Sunday, February 26, 2017

A small chair through the years.....a legacy

Here is Anna, sitting in MY ROCKING CHAIR!  That little rocking chair has been around a LONG, LONG, time!  Like 58 years!  Here I am, sitting in this chair when it was brand new!  Notice that music box on the bottom of the chair?  Well, Gwen told me that Tim actually fixed that music box and got it to work today.  So Anna is rocking to the same music that I did, oh so long ago.
I remember being so glad that my mom and dad made it a point to hang on to this chair for me.  That meant that it got moved several times when I was actually too old to use it.  When Ken and I moved into this house and my parents were getting ready to retire and move away, this chair made its way to our attic.  I remember when I first brought it out for Gwen...

Here is Gwen in that same chair, at just about Anna's age. I have pictures of Doug sitting in the chair also.   And we have pictures of Lia, Ellie, and Zeke in that same chair.

There is something about that chair. It is not an "heirloom" in the traditional sense of the word.  The chair has no monetary value.  It was not an expensive chair to begin with.  But in so many ways, it represents something much bigger and more important and more valuable than dollars and cents.  It is a tie between generations - a physical piece of my past having an impact on the future.  A small legacy.

Yesterday Ken and I took Ellie out for a birthday breakfast - just the three of us.  It is a very rare thing to  spend time with just one of the kids.
We had a wonderful time.  Ellie got to choose the place, what she ate and it was all about her.  As we were talking, I was thinking about just how important this event really was.  This time to focus on her and tell her just how special and how loved she is, was really the best birthday gift we could give her. Of course there were birthday gifts that followed our breakfast, as well as special birthday cookies from her favorite bakery.  But the time together - well that was priceless.  

So as I looked at that picture today of Anna and my chair, and thought about this special time yesterday with Ellie, I am so thankful that my legacy for my generations is more than that little rocking chair.  It is all of the time I get to spend with these precious little ones.  Time to hug them tight and tell them I love them.  Time to laugh with them and hear them talk about what is important in their life.  It is being able to text and facetime with them.  It is time to pray with them.  Time to sow into their spirits.  

So there it is.  The most important things are often not THINGS but actually intangibles - your time, your touch, your prayers.   What a great reminder.  I am so thankful for this season of my life.  When I have the time and the ability to be with my children and my grandchildren.  After thinking about this, I will be more intentional about being present with them - really present.  Not just physically there - but really aware of the moments.  When you consider the importance of this, it is not just for our families - it is for everyone that we come in contact with each day.  

Each of us has the chance to change the future by what we do in the present.  We can spend time being with others - smiling, listening, holding a hand or giving a hug.  We can pray for those around us.  All we need to do is see ourselves as farmers.  Sowing seeds into the world, leaving a bit of ourselves as we do, creating an amazing legacy for future generations.  

Jesus, thank you for using a little chair to teach me an important lesson.  Holy Spirit, continue to give us all those gentle reminders when we try to replace time with others with things.  Help us to appreciate the physical things that tie one generation to the next,.Give us wisdom to create a spiritual legacy for our generations.  Amen

Thursday, February 23, 2017

When you hear something in a song that you have never heard before....

Yesterday I spent another wonderful day with Grace and Susie!  At three weeks old, Grace is doing simply amazing.  She is alert and most of all, peaceful and calm.  She basically just sleeps, eats and looks around - which is what most babies do at three weeks!  But she rarely cries, which is a bit unusual.  I am loving all the time I get to spend with her!  Yep, just love this grandma time!
On the way home last night, I heard the same song on the radio twice!  That is really odd!  The first time it played, I was in tears.  This was a song that so touched me after Lucas died.  So, I was thinking about the very short, precious time we had with Lucas.   Here is a picture of Lucas taken when I was holding him....
After the song finished, the station played another song.  And then, somehow, that first song came on again!  The song is Tell Your Heart To Beat Again, by Danny Gokey.  Now I have heard this song so many times.  I can assure you that I have cried my way through it, every time it plays.  But last night, when the song came on a second time.... well it got my attention.  And then I found myself REALLY listening.  There it was.... exactly what I needed to hear.  And it had been there all the time, right in the chorus. 

Tell your heart to beat again
close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Step into the light of Grace!  It was as if that line had been placed there, just for me.  Just for our family.  It was a very clear message.  GRACE!  Our sweet Grace!  And we are taking that step into the light.  Lucas is always with us.  But the shadows of grief and pain are falling away, as we step into this time with Grace.  I am so amazed at the wonder of knowing that God has a hand in not only knowing our names before we are born, but at the "God-incident" that caused this song to play twice in a ten minute time span - just to get my attention.  

