Saturday, December 9, 2017

Let's go fly a kite - even if it is December!

 Monday was December 4.  But because this is Chicago and you just never know what the weather will be, it was a really wild weather day!  It had been very unseasonably warm during the week before.  Like weather in the 50's - where you didn't even need a jacket.  But then on Sunday night we had a really odd weather shift.  The winter weather literally BLEW in!  The wind was just ridiculous!
Ken texted me very early on Monday morning (like 5:35am) to warn me to be careful driving up to Gwen's house because of the high winds.

But when you are a six year year old boy and you hear the wind blowing, what is the first thing on your mind?  Flying a kite!  So, even though it was December, we dragged out the kites from the garage and did some assembly.  Zeke's tractor kite did not come with a tail, and my years of (attempting) kite flying, I knew we had to find some way to add a tail.  So we tied two winter scarfs together and tied them to the kite and stepped out into the wind tunnel (back yard)!  Now when I say wind tunnel, I am not really exaggerating very much.  There were 50 mile an hour winds with even higher gusts.  I warned Zeke that it just might be too much wind.  He was determined to see that kite fly!
I just had to include this cropped close up of Zeke's face in this picture.  What a look of shear joy and wonder at that kite actually flying!   And boy did it ever fly!  Ellie found a much smaller plastic kite that came with very long tails attached.  This kite also managed to fly - at least for a little while!
By the end of two hours of mostly watching the kites dive bomb into the grass, the kids and the kites were pretty well done in.  And so was this grandma! We retreated into the house with somewhat crumpled kites, plastic pieces that were bent and frayed from the wind and lots of tangled kite string.  But also three very happy, smiling kids and one grandma (who looked like she had been standing in a wind tunnel for a couple of hours)!

It was a wonderful way to spend two hours on a Monday morning - when you are blessed enough to be home schooled so you are not sitting in a classroom, stuck in a desk.  This is especially true given the fact that by Tuesday morning, snow was blanketing the ground.  There will not be another chance to fly kites for several months.

You can sure learn a lot from a determined six year old boy (and equally determined 8 and 11 year old girls).  The rational adult in me said "It is too windy to fly a kite." and "It is December so we should not be flying kites."  These determined kids found the kites, got them assembled, figured out a tail for Zeke's kite, untangled some kite string, and then worked together to get these kites up in the air and flying.  What an accomplishment!

I have to confess that it is not only the adult thing that would have kept me from flying those kites.  I would have been very sure that it just would not work.  I like to think of myself as a realist, but actually I am more of a pessimist.  Thinking that things will never work.  And I am often so fearful, that I would not even try something.  What a blessing it is that I have been given the opportunity to be with my grandchildren.  They push me into situations that bring me so much joy and wonder.  Things that I would have missed out on, if I wasn't around them.

To recap some lessons that I learned from this....
*It is never too windy to fly kites!
*It is good to fly kites when you also have winter scarfs (for kite tails) and winter gloves (to keep that kite string from burning your hands) readily available!
*Never pass up an opportunity to do something slightly "out of season".  (That may mean running through the sprinkler when it is 70 in October OR flying kites when it is December)
*Don't be afraid to take chances.  You just might actually succeed!

Looking at Zeke's face in that picture gives me a little insight into why God so often used children to accomplish his plans.  When David was facing Goliath, he didn't think about the difference in their size.  He just knew that if God had told him to do it, he could do it.  The little boy with the loaves and fish didn't look at his lunch and think it was worthless.  He took a chance and brought it to Jesus.  I want to approach life with that same attitude - no matter how windy or stormy it is - no matter how impossible the situation might seem. I want that "Can Do" attitude! Yes, I will be remembering this kite-flying day in the future.

Jesus, thank you for giving us the chance to learn from children.  Keep our eyes and ears and hearts open to all that you have to teach us.  Holy Spirit, help us all to move when you give us that prompting to go and give us more courage to step outside of "normal" into your perfect plan for us.  Thank you for kids and kites and very windy days in December.  Amen

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Shoes that make a difference...

Last week both Ken and I got new shoes.  I was especially thankful for these new shoes since I had been having trouble with both my feet and my knee recently.  Let me tell you these new shoes  feel a bit like walking on pillows.  I just did not realize how bad my old shoes had gotten.  Which brings me to the point of this blog.  We are so blessed to have multiple shoe stores that are close to our home, we have the funds to purchase shoes, and we actually have more than one pair of shoes! 

Gwen happened to mention to me that someone she knows had sent her a link to a fundraising page for "Shoes that Grow" to be given to children in Mumbai, India.  I have actually heard of these shoes that will expand up to 4 or 5 sizes to continue to fit a child as they grow. 

I have been on several mission trips  outside of the United States. On each trip I was shocked at just how many of the children were bare footed.  In both Kenya and Uganda  I would estimate that 75% of the children that I met did not have shoes.  Seeing the dirt, the rocks and the general garbage laying around, it seemed impossible to imagine having to go bare footed.  While I have never been to India, I can imagine that this problem is just as serious there.  

I have decided to donate to this fundraiser in honor of my four adult children - Gwen, Tim, Doug and Susie.  Each of them have always had shoes and all of them are now buying shoes for their own children.   It really seems like such a small thing, yet I believe that this will make a difference to some boy or girl who may not have anyone to buy them shoes!

The link that Gwen got from her friend is Erica Roane - fundraising page.  While I don't know this person directly, I trust that these shoes will be purchased and brought to India.  And the cost of $15 per pair makes these even more amazing.   Please take a moment and click on this link to read more about these shoes. 

I don't often promote fund raisers on this blog, but this has just been on my mind since Gwen mentioned it.  The new shoes on my feet have also been a reminder of the blessing of having shoes.  

Thinking about this verse  Psalm 119:105
     Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path
it is my prayer that these shoes will come with the Good News of Jesus that will guide these little ones into the path of their destiny.  

Jesus, thank you for the opportunity to help children who are so far removed from me.  Thank you for Erica Roane and her heart to help this children.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to look outside of ourselves and our immediate families to see those in need.  Guide our steps as we each do as you direct.   Thank you for comfortable shoes!  Amen  

Friday, December 1, 2017

When your tower falls...........

I am so grateful for the time that I get to spend with my grandchildren.  Some Mondays (when Gwen is teaching preschool and Anna is attending preschool), I get to just be a kid with Lia, Ellie and Zeke.  On this day Zeke and I had been playing dominos - actually just matching the patterns.  But it was a fun time just talking with Zeke.  When we had played several rounds of matching, Zeke decided to build a tower.  I watched his careful thought process as he began the stack...
and his concentration as it got higher and higher and more unstable.  Until finally....
it all came tumbling down.    

