio during the dark ride home and I remember Petula Clark singing,
"When you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go, downtown,
When you got worries all the noise and the hurry seem to help, I know, downtown,
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city,
Linger on the sidewalks where the neon signs are pretty, how can you lose..."
You know the words. The city seemed so exciting and glamorous to me then. When I was in high school my best friend and I skipped school and rode a bus to the big city of St. Louis. I wasn't impressed. It was exciting to be on our own for a day, but the city was smelly with diesel and I still remember the awful lunch I had in a downtown cafeteria.
Since that time I've walked many big cities of the world--Madrid, Paris, Washington D.C., Guangzhou. More recently, the girls and I were invited to a birthday party in New York City and we all had a marvelous time. Big cities can be thrilling with the bustle of the crowds, the skyscrapers, the exotic food, and watching people who live an entirely different existence from ours. They ride taxis all day and have important jobs where men always wear suits and women don't even wobble in the highest of heels. But always in the shadow of the glitz is the poverty and crime. It makes me uneasy, at the same time sad and on guard.
We live near a big city now, but I never drive there. Occasionally we take the train. This year, for the first time in my life, I've seen why people love the city and choose to live there. That's because a friend of mine moved downtown. Twice this summer she invited us for a walking tour, shopping, and lunch. Finally, the city in my own area became more familiar to me, not a foreign, scary place. My friend is so comfortable there that she put me at ease.
Last week we met her at the subway station for a day at the aquarium. The girls and I were amazed by the variety of creatures God has created. We enjoyed the exhibits and also our lunch outdoors along the river, catching up with my friend and our families' news. In the afternoon she dropped us off at a corner in Chinatown. It's rare that the girls and I would be loose on the streets of the big city to do whatever we wanted! Arielle and Liana's big request: they wanted bubble tea. That's what they had last time were in the city with our friend. We wandered around looking into shops and then headed for the train station, the girls quiet on the way home as they considered our adventure. I watched the heavy traffic along the highway parallel to the tracks as we all enjoyed our relaxing ride.
I love the freedom of getting around without a car. I love the history behind our city and the generations of people who made it their home. I love the diversity of people of every race and ethnic group. Kind of like the aquarium, so many different kinds, all swimming together, and for the most, living peacefully with each other.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
I am a week behind on things I would like to write. If I don't have early morning time, forget it. But the girls' school work is top priority. We did have a fun holiday weekend. We attempted another bike trail and this time Marissa went with us.
This trail was safer but much more strenuous. We climbed steep hills huffing and puffing and we flew down curvy slopes. I was very proud of the little girls. No one fell and they both kept up.
At one point the path led us into an area very familiar to us in earlier times. Fred and I had taken our big kids to play in this wildlife refuge years ago when they were the age of Arielle and Liana now. We came here often because we lived in a development right next to the park. We hadn't been back here in the woods in a long time and were surprised to see paved bike roadways where before there were just dirt foot paths. Suddenly we were all alone. The trail was so steep I guess most cyclists avoid it. Marissa and I kept pointing and saying, "Remember that?" We found a drop-off through dense vegetation where we once slid down on our bottoms, covering our clothes with mud and our hair with dry leaves. (I can't believe I really did that, or why. Wasn't I worried about poison ivy?) I looked over the edge down into the hole and was amazed at my foolish younger self. What fun we had though! Funny though, Arielle and Liana could never be enticed to do that.
We found the old path where Fred and Marissa used to race each other, Marissa trying hard to beat her old man. And then there was the place we once made a fort in the woods with Jon, Anthony and Marissa. We played some kind of pursuit game there, I remember. There was the grassy field where deer slept at night, and I guess still do, and where we once found our lost cat after he was missing for days. Later on, I got off my bike and looked through the overgrown brush to the apartment building where we used to live. Fred asked, "Going back in time?" Yes...but the present is so much better. It's not good to look too long at the past.
We were all in a thoughtful mood as we rode our bikes back to the car. I noticed people gathering in the pavillion. It looked like it was set up for a wedding reception. The last time we were in that pavillion was in February for the memorial service for our hometown soldier. Today the park is green and lush and warm. It's hard to believe it was once a place of sorrow and tears.
As we approached the parking lot, we heard music. Three people were singing, one playing a guitar. Their voices clear and sure sang, "Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace, streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise..." God's hand was on us this day, the beautiful music a gentle reminder of his constant presence, in times of heartbreak and also on a perfect day like this.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Sunday, September 06, 2009
When you're young you know you have a limited number of days on this earth, but there are just so many of them (you think) that you don't need to analyze this reality, and it's okay to waste some of these days. But I often think now about the finite number of years I have left and in the words of a song, "I don't want to miss a thing." I don't want to throw even one day away. So how do we put the brakes on a life careening ahead to its final destination?
I need to be in the moment. Not thinking about what is happening next week or that night or even the next hour. I tell myself to slow down! I practiced this on Friday. I am a task-doer. I have things to do and all day long I do them. Always thinking about the next task and how to efficiently complete it. I miss so much that way. My kids will remember me as busy, busy, busy, always doing. So last Friday, this is what we tried instead:
I sat next to Arielle at the computer while she did math and instead of looking ahead to see how many more problems she had left so we could get on to the next task, I enjoyed watching her work. What a gift to have my daughter beside me, helping her grasp the concepts and work the problems. I took the moment, pondered it, held on to it.
We walked to the mailbox and I noticed the the cool breeze that has come with September and what a perfectly heavenly day it was, sunny, with the late summer chorus of cicadas. On the back porch I found a perfectly whole, dead cricket, a female with an ovipositor, and I brought it inside to show Liana since she is studying insects and had just learned about the ovipositor!
Later, Marissa came over and I had laundry to fold and dishes to wash, but I just sat at the table with her and the girls and talked. I made her some gazpacho to try but mostly we did nothing but enjoy the evening. (I feel like I'm becoming my mother. She loves to sit and talk and, come to think of it, she used to be so busy too. But she has learned to slow down.)
Liana set up a Polly Pocket town and she wanted to show me who lived where and what each little house was for. These toys are very old. Marissa had given Liana her childhood collection. I didn't look for a way out of the doll talk but engaged in it. Liana wondered why there were no black haired dolls and I couldn't adequately answer that. (Toy companies weren't concerned about political correctness back then.)
At night I got both girls to bed, an accomplishment no matter how old your kids are, and then I noticed there was a full moon with a very bright star next to it. I went on-line to see what that "star" was. It was Jupiter! So I got the girls back out of bed so we could look outside at God's wonders.
One day of being in the moment. Not rushing, just holding and examining the treasures of life. The past is full of regret, best left alone. The future is uncertain for us all. But we have right now and this was a perfect day. I need something to remind me to stop when I'm tempted to DO rather than just to BE.