Isn't our wonderful, caring Jesus just amazing?  Hearing exactly the right song at the right time.  And using something like the lyrics in a song to touch and reach and heal and remind me that He has everything under control.  Today I mentioned this to Susie and we got to talking about Grace's name.  Susie said that the minute she looked at her after she was born, she KNEW that her name was Grace.  I can't imagine her with any other name.  

During the last two years after Lucas' death, it was hard to imagine a time when the shadows were falling away.  I am sure that many of you can understand this.  Those times of deep despair and depression.  Times when things seem so dark and (as the song says....) shattered in a thousand pieces on the floor. It is hard to even consider what is ahead in the future.  I know.  I've been there.
But then.... as the song says.

Just let that word wash over you
It's alright now
Love's healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
'Cause your story's far from over
And your journey's just begun.

There is one final verse.... It is a reminder that every scar is a picture of WHO has carried us this far. It is the loving hands of Jesus that can pull us through those dark times.  Yes, I am so thankful for the reminder that my families story is far from over.  Grace's journey has just begun.  

Jesus, thank you for speaking to me in a song, again.  Holy Spirit, help us all to feel those loving, healing hands of Jesus during those dark and shattered times.  Give us courage and boldness to get up and take that step, knowing that Jesus is in control.  Thank you for blessing our family with this new life.  Amen

Sunday, February 19, 2017

When one little thing makes big trouble...

It has been an interesting week in our house.  I was excited to spend time with Susie and Grace when Doug went back to work.  Wednesday was a great day. I had so much fun with Grace (and Susie).

 I was looking forward to spending Thursday with them.  Gwen and the kids were also visiting on that day.   But, alas, it was not to be.

On Wednesday morning Ken started a new medication.  We had labored long and hard to get this medicine since it was a fight with the insurance company.  And the only reason that Ken had even changed to this new medicine was because the insurance company would no longer pay for a different medicine that he had been taking for 4 months.  That old medicine was working really well for Ken.  His numbers were improved and he felt great.  But then Wednesday came......
He took one pill of that new medicine on Wednesday morning.  By 7:30pm on Wednesday, he was not feeling right.  And just a short time later, he got very, very sick.  At first we thought, well, he might just have a stomach virus.  But as the hours progressed, it became clear that he was having a reaction to this drug.  Needless to say, I did not go to Susie's to spend time with Grace!  I sure didn't want to expose her to anything - just in case!  In searching for information on this drug, we found that the exact symptoms that Ken had could be a reaction to this medicine.  Just to be on the safe side, Ken visited the doctors on Friday and all of his tests were normal.  But, boy did that one little pill make some big trouble! It was so good to see Ken returned to normal yesterday.  He got to participate in a long awaited photography conference and the weather was spectacular!  At one point it was 72 degrees (according to my car) on February 18!  And today is just as wonderful.

Yes, one small thing can cause lots of trouble.  But I love the reminder that even something little and seemingly insignificant can have a big effect.  All through out the Bible we see reminders that God uses small things to solve big problems.  He used a little boy named David with a very small weapon, to slay a very big giant who was against God's people.  David was just a small shepherd boy at that time.  God used the boy king Josiah at eight years old, to bring his people back to God by restoring the law.  Most of the disciples were just regular, ordinary men - not people of influence - until they met Jesus.  And through those first disciples the entire world learned about Jesus.  Not because of who they were, but because of who Jesus is!

One of my very favorite Bible stories is the widow's mite, found in Mark 12:41-44.  I clearly remember hearing this story in Sunday School and marking it in my first Bible.  The message I heard that day was that God would use even a very little amount, when it was given to Him.

I love this from Zechariah 4:10 NLT -  "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin."  

 It doesn't matter if you are really young, very poor or unknown.  With Jesus, anything is possible! So this is my encouragement to you today.  If you have an idea, go for it!  Feel like there is something that you are supposed to create, build or discover?  Take that first step.  Is there some issue that is really bothering you, but you don't think you can really make a difference.... well just try!  You will never know what you can accomplish unless you go for it.  I know that I am speaking this message to myself also!  Imagine the things that could happen if we all didn't keep listening to the excuses in our head, telling us why we can't succeed.

Yes, your one little thing (idea, thought, invention, book, message, issue) could make some big trouble with Jesus on your side!  And that would be a very good thing for Jesus and the world!  Let's be trouble makers!

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that you make small things very BIG just as you make all those BIG things very small.  Thank you for taking away the BIG mountains of problems from before us. Holy Spirit, give us courage and boldness to take that first step and quiet the voice of the enemy that would keep us from believing in ourselves and knowing that when we are weak and small, you are strong!  Thank you Jesus for using us.  Amen

Monday, February 13, 2017

When each day is worth celebrating!