I have been thinking about all the changes that are happening in my world right now.  Ken has only a few short weeks of work until he retires.  And these last weeks have been really difficult for him, as his entire work space has been packed up and shipped across the country.    
So for him, all those years of working seem quite a bit like Zeke's tower.  Built up, year after year.  One company leading to the next company.  Thinking he had a few more years to add to that tower.  When suddenly,  it all came crashing down due to a decision made by his employer to move the company out of Illinois.

I am extremely proud of Ken and thankful for his decision to just move up his retirement date (by a couple of years).  Right now we don't know exactly what things will look like after January 1, but I am confident that we will just start building a brand new tower!   We are looking forward to more time to travel.  Ken is certainly looking forward to more time for photography. It is amazing how adjusting your perspective can change everything!  Instead of being a really negative thing, this new phase of our life has the potential to be really exciting.  We are very blessed to have adequate resources to allow us some freedom in making plans.  I am grateful that we will have even more time and opportunity to spend with our family.  

Zeke had the right idea.  As soon as that tower came crashing down, he set to work building an entirely different kind of structure.  Sadly I did not capture a photo of this new building.  But it looked nothing like his first tower - yet it was wonderful.  I left Zeke happily building to go and make lunch.  I have spent many minutes thinking about this day and those domino buildings.  Isn't this a great reminder for us all.  

If you feel like your life has been knocked over and all you see are pieces laying on the ground, take a cue from Zeke.  Just stop and imagine all the wonderful things that you can now build.  Your new life might not look anything like was it was.  But just think about all the amazing things that you can create out of the pieces that are there.  With the help of Jesus, we can do wondrous things!

I love these verses from The Passion Translation -  Psalm 55:16-17

But as for me, I will call upon the Lord to save me, and I know he will!  Every evening I will explain my need to him.  Every morning I will move my soul toward him.  Every waking hour I will worship only him, and he will hear and respond to my cry.

So with God's help, I am looking forward to new and wonderful things in 2018!

Jesus, thank you for reminding me that something great can come out of what seems like destruction.    Help us all to keep our eyes on your purposes and to see beyond our current circumstances.  Holy Spirit, give us all creative ideas as we look at those broken pieces and give us peace as we begin to build something new.  Thank you for always hearing AND responding to us, Jesus.  Amen

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving recap... now on to Christmas!

We had a busy and wonderful week over Thanksgiving!  Quite honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to make the time to sit down and write these blogs.  It is certainly not for lack of things to share.   I thought I would kick off with this adorable "thanks" turkey that Susie had for the kids to create when we celebrated together.  I love this so much.  We did the traditional sharing around the table also, of our thankfulness and it was especially easy to be thankful with Grace sitting happily with the family in her highchair!  It has been a very thankful 10 months for us. 

We celebrated in our "traditional" way this year, which is somewhat "un-traditional".  Gwen and Tim and the kids came to our house on Thanksgiving day.  However, we do not celebrate this in the traditional way.  Oh, we watch the Macy's parade followed by the kids very favorite thing - the dog show!  We have lots of snack foods out.  We do eat a meal together - but not turkey.  It is our tradition to have lasagna for lunch.  I know it sounds a bit odd, but it works for our family.  This is because during that parade and dog show the adults are seriously scanning the huge amount of sale flyers that are enclosed in the ridiculously expensive papers that were purchased early that morning.  (When I say expensive, I mean it!  I needed a twenty dollar bill to make that purchase)  Now I know that many of you have strong opinions about shopping on the holiday, how unfair it is for the workers, etc, but I want to tell you that for Gwen and I this is a very real and important part of Thanksgiving.  There were plenty of years that we got up at 3 or 4 morning to go shopping.  The worst years were when some stores opened at midnight.  There was no sleeping for us those years.  I know that it is a hot topic but just let me say that it works great for Gwen and I.  This year we left the house at 3:00pm and hit five stores.  We were home before 9:00pm.  We got plenty of sleep and then left the house around 5:00am for the second round of stores on Black Friday.  We were especially thankful this year that the weather was moderately warm and we only stood outside in lines twice - once on Thursday and once on Friday.

Gwen and Tim and the kids always spend the night at our house on Thanksgiving night.  This is a big treat for the kids, who otherwise would not have the chance to have a "sleep over" with Grandma and Grandpa. 
Our Thanksgiving tradition continues with our real "Thanksgiving" happening on Friday at Doug and Susie's house.  Doug always smokes the turkey outside and it is always yummy. This years bird was a whopping 26 lbs!  We took family pictures at their house, but since these will most likely be in my Christmas Cards this year, I decided to keep them under wraps for now.  It was a glorious day on Friday with highs in the 50's so we took the kids and the dogs to the park.  Grace got to go on the swings and the slide and even ride the bouncy horse.  After our meal was consumed and all the clean up was done, Susie made cookies with the kids.  
Grace had her first taste of my Grandmother Johnson's recipe for "Butter Butter Cookies".  Needless to say, we all enjoyed these tasty treats.  As a special bonus this year, Gwen and Tim and the kids spent Friday night with a "sleep over" at Doug and Susie's house.  Really a wonderful thanks filled few days.

I think tonight I am feeling especially grateful for my family.  Our adult children all get along.  There seems to be plenty of laughing and talking and lots of hugs.  Even the three dogs got along well.  Unfortunately, not every family has this same report.  I know of several families who experienced much less wonderful holiday times with adult children who just can not get along.  There are also families where the adult children can not get along with their parents.  My heart is heavy for these families.  For often petty and selfish reasons, they are missing sharing time with those who should be the closest to them.  I believe that my family has learned the power and strength we have when we draw together.  The loss of a precious son, grandson, nephew and cousin helped us learn this lesson.  Each of our loved ones is a treasure that could be lost at any moment.  So time together is the most important gift we give each other.  So we choose to celebrate and be thankful together!

During the next weeks, as we are approaching Christmas, my prayer is for much reconciliation and thankfulness for families that have been hurt by conflict.  The love of Jesus is so needed!  Won't you please join me in a prayer for love, peace and joy between sisters and brothers and children and parents? 

Jesus, thank you for your great love for us.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to treasure our family members - even those with whom we disagree.  Keep our hearts tender to those closest to us.  Give us an extra measure of grace and peace during stressful times.   Jesus, help us to keep love a central focus of our family.  Thank you for special times to step out of our routines and be thankful.  Amen

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Operation Christmas Child boxes....

Today I finished packing and preparing my Operation Christmas Child  Boxes, in honor of Lucas.  I decided to do 6 boxes this year (one for each of my grandchildren) - all for two to four year old boys.   I love that this activity allows me to think about and remember Lucas while reaching out and making a difference in the life of little boys around the world.  I love the new plastic boxes that I ordered directly from Samaritans Purse.  They are much easier to pack and can fit more than you would think.  I made a list of everything that is in my boxes, just to give you an idea of how much these boxes hold.  Each of my boxes has....

A stuffed animal, 2 rubber balls, 2 small trucks, a small Etch A Sketch, a whistle, plastic farm animals, sunglasses, pencils and pens, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, scissors, paper, 4 wash clothes, 3 bars of soap, 3 toothbrushes, flip flops, hat, bandana, and a collapsible drinking cup.