Saturday we got to spend the day at Doug and Susie's house with Gwen and Tim and the kids.  Of course baby Grace was the highlight of the day.  It is so much fun to watch the kids experience their new cousin, up close and personal.  Lia, at almost 11, is quite good at handling the baby.  She is always anxious for a turn to hold that baby.  Ellie's fascination with everything about Grace is so interesting to watch.  She spent some time just looking at Grace's tiny fingernails.  I am sure that Ellie was imagining painting them at some point in the future!  This picture about sums up Zeke and Grace.  I was saying that Zeke looks positively angelic while holding Grace!  He would sit like this for a very long time (if there weren't many, many other people waiting for a turn to hold Grace).  And then there is Anna.  Well, Anna doesn't quite know what to make of this new baby in our family.  She is very used to being the littlest.  She really doesn't like it when Gwen holds Grace and she makes it very clear that she is not really ready to be anywhere near her.  Pretty typical for a three year old!

There was something so special and so bitter sweet about having our grandchildren together with us.  In this picture, Ellie is holding Lucas Bear, who wears a shirt that says "I'm gonna be a big brother".  No matter what the occasion or event, we will always be missing Lucas.

And today I was reflecting on just how perfect the name Grace is!  I was a bit surprised when this name showed up as a possible contender, before she was  born!  I love this name and never thought that I would see it used in our family.  Grace is such an amazing thing.  It can mean......

*Unmerited divine assistance given humans
*a special favor
*disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
*a pleasing appearance or effect
*the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful
*a short prayer at a meal asking a blessing or giving thanks.

Yes, Grace is our "rainbow baby".  A rainbow baby is one that joins a family after the loss of a child.  Looking at the possible definitions of grace, I believe that she is named exactly right!  She does represent God's special favor to our family.  She certainly has a pleasing appearance.  So far she has been a calm and peaceful baby.  And we are certainly seeking God's blessings and giving thanks for her!  She fits this all so well!

Today I heard an older song "Your Grace Finds Me" by Matt Redman.  

I was struck by the very first line of the song.... "It's there in the newborn cry".  The entire song spoke to me.  Yes, I believe that our precious little Grace was born for such a time as this.  Our world needs more grace.  Just as the song says, it is for the entire world.  

There is a plan and destiny for Grace.  She will have an impact on all those around her.  She was born because of the great grace of Jesus.  I can't wait to watch as the love and grace and mercy of Jesus is spread around by our sweet Grace.  And just for good measure, here is a picture of Grace.

I believe that we can all get a new perspective on our world, just by listening to this song.  I encourage you to spend the five minutes it takes and stop and listen.  I certainly needed this reminder today and I know that many of you also need this.

Jesus, thank you for the reminder of your great grace.  What a wonderful and perfect gift you have given to our family in sweet Grace.  Holy Spirit, help us all to remember that God's grace is for the entire world.  Give us your perspective on those around us.  Amen

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

It's just a matter of opinion!

The weather on Monday was downright pleasant.  The sun was shining (yes, that is still possible here, even though we broke some kind of record for the most cloudy days in a row).  It was in the high 40's and just seemed like a really good day to get the kids out of the house!  At least I thought it was a good idea.  Now the four kids were pretty split about going outside.  The younger two were all for it, but the older two - well, not so much.  At any rate, I really didn't give them a choice.  I needed some fresh air, so we were going outside!  These two pictures pretty much sum up the great divide on this going outside thing.....
Anna came to me wearing her frozen rain boots, her Peppa Pig rain coat and a sun hat.  Zeke didn't even want to wear a coat.  I insisted that he at least wear a sweatshirt.  Ellie came with her rain boots and winter coat, along with a winter hat and ear muffs.  Lia went full on winter - winter boots, snow pants, winter coat, winter hat, ear muffs and gloves!  Remember I said that it was almost 50 degrees?

Yes, it was clear that it was just a matter of opinion as to how cold it actually was outside!  I was thinking about this today while paging through my Facebook feed.  So much of everything these days seems to be just a matter of opinion.  The issue that one person is so upset about has someone else jumping for joy.  And just like these clothing choices by the kids, sometimes it doesn't make much sense!  The kids somehow represented all four seasons when they were actually experiencing the exact same weather.  If I were going to be really legalistic, I would have to say that Lia was dressed for the season.  It was February 6th after all.  I guess that Ellie might have been dressed for this "in between" weather we had that was unseasonably warm.  Anna was just wearing her most favorite items with no regard what so ever for the actual weather report.  And Zeke, well, he is just a warm boy that is often covered in sweat, no matter what the weather.  So he dressed for what makes him comfortable.  

So I have decided that I will take this approach when reading through Facebook.  I will remember that some people just like to be "in season".  No matter what the actual temperature is.  And I will appreciate those people that are a bit more sensitive to what is going on around them.  I will celebrate with those people that are just happy and having a wonderful time, without any regard to what is happening around them.  And mostly I will appreciate those people that really know their own situations well, and behave accordingly.  Don't you think this is a good approach?  

Yes, I learn so many things from my grandchildren.  They truly are a blessing from the Lord - often in unexpected ways!  I love this photo of Anna.  Can't you just see the joy on her face!  She was loving swinging!
Thanks to these four wonderful kids, I will be much calmer looking through my Facebook.  As a matter of fact, I might even find myself laughing as I mentally put different posts into each of these categories.  And laughter makes the heart glad!  I love these verse from Psalm 126....

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy, then it was said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them.

And just for good measure... that same verse from The Passion Translation....

We laughed and laughed, and overflowed with gladness!  We were left shouting for joy, and singing your praise.  All the nations saw it and joined in saying, "The Lord has done great miracles for them!"  

Yes, my family is filled with joy and we are overflowing with gladness with the birth of Grace.  And This reminder is a good one for all of us.  Our world is filled with so much controversy right now. There is strife and fighting at every turn.  We all need some laughter and joy in our life right now.  And if it means thinking about my four little sweeties and their clothing choices, well, so be it!  
Have a really good laugh on me today!  

Jesus, we all have a very good reason for joy.  Your great sacrifice on the cross for us cause for laughter.  Help us remember to see every situation through your eyes. Holy Spirit give us a joyful heart and a peaceful spirit.  Amen  

Friday, February 3, 2017

Joy and more joy!

Meet Grace Rae Rowley!  This sweet bundle of joy, daughter of Doug and Susie, was born on February 1, 2017.  Our family has been so looking forward to meeting this precious little girl.  I am honored to say that her middle name is also my middle name!  Interestingly enough, Susie's mom's middle name is also Rae!  So Susie had told me quite some time ago, that if they ever had a girl, her middle name would be Rae. I have to confess that it felt a bit like I had been holding my breath until I held her in my arms.  It is a very different thing to welcome a new baby into your family, after going through the loss of their sibling.  Each one of us marveled at how much Grace looks like Lucas.  She has a bit darker hair and her eyes may be a bit different, but there is no mistaking that she resembles her big brother in heaven.
I love this picture!  Ken's profile picture on Facebook is a very similar picture of Doug and Lucas and Ken.  Needless to say,  Lucas was very much on our minds and hearts during this very special event.  
Susie and Grace are both doing really well after the birth, and are now resting at home.  Well, resting as much as you can with a newborn!  

When it was clear that Grace would be born on February 1st, all I could think about was my sister Karen.  Grace's birthday would have been my sister Karen's 79th birthday.   I thought it was especially interesting that my brother-in-law Roy happened to post this picture of Karen holding her newborn granddaughter in honor of her birthday.  
There are always those times when you especially miss family members who are no longer alive.  And this was certainly one of those times for me.  Karen died in 2007, but I was remembering a conversation I had with her right after my first grandchild was born in 2006.  We were talking about being grandmas.  She told me, "Hold them tight and give them lots of love!  And then give them back to their parents!"  I remember we laughed about this!  It stuck with me though, since her advice to me right after Gwen was born had been something very meaningful to me as I raised my kids.  She had said "Really there is only one piece of advice that matters......don't sweat the small stuff".  I couldn't count the number of times that I would remember Karen's words to me when I was in the depths of child rearing.  And I can tell you that it was really great advice!  And her advice about grandchildren was just as good.    Karen was quite a bit older than me and we never had much time together growing up.  But I am so thankful for these very special words that she shared with me, that had a great impact on my life.  Grace shares a birthday with a really special member of our family.  And it will be my great honor and joy to tell Grace all about her great aunt Karen when she is older.  

Our family has some special shared birthdays.  Doug and Ellie (Gwen's second daughter) share a birthday.  Zeke (Gwen's son) and my mom share a birthday.  And now Grace and Karen share a birthday.  Our family is connected from one generation to the next and reminders like shared birthdays keep those connections in sight.  Blessings carried on through the ages.

That picture of Grace above, was taken as she was nestled in my arms.  I has holding on tight.  I was loving her and taking in that amazing sweet face, smelling that wonderful newborn baby smell.  And I was thanking Jesus for this addition to our family.  After a few minutes, she started to fuss a bit and just as Karen had advised me, I handed her back to her parents!  It was a wonderful feeling!

Jesus, thank you for Grace and your plans for her life.  Thank you for your plan for families that bind us to our past and future generations.  Holy Spirit, help us to see the blessings of our ancestors and to sow seeds for the future.   Thank you for joy and more joy!  Amen