I love the videos of children receiving these boxes and the stories of the impact of these gifts, shown on the Operation Christmas Child page.  Just click the link above and you will be amazed at the stories there.

The statistic that I saw this year that really stopped me dead in my tracks is on that page.  98% of these children have never received any kind of gift or present in their life.  Not only that, most have never even seen simple toys like those small plastic farm animals I put in my boxes.  So hard to comprehend this when children in our family - and in our community - have so many things.
Our family is really striving to cut down on the amount of THINGS that we give as gifts and instead are focusing on spending time together in fun activities.  This has been a big hit with the kids and the adults have enjoyed having a reason to make time to be together.  We have gone bowling, gone roller skating, visited the water park (more than once), had our nails done, gone fishing, gone to the video arcade..... you get the idea.

Three years ago, when Lucas died, our family was changed forever.  We each have a much different perspective now on life in general.  I don't take things for granted anymore.  Time spent with each other is so precious now.  We all hug more, laugh more and share more. We also cry more.  Things like Operation Christmas Child touch us in ways that are deep and meaningful.  Jesus is really the center of that change for us.  Because of Jesus, we know where Lucas is right now and we know that we will see him again.  The gift inside of that Operation Christmas Child box that is most important, is the booklet that will tell that child and his family about Jesus.

I wrote a message to these little boys on the inside of the lid of my boxes.  It was simple.  Jesus Loves You!  And next to that, I penned the words, "I am praying for you".  These boys will be too little to read those words, but I am trusting that some older person will share that message with them.  I will be praying for these boys tomorrow when I take my boxes to the drop off location.  And I will remember them in the days ahead.  I have a spot marked in my Bible... 2015 - Four little boys in Kenya or Madagascar  2016 - Five little boys in South Africa.  When I discover exactly where my boxes go this year, I will add that notation.  I will not forget about these little ones.

There is so much need and it takes many people to make this Operation Christmas Child work.  Even though it may be too late to pack a box this year, please go to that web site and look at the donation page.   There are many ways to be involved.   You can even create a box on line!  Do this in honor of someone special in your life.  Or in remembrance of someone you have lost.  Do this to bring that incredible smile and shout of joy to one small child.

Jesus, thank you for Operation Christmas Child and all the people who work to bring these boxes to those in need around the world.  Holy Spirit, remind us to be grateful for all that we have and to look for ways to bring the joy of Jesus to others.  Jesus, even right now, bless those six little boys who will open these boxes.  Thank you Jesus for the gift of Lucas to our family.  Amen

Friday, November 10, 2017

Honoring Veterans closest to me....

I just spent a rather frustrating hour or so looking through photos.  I was looking for a picture that I can see in my mind, but alas, I never located it.  I thought I was pretty organized, but this past hour has proven that I have a lot of work to do on my old photos.  I finally found a few photo's that will have to do for this blog.
I decided on this photo, taken in 1961, because these four guys are the veterans that I would like to share about on this Veterans Day (eve).  From left to right this is Greg Johnson (my brother), Roy Jackson (my brother-in-law), Jerry Johnson (my brother) and my dad!  All four of these men served our country in the armed forces.  Greg was in the Air Force.  Roy was in the Army.  Jerry was in the Army and my dad was in the Navy. 
I have shared in the past, about my dad and his service during WWII.  This picture just reminds me what a very big deal it was for him to leave and be gone for YEARS!  I can't imagine leaving a wife and two young kids - but so many men did.  He never shared much with me about his time serving in the Navy.  I heard most of the stories from my mom.  How I wish I would have asked him more questions about his time in the Navy.  

This is a screen shot I took today from a story my niece Nancy posted about her dad, Roy Jackson.  He was honored today for his service in the Army from 1953-1955.  He received a wonderful quilt as a gift.  Even my earliest memories include Roy, since my sister brought him home from college when I was only 4 years old. Karen and Roy met after his time in the Army.  I have very vivid memories of pictures of Roy in his Army uniform on the wall in Karen and Roy's home.   
This is my brother Jerry, and I am not exactly sure of the date of this photo.  I want to say it was 1962.    Jerry was away serving in the Army when I was in early grade school.  I remember telling people that he was "far away in Okinawa" - which really didn't mean anything to me.  All I knew was that he was not home and my mom and dad were worried about him.  
This is my mom and me with my brother Greg (in uniform) and my brother Jerry.  Greg was in the Air Force in Thailand.  He was gone during my late high school years and was still overseas when Ken I got married in 1974.  

Yes, these four men all served their country and sacrificed to keep us all safe.  It is interesting to me how many of my friends have no veterans in their families.  In addition to these four guys, Ken's dad and brother-in-law also served, as well as another one of my brother-in-laws.   

I know that not having your brothers around all the time is not the same as missing a parent.  But I know that my life was shaped by their time away in the military.  I remember especially the holidays that they missed with our family.  And I remember how much my mom and dad missed having all of their children together.  I think I felt this especially, as the youngest in the family.  We are all unique because of our experiences as individuals.  We share the experiences of our families.  And even more so, of our communities.    I feel that sense of pride and honor that is just a part of my family - as citizens of the United States of America.  I think that is one reason that I am so offended by the recent "protests" of our National Anthem.  I think about these four men and so many others,  who sacrificed and served for all of us.  And the many who are away from their homes and families right now.  Every member of the families of our veterans and service men and women have been changed because of their connection to the military and our great country.  

This is a time to stop and remember and be thankful for our homeland.  For all the great blessings that we have here in the United States. And to remember to pass on our stories of those who have served for our freedom.  Lia, Ellie, Zeke, Anna and Grace don't have fathers or grandfathers who have served in the military.  So I will be sure to tell them about the many in their family tree who have served and earned the right to honored on Veterans Day.

Jesus, thank you for the blessings that you have poured out on the United States of America.  It is your hand of mercy and grace that has built and preserved us through the years.  Holy Spirit, help us to give honor and respect to those who serve us - whether in the military or as law enforcement.  Jesus, break down the barriers that are dividing our great nation.  Fill this country with your great love.  Amen  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reminder of new life......

Today I found this really interesting object.  It is hard to tell from the photo exactly what it is, but it is something I have never seen before.  It is an acorn from an oak tree that has started to grow.  It is especially significant to me because I found this acorn at Lucas' grave sight.  Our family had gathered there to remember Lucas on his 3rd birthday.  I have mentioned before that this cemetery is really beautiful.  It is filled with tall, old trees - including a towering oak tree that shelters Lucas' grave.  I noticed all the acorns scattered around, and this was the first one I picked up.  What a wonderful reminder of God's plan for new life.  It may seem odd, but standing in that place, holding on to this little acorn, I felt the presence of Jesus.  There was assurance and hope today.  Assurance that Lucas is safe with Jesus and hope in the knowledge that we will see him again one day.  And Grace is evidence of the new life that Jesus has brought to our family.

On our return to Doug and Susie's house, we took this picture.  I love that this picture has all six of my grandchildren - Lucas represented by his picture and our precious Lucas Bear.   At nine months old, Grace was really not aware of the purpose of our gathering today.  She was just happy being with her family. 
I would title this picture "Grace, surrounded by her adoring fans"!  And besides her cousins, there were two grandma's, a grandpa, an uncle, an aunt and mommy and daddy.  So there was plenty of hugging and kissing of that sweet face.  

Grace will grow up knowing about her older brother Lucas.  She will hear many stories about him and see reminders of him all around her.  I often watch as Grace looks carefully at the pictures of Lucas. While our family chooses to remember Lucas especially on his birthday, he is always in our hearts.  

I wrote a card for Lucas today.... it reads..
Lucas Jacob Rowley

We will always love you.
You are in our hearts forever.
We see you Celebrating with Jesus
there among the Angels and the Saints
Dancing in the Spectacular Glory.....
                   of Heaven!

It is so fitting that today is All Saints Day.  The old hymn "For All The Saints" was one of my mom's very favorite hymns.  I have been humming that song all day.  I especially like this verse (there are way a lot of verses of this hymn)....
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Yes, Lucas is shining in that glory right there with my mom.  How fitting since his name means "Light".  I can see that beautiful little boy, running and dancing in that amazing light of heaven.  

Jesus, thank you for that wonderful little sprouted acorn.  What a great reminder that you ARE the life and it is you that brings new life.  Thank you for time with family to remember and reflect.  Holy Spirit,, help us all to keep our eyes turned toward Jesus.  Jesus, give us all a hope and vision of heaven.   Amen   

Friday, October 27, 2017

Time to stop, remember and reflect.....

Wednesday would have been my parents 81 wedding anniversary!   They were married secretly (kind of)  on a Sunday, during a late fall, early winter snowstorm.  This was not that unusual for South Dakota! The reason for the "secrecy" was that both my mom and dad worked for Montgomery Wards and in 1936 this was not allowed.  Of course, their wedding wasn't a secret to their families. The next weekend they traveled to Minnesota to celebrate with all the Johnson's. The cake topper from that celebration was also on my wedding cake and Gwen's wedding cake!  Admittedly, it was a bit the worse for wear, but the symbolism of that topper was worth the less than perfect bride and groom!
This is Gwen and Tim's Wedding Cake with that very old cake topper.  I'm not surprised that we don't have a really good photo of it, since it was a bit tattered.  In this picture, it was 65 years since it's first appearance, so I don't think that is so bad!  While writing this blog, I realized that I do not have a picture of my own wedding cake -  I looked, but sadly, there was no picture anywhere of our cake.  I guess it just was not that important to me.  Yes, I have been thinking about my mom and dad this week.  I thought it was interesting that the first snow of the weekend in most of South Dakota and Minnesota happened on Wednesday.  Thankfully, we have not yet had any snow yet.  But there is a freeze warning for tonight!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been doing my part in our ongoing home improvement project, by removing wallpaper.  This was another reminder of my mom and dad for me.  Mom would often tell stories about the hours that they spent peeling off very old wallpaper.  I guess that this made a pretty big impression on me.  Ken and I have mostly avoided wallpaper and therefore it's removal ....that is until now.  Somewhere around 2002, Ken decided to paint our really nasty kitchen cabinets.  It was an amazing transformation.  At least in the way they looked.  They were still the same old, very cheap and rickety cabinets - but boy did they look much better.  And I decided that it would be just great to add a wallpaper border at the ceiling.  Sigh.  I did like that wallpaper very much.  It was a snippet of the beach with the sand and water and shells.  At the same time, we repainted the entire living room, entry and hallway and created an overall "beach" theme (including several plastic palm trees).  I don't know exactly what I was thinking, but we also created a "window" on one wall with a wallpaper mural of a walkway to a beach.  So sitting on my sofa you might glance over and think there was beach just outside.  Can you tell that I love the beach?  But it was time for a change.

Last week the palm trees all went to Goodwill.  Ken removed the trim around the fake window and I started removing that wallpaper mural.  What an awful job.  I watched several YouTube videos of "easy wallpaper removal" and tried all of the tricks I had seen.  Nothing worked like the videos!  I finally figured out that I needed to first remove the actual picture portion of the mural and then the backing peeled right off of the wall.  But it was a LONG process to slowly peel off small bits of the mural.  By the time I had the mural removed, I felt like I had a really good system figured out.  So surely the kitchen border would be quick.  Boy, was I mistaken!  In the kitchen, the border picture portion peeled right off of the wall, leaving just the backing.  I was celebrating (since the backing had come off fairly easily on the mural)!  But the first small section took me a very long time to remove, and it was clear, once again, that none of the tricks of those videos were working for me.  I have stated very firmly, that I will never put wallpaper on any wall - ever again!  

I've been thinking about how often things don't go as we planned.  Even when we are careful and get all the information ahead of time.  Something  doesn't work right, the directions are not very clear, a piece is missing, you don't have the correct tool, or the wallpaper does not just peel right off of the wall.  When things like this happen, you really have a choice in how you react.  It can be a really big problem, or you can just sort of go with flow and make the best of things.  Boy do I wish that I was much quicker to just let things go and not so fast to become discouraged.  In all honesty (and remember I have always said that honesty and truth telling were the most important thing about this blog) I am a bit discouraged by this PROCESS of home improvement.  Everything is taking much longer than we had expected.  Since we are doing most of the work ourselves (or should I say Ken is doing most of the work), other things get in the way of our projects.  Things like work, grocery shopping, events we planned months ago - you know what I mean - LIFE!  Sometimes it is just hard to imagine the project ever being finished when the to do list is much longer than the "done" list.  

Last week at my small group meeting, we watched a short video clip that had some great advice. Instead of just praying about something (you would like to see change, or achieve, or have, or create) for 30 days spend 10 minutes each day praying about that something.  Then, after those 10 minutes - DO SOMETHING towards that something.  For example, if you need a new job, pray about this request and sit quietly with Jesus for 10 minutes.  Then spend 10 minutes doing something towards that new job.  It may be brushing up a resume, or researching an entire new field.  It might be learning a new skill that might change what job you seek.  What great advice.  A wonderful reminder that we can't just pray and do nothing - but we also can't just work without praying! It's about that balance!

This weekend Ken is away at a photography conference that he planned last January.  Of course we had no idea that we would be in this process when those plans were made.  In a few weeks, I will be gone for an entire weekend scrapbooking.  But in spite of my discouragement about these projects not getting done, I am so thankful for these forced breaks from all the "to do's".   I am going to using this new 30 day challenge as a way to focus on prayer and action.   I am sure that all of our projects will get done, in time.  We will have everything out of the boxes and back in place.  Walls will be painted and tools will be stored back in the garage.  I am convinced that the discouragement that I feel will be helped by this simple 10 minute prayer/activity challenge.  I will be sure to update on my progress in future blogs!  

Jesus, thank you for providing breaks for Ken and I from all of the tasks before us.  Thank you for reminding me of my mom and dad and the legacy of their marriage.  Holy Spirit, help us all to have more patience when things don't go as planned.  Revive us as we practice this 10/10 challenge over the next month.  Thank you Jesus for always hearing our prayers.  Amen

Monday, October 9, 2017

The rainbow with all the colors...........

My Saturday with the kids was a bit different than usual since it rained for most of the day!  Usually the kids spend many hours outside.  Instead, we watched a couple of movies - something that we rarely do.  Finally in the late afternoon, I prompted the kids to go outside with their umbrellas (just to burn off a bit of energy).    I took a quick picture of their umbrella "cuteness" since this grandma just had to capture this moment...
I left the kids watching another round of rain clouds forming in the sky, and went inside!  Suddenly the door flew open and Ellie announced, "Grandma, come quick!  There is a double rainbow!"  
And there it was! Standing on their front porch and looking at the sky, a perfect full arch, double rainbow!
I got several pictures of the rainbows, but I especially love this one with the kids looking at the sky.
It was such an awe inspiring and simply beautiful sight.  We all just stood  and stared for the longest time.  Then Ellie noticed something even more special.....
As the rainbow started to fade away, one portion became very visible and you could clearly make out ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW - even the violet (that is so often hard to see)!  My picture really does not do it justice, but you could clearly see.... (as the song says)


What an amazing thing it was to stand under that very bright and very clear rainbow with ALL the colors!  It was indeed, a bright spot in a very grey and dreary day.  And every though it wasn't the end of the rain that day, I know that as I reflected on the day, it was that beautiful "rainbow with all the colors" that stood out to me.  

Sometimes you just need that one bright colorful thing to change a bad day into a really good day, don't you?  I love the symbol of the rainbow and the Biblical promise to Noah that God would never again flood the entire earth.  It is the also a symbol of hope and light after times of loss and darkness.  Our family has been blessed by Grace,  a "Rainbow baby". Bonus picture of Grace - just because!

I found this description of a rainbow baby and I love it!  The time after Lucas died has felt like a storm with lots of darkness.  Even in that time of dealing with the ravages of that storm, there was hope.  We were able to hold onto the promises of the Bible, knowing that we would see Lucas again one day, and knowing that there would be a rainbow!  When the sun shines through the clouds, the rainbow appears.  Knowing that Jesus is always with us - even in those really dark and hard times - gives us hope!  

As I was thinking about this, I decided that really the rainbow is all about HOPE!  Before the storm, during the storm, after the storm, dealing with the effects of the storm...... when you think about that bright rainbow..... you have hope.  Yes, I am so thankful for that very special rainbow with all the colors.  

Jesus, thank you for always being with us.  Holy Spirit, remind us when it is especially dark, or when storms are all around us, that the light Jesus will break through those clouds.  Help us to hold onto the hope found in you.  Thank you for letting me see through the eyes of the children around me.  Amen

Friday, October 6, 2017

The prayers of a little girl....

Today I am having the special opportunity to be with Ellie, Zeke and Anna.  Gwen, Tim and Lia (who unbelievably is old enough to GO on the youth retreat with her mom and dad.....sigh) are away for a couple of days on a retreat.  So, it is just the younger kids and me, roughing it at home.  After a dinner of frozen pizza, a bath that was longer than it should have been, a bedtime snack, it was finally time to tuck those sweeties into bed.  Anna was first.  She insisted on "reading" to me her current favorite book (which she has memorized).  I loved that at this page she "read" SPRINKLES instead of freckles!  After the book, I asked her if she wanted me to pray or if she wanted to pray.  She immediately said that she wanted to pray.  She took a very long time and in whispered prayers that I couldn't hear, really poured out her requests to Jesus.  She told me that she really needed to pray for her "other" grandpa (Tim's dad) because he had a big line on his body and the doctors are giving him medicine.  But Jesus needed to make him all better. (As an aside, Tim's dad has recently had a major surgery for pancreatic cancer.) She prayed for her mommy and daddy and Lia and all the kids that are on "treat" to have a good time and be safe.  And then she prayed some more quiet prayers, just between her and Jesus. 

Let me tell you, there is nothing in the world better than the prayers of a little three year old.  What a powerful reminder that Jesus hears all of our requests.  That he knows even the things that we just whisper to him.  What a wonderful thing it is to sit next to a fresh from the bathtub, sweetheart as she sings Jesus Loves Me!

I really needed this time with the kids, more than I realized.  Lately, with all of our home remodeling, I confess that I haven't been spending as much quiet time as usual.  I have not really been very good at just stopping and spending time with Jesus.  Anna reminded me tonight that it is good to slow down and just rest and then pour out those whispered prayers.   I am thankful that I will have some time this weekend to do just that.

A friend asked me this week what I had been hearing from the Lord.  The message that has been in the front of my mind is that this is a time for us to be quickly connected to Jesus.  As I started to blog about Anna's prayer tonight, I realized that this might seem like a bit of a contradiction to that thought.  But it is really NOT a contradiction!  The key is WHEN you slow down and actually make that time to pray, you can be QUICKLY  in that intimate, one on one conversation with Jesus. 

I love that prayer can be part of everything we do.  When I think about this, I am reminded of the movie "Fiddler on the Roof".  (One of my all time favorite movies).  Through out the movie, Tevye (the main character) is constantly in prayer - no matter what he is doing.  There is a constant conversation between him and God. 

I want to do a better job of staying in that place of such an intimate connection to Jesus, that no matter the place, or the circumstance, a conversation can happen.  I believe that will be my goal for this month.  Won't you join me in this process? 

Jesus, thank you for this special time away from my routine.  Holy Spirit, remind me to open up the line of communication with Jesus through out the day.  Give us all those prompts to whisper our deepest needs to Jesus.  Thank you for always being with us, Jesus, even when we don't remember.  And Jesus, thank you for hearing all of our prayers!  Amen

Sunday, October 1, 2017

When an accomplishment gives you an improved point of view....

In a matter of just a couple of days, this little one went from learning how to sit up from her tummy, pushing up to a crawl position, moving forward (slowly) crawling, to zooming across the floor crawling and finally to pulling up to her knees!  All in one week!  Suddenly baby proofing is very necessary. And the dogs have decided they need to move when they see Grace approaching.  She has been fascinated by the many objects that she had never noticed before....things like magazines on a table!  Or the dog's food and water bowls.  And the cords for the lamps.  You get the picture.  This sweet little girl - 8 months old today - is growing up fast.  One of her favorite places to crawl towards is the patio door. 
She loves it outside and will sit and watch the trees and the birds.  I am sure that Doug and Susie will be finding many, many sets of hand prints on those doors!  One thing is for certain, she is not sitting in one place for very long these days.  There is so much to explore!  That new perspective from her knees has opened up so many wonderful treasures.  It's amazing what a new point of view will do for you.

Ken and I have had another busy week, working on our house.  Sometimes the "small things" take longer than the BIG things.  Last week the BIG cabinet installation happened.  This week has been about completing those smaller projects.  Things like cabinet liner, shelf adjusters, new wall shelves, door hardware, electric for the dishwasher - each project taking more time that you thought it would.  And these projects are not without their own challenges -  screws that are too short, brackets that didn't fit, wiring that wasn't correct.  Each challenge requiring one more trip to the home improvement store.  In the midst of those trips, we did manage to choose our counter top (has to be ordered and will be here in about 3 weeks) and sink.  It's pretty sad when the checker at the store realizes that she has seen you three times in one day!  

But, when I stand back, and look at those new cabinets, it is certainly an improved view over our old ones.  Each small project (even the ones that you can't really see) is its own accomplishment on the way to having an updated home.  I have to confess that I had to throw out quite a bit of expired food from my cabinets.  But what a great feeling to glance into those cupboards now, knowing that everything is organized and FRESH!  

I got a bit of a break from all the home improvement this weekend "dog sitting" for Sammy and Kylie, while Doug, Susie and Grace went camping.  I enjoyed the time playing with the dogs without having to keep an eye on Grace!  I managed to tire them out playing in the back yard last evening, enjoying our first really cool, fall weather.  This gave me the chance to see a really glorious sunset and breathe in some cool, crisp air.  

Earlier in the day, Ken and I had caught this guy lounging on our air conditioner....
I was surprised to see this Praying Mantis since they have not been around much anymore.  But it was another small thing, that gave us a break from our home improvement projects and shifted our vision outside for a bit..  

All of these home projects can really get to you and cause you to become so SELF focused that it is all you can think about!    Last night, I was thinking about how blessed we are.  We have a home - even if it is need of improvement!  We have food in our cupboards and the ability - both money and access to get more when we need it.  Here in the United States, we take our tap water for granted.  Turn on the faucet and there it is.  Yes, a roof over our heads, food and water and clothing.  So much to be grateful for.  Today I am thankful for a new point of view.  A point of view that has reminded me just how much I have.

I have been collecting items for my Operation Christmas Child boxes. If you don't know about this program, click on the link and find out more about this amazing way you can help someone who is NOT as blessed as you are.  For the last two years, our family has assembled boxes to honor and remember our sweet Lucas, who would be three years old this year.  It seems a fitting way to share with another little boy or girl, out of the riches we have been given.  Looking at the small items in each box and thinking about how much we have, it seems like a very small sacrifice to make.   And I can imagine that little boy or girl, opening that box, and suddenly having a very different view of the world.  A view changed by the love of Jesus, shared through a few small items out of our bounty. 

Jesus, thank you for being the one who can change our point of view!  Holy Spirit, help us to look around and see the many blessings that we have.  Even as we work to accomplish needed tasks, shift our point of view outside of ourselves.  Keep us aware of your presence Jesus, in nature and in other people.  Thank you for Operation Christmas Child and the many children who have been blessed through these boxes.  Remind us to share all that we have.  Thank you Jesus.  Amen

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gee, where have I been all month???

What a crazy busy couple of weeks it has been.  My last blog talked about all kinds of decisions that we had to make regarding the updating of our house.  Nothing is ever easy when you are trying to do as much as you can yourself (or think Ken is doing as much as he can).  Even just getting a delivery of our cabinet order was an ordeal!  The delivery service promised us a delivery between 1-3pm and by 4:30 we figured something must be wrong.  Then they said they would deliver between 6-8pm.  But at 5:45 we got a call that the delivery truck had been in an accident.  Several phone calls later, we managed to arrange to still get our cabinets that day.  They arrived at 8:15pm and all the cabinets were safely in our garage.  Sigh.

The biggest ordeal for me (the floor was the biggest for Ken) has been the removal of a tile backsplash we had in the kitchen.  It took me three full days to scrape off the tile.  And then three more days to totally remove the tile backing from the wall.  My hands (knuckles) and thumbs have many blisters and scrapes.  But the job is done.   The best part is feeling like I actually participated in the kitchen redo!

On Saturday those long awaited cabinets were finally installed.  Ken and I both know that without the help of these two amazing young men, Tim and Doug,  it would have been a LONG process!
Our entire family (all 11 of us) spent all day Saturday together while Tim, Doug, and Ken worked on the kitchen.  Now that alone, is an amazing adventure when everything from your kitchen is in your livingroom - stacked on the chairs, in boxes and totes filling the space. Susie and Grace and Gwen, Lia, Ellie, Zeke, Anna and I mostly stayed upstairs in the master bedroom!  It made for a really cozy time.  The kids spent most of the time looking at my scrapbooks and playing with Grace. We also turned on the television - something that we rarely do when we are together.  But desperate times call for desperate measures!   Normally we would have been outside.... but that is the rest of the story of Saturday.  Doug and Tim were a powerhouse team and they got those cabinets in with only a brief stop for lunch.  We had a deadline of 4pm and with just a few minor things left to finish, we have new cabinets!

The reason for the 4pm deadline is that Gwen, Susie, Lia, Ellie, Zeke and I were all running a 5K race (first time for all of us - except Gwen who has run many races) that started at 5pm.  The real killer of the day is that it was 94 degrees - on September 23rd!  And there was an air quality warning making it difficult to breathe - and really nasty to run.  There was an announcement at the start of the race urging everyone to slow down and take it easy, and to drink lots of water.  I was the tail end of the pack.  Lia was the fastest (with Tim running and pushing Anna in a stroller - and Tim ran a Marathon last Sunday in this 90 degree weather), followed by Susie and Ellie, then Zeke and Gwen (who ran with Zeke and Ellie),  and then - finally - me.  I was just very grateful to walk - yes WALK across that finish line.  Somewhere around mile two, I wasn't so sure I would make it.  The cup of ice that I got certainly helped, but it was hard to press on while being passed by so many people.  Even a blind guy passed me!  This picture sort of sums up this blog.  I am hot and tired - but I  finished the race and got that medal!  And notice those lovely bruises and scrapes on my knuckles?  See the paragraph above about the tile scrapping.  

Because of all this house stuff, and this race, I missed a long awaited conference with many wonderful speakers.  I had registered for the event and even reserved a hotel room, long before I knew that this would be the week for kitchen work.  I decided last weekend (after spending three days working on the tile, with more work ahead), that it just didn't make sense to go to the conference.   Sometimes you have to make hard choices.  And it was the right decision.  Having a working kitchen again, after two weeks with no sink, no stove and no cabinets, feels so good tonight. 

Yes, this month has been about pressing on towards a goal (home remodel) and finishing the race.  Even when the process is long and hard and slow and very, very hot.   I can see God's hand in the timing of the race.   I had plenty of time to be with Jesus on that walk (notice I didn't say run).  I was so thankful for our family, who came together and helped us during this process.  I was encouraged, remembering these verses.....

"So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into.  Then we will be able to run life's marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us."  Hebrews 12:1b - The Passion Translation

Jesus reminded me that I can do difficult things.  It is easy to begin thinking that since you are now a "senior citizen" you have lost your strength.   But the joy of the Lord is my strength!  And that is ageless!  I was able to finish the race - and that is what mattered.  Not how fast I finished, but that I finished.  The last mile or so, I was determined to finish!  It felt great to get that medal around my neck.  

Today our home redo project seems much smaller than it did.  I have a confidence that we will finish it and we will finish it well.   It doesn't matter how long it takes, it will get done.  And I feel so blessed, so thankful and so glad to be done with this part of my "Life's Marathon"!

Jesus, thank you for always being with us - no matter where we are.  Whether it is at a large gathering, or on a solitary walk - you are speaking to us.  Holy Spirit, remind us that we can do hard things when we know that Jesus is our strength.  Thank you Jesus for giving us passion and determination to take on all that life throws at us.  Amen 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Life is making decisions

This was certainly one of the highlights of the last couple of weeks for me!  We had all the kids and grandkids over on Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday!   We spent the entire day outside on our back patio.  It was really quite lovely.  We grilled some wonderful smoked pork tenderloin, made by Doug.  The kids had fun and Grace even took a nap! The adults actually got to talk to each other!  It was such a great day.   Here is a bonus picture of Grace with Grandpa....

We were especially thankful for the great weather that day BECAUSE of what has made these past weeks so interesting!  Ken and I have decided to finally bite the bullet and do some very much needed home improvement projects.  And the biggest project (so far) is to replace all of the flooring on the first floor.  This required us (and by us, I mean mostly Ken) to remove several layers of tile from the last 39 years!  What a big mess!  Complicating this process is the fact that we have a very small home and very little room to move things around.  I just have to keep reminding myself that it will be so nice when it is completed!  And since we are redoing the flooring, it makes sense to remove our very nasty kitchen cabinets at the same time and finally have an updated kitchen.

I thought that I was prepared for this project - but I had no idea how many decisions we would have to make!  Picking out the flooring was actually the easiest part.  We had to figure out how to remove the old tile.  How to dispose of all the garbage (a special plug for the Bagster Dumpster - it was simply amazing for us.  After purchasing the bag we decided to set it up inside our garage.  It worked great.  There is no time limit on the disposal so we could take as long as  needed to fill it up.  And just a couple days ago, we dragged it to the curb (with the help of the car) and they picked it up and hauled it away.  We will soon be starting on bag number two!)  Then suddenly we were talking about replacing all of the interior doors in our house.  And changing the doors to the laundry area.  Then it was figuring out if it made sense to replace our cabinets and then finding ones that would fit the space.  Each time we seemed to have things decided, one more thing would come up.

As of right now, we have a concrete floor in half of our downstairs and are close to actually starting to install the new floor.  We are still "in process" of preparing the floor (removing all of the adhesive and cleaning and sealing the concrete) but it finally feels like this new floor will get done! And then it will be on the kitchen cabinets!  Of course we need  a new counter top and back splash.  More decisions.  It would be nice to think that this would be the end of the project, but then it will be on to the other half of our downstairs and then drywall repairs and paint!  Have you noticed just how many colors of paint there are these days?  There is an entire aisle of paint chips to choose from.  My head is spinning just thinking about it.

I was thinking about how many times one decision you make ends up leading to more and more decisions.  You know what I mean - you decide to buy a car but then WHICH car?  And then what options and what color.  Even deciding on a vacation..... when, where - fly or drive.  It just never seems to end.  So many decisions.   If you were to stop and really think about all of the decisions you make in an average day, you would be astounded.  When to get out of bed, what to wear, what to eat, what route to take to work.  You get the idea.  Life is making decisions!

I was thinking about this song I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, by Elevation Worship.  The most important decision anyone can make.  I am personally so thankful for that decision that has changed everything about my life.  After listening to that song, all of the decisions we have to make about our home improvement project, every decision I make during the day - well, they all seem rather small and not nearly worth the worry that I have been putting into them.  It will not really matter, in the long run, what color flooring we use.  Or what cabinets we choose.  All of these are just THINGS.  Things that are here today but could be gone tomorrow.  With the current events - hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes - it is especially good to remember that.  Today I heard the Governor of Florida reminding the people that material things can be replaced.  Stay safe and keep your family safe.  Yes, tomorrow, as Ken and I are making yet another decision for this project, I will remind myself that this really doesn't matter in the long run.  And tonight, because I made that decision to follow Jesus, I will be thanking Him for all that He has provided for me - my family, my home my life.  

Jesus, thank you.  Thank you for your presence with me that brings peace, even during times of tough decisions.  Holy Spirit, continue to draw people into your great love and to know and follow Jesus.  Thank you for a renewed perspective on decision making.  Jesus, please keep all those in the midst of these disasters close to you.  Thank you for your great love.  Amen

Monday, August 28, 2017

Disasters separated by 27 years.....

 Today the news is "flooded" with all the pictures and stories out of Texas and Hurricane Harvey.  Thankfully there has also been plenty of stories of all of the helpers that have volunteered to aid those affected by this natural disaster.  The photos are simply unbelievable.  You just can't imagine 50 plus inches of rain in just one day.  The highways look like rivers!  As I scrolled through the many, many photos, I was praying for those who have lost all their possessions, their homes ......

And then I came across this post....

The 1990 Plainfield tornado was a devastating tornado that occurred on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 28, 1990. The violent tornado killed 29 people and injured 353. It is the only F5 tornado ever recorded in August and the only F5 tornado to strike the Chicago area. There are no known videos or photographs of this heavily rain-wrapped tornado. 

That day, 27 years ago, is one that I will never forget.  This is Doug, just a few weeks after this event.
On that day, I had gotten off of work early to take 8 year old Doug to a doctor appointment.  We had waited a very long time to see this particular specialist to check on Doug's vision.  He had taken so much medicine for his health issues as a baby and young child, there was concern that he may have had eye damage.  I picked Doug up from our neighborhood babysitter's house and we started the drive to the doctor.  He had a 3:30 appointment.  Now this was long before "Smart Phones" and instant weather forcasting...... really there was no way to "check the weather" (which we can now do very easily).  Looking at the sky was the only way to predict that a storm was brewing.

I was immediately worried by the dark and very ugly looking sky - that I was driving directly toward! The route to the clinic was heading right into the storm.  About half way there, the rain started.  And then came the hail.  Before we got much further, all the traffic signals went out, the power went out all around us and I decided to pull over.  I remember very clearly, that Doug calmly pointed out to me that the sky was an unusual shade of green!   This was the worst storm I had ever driven through.

By this time, I knew that we would not be making that doctor appointment.  I waited for a slight break in the blinding rain, turned the car around and headed back home ......thankfully AWAY from the storm.  When I finally reached the clinic on the phone the next day, I was told that they had lost power and part of their roof during that storm.  I felt thankful that Doug's appointment had been at 3:30 rather than 3:00.  We would have been in the middle of that storm.

I think about that day many times as we drive down that main road towards Plainfield.  A large church that was destroyed has been rebuilt, as have the schools that were destroyed.  But each time I look at those new buildings, I see, in my mind, those shells of buildings and trees torn out of the ground and buildings ripped in half,  that we witnessed in the weeks after that terrible tornado.

My home is about 15 miles away from that path of destruction from that tornado.  Thankfully, we had no damage at all from that storm.  As clear as my memory is of that day, I can only imagine the long term impact that Hurricane Harvey will have on the people of Texas.  Even those that might not personally have loss of property.  Everything in their day to day life has been disrupted and it will be chaotic for some time.  

I am so incredibly thankful for the advancements in weather forecasting over the last 27 years!  Thanks to cell phones with satellite mapping and weather radar, nearly every person can figure out if a storm will come near them.  We have instant weather alert apps on our devices that give us warnings that save so many lives.  And, we have more informed people in charge who can order mandatory evacuations when necessary.

Most of all, I am so thankful for the Good Shepherd who never leaves us or forsakes us. In those times of really terrible storms, Jesus is always right there with us.   Additionally, I am thankful for the Holy Spirit - living inside of me - who give me guidance and help in times of trouble.  It was that prompting of the Holy Spirit that kept me from driving into that storm.  

So tonight, as I sit in my dry home, really far away from Texas, my heart is there with those families.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Fire, Police, National Guard and all those involved in keeping the people safe.  I am praying for all those electrical workers, tree cutters, utility workers and many others who are driving in from far away states to aid in the clean up process.   I am praying for all of the humanitarian agencies, churches, and ministries that are sending teams of people to bring water, food, health kits and first aid to so many people.

Tonight, I am so thankful for all of the helpers.........

Jesus, bring your comfort and peace to anyone who is in an uncertain situation tonight - anyone who is fearful or angry or lonely or sad.  Holy Spirit, give wisdom and courage to all of the helpers.  Show them the best way to care for people who are so hurting.  Thank you for your great love for us.  Amen

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Legacy in some old dishes.....

Yesterday I caught an interesting discussion on the radio about the increased amount of dishes and other treasurers being donated to Goodwill.  There has been a 20% increase in the last few years.  The reason seems to be that the current "younger generations" have no use for the sets of "good china" or other items that were once stored in "china hutches".    There were several callers who told stories about discovering that their parents (or grandparents) china sets were worth thousands of dollars! Of course I was reflecting on my own very different situation.

When my mom first moved out of her house into an "independent living" apartment, she got rid of most of her dishes and many of her other "nick nacks".  I remember that she asked me if there was anything that I really wanted.  It was really easy for me to come up with a very short list......
I wanted the tree plate that was at the lake.  I wanted the grape plate that she used on "special occasions" and I wanted 4 of the glass "desert cups" that we always used.  Needless to say, she was shocked by my list.  Shocked because she could not imagine WHY I would want those particular items!
This is the tree plate.  I always asked to use this plate at the lake.  I just loved it.  I found out from my mom (when she gave me the plate) that this was a supermarket give away from Council Oaks Grocery Store sometime in the 1950's.  She couldn't believe that I wanted this old thing.  
This is the grape plate.  My mom couldn't really remember anything about where this even came from.  She never really liked it, but it has sort of raised edge so things stay on the plate when you pass them.  I especially remember deviled eggs being served on this plate.  My mom pointed out that it was kind of chipped and really shouldn't be used anymore.  I still wanted it.  
The last things were these glass dishes.  She laughed at me for wanting these.  They actually were "jelly jars"  - filled with jams and jelly purchased at the grocery store and then cleaned and kept for use.  I remember many, many servings of tapioca pudding from these!  

So yes, these items are still sitting in my china hutch.  And I don't actually use them at all.  But I like knowing that they are there.  The radio conversation got me thinking, however, about the fact that soon enough I will be trying to get rid of all of MY stuff as we begin to downsize.  I do own a set of "good china" but we never used it.  It sits unused in the cabinet.  I do have a few crystal pieces that do get used - on holidays or other family gatherings.  But I am fairly certain that neither of my kids will have any interest in those items.... or the ones that I got from my mom.  Times have really changed, that is for sure.  Alas, I think most of my things will find their way to Goodwill!

It was really nice to take these items out of the hutch and hold them in my hands (to take these pictures)!  Each one of them made me smile.  There is something very powerful about holding an item in your hands, remembering the other hands that once held them.   So unlike those callers on the radio this morning, my dishes have no monetary value.  But the memories and the connections of these items to my mom and dad are very real and so very valuable.   I remember all of the wonderful meals my mom cooked at the lake - in very primitive conditions.   I think about those special holiday dinners when I would see that grape plate on the table covered with some special treat.  And oh the special puddings and deserts those glasses held.  

I am really sorry that I never used these special plates and dishes with my own kids.  They will not have any memories of them and will most likely not want them.  And that makes me sad.  I also am trying to imagine if there is anything that they might want out of my very crowded hutch!  After this past weekend of scrapbooking family events, I am extremely grateful that we have made it a priority to make lots of memories through activities!  And I am also very thankful for all of those scrapbooks!
Even if my dishes and my mom's dishes end up in Goodwill some day, my children and grandchildren will have photographic reminders of many great family times.  It might not be a plate they are holding in their hands, but it will be pictures of  all of us having lots of fun together.  

Yes, the value of legacy is much more than dollars and cents.  There is really no way to put a price on memories.  While my treasured legacy items may not be worth much money, they are filled with memories.  And every page of my scrapbooks are also priceless!  

Take some time to consider what legacy you are leaving.  More than likely the best legacy you can leave does not have much monetary value.  Think about the good times you have had with friends and family.  Remember those special times - maybe just doing nothing but being together.  Look at some pictures - or take some pictures!  Slow down and talk and listen to those you love.   Tell those younger than you about the "good old days".  Create a legacy, one story at a time! 

I love that the Bible is God's legacy to us.  It is a love story filled with events that all connect together.  One story leads to the next story and reveals a wonderful "rescue plan" (as my grandchildren love to call it) in Jesus.  The faithfulness of God is shown to us over and over on each page of the book.  That is a truly priceless legacy!

Jesus, thank you for my family - my mom and dad and siblings and thank you for Ken, and my kids and grandchildren.  Holy Spirit help us to build a lasting legacy for our families, not of things but of stories and memories.  Remind us all to stay grounded in your amazing legacy - the Bible.  Amen