Ties that bind…or strangle.

IMG_20150103_172451138Several years ago, I read a study synopsis from a well respected site indicating that the most influential power in a child’s life was his parents. (Golly-gee-whiz, I wonder how many man-hours and tax dollars went into that one.)  Of course, ask any of the teachers in my middle school, and they could have told you that.  Better yet, I have a Book that pretty well spells it out from years of experience and Wisdom. 

Needless to say, there are some forces in the Universe that are inherently powerful, for good or evil, and parenthood is certainly at the top of that list.  It’s not that parents can take credit for all the choice their kids make (positive or negative), but their influence is still credibly incredible in some capacity throughout a person’s life. 

So it takes some real courage when a child, even an adult “child”, has to back up and re-evaluate patterns of thinking and doing that Continue reading “Ties that bind…or strangle.”

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Casting call: princesses and mermaids

IMG_20150103_172451138The most-darling-three-year-old-in-the-Universe, (my oldest granddaughter) is R-E-A-L-L-Y into princess stuff.  Like, it’s a struggle for her mom to get her to change out of one of her (many) princess outfits if they need to go public somewhere, like to the grocery store.

Graciemermaid (1)Of course, then she got a mermaid bathing suit, and it’s been rough getting her out of that one, as in this recent chat with her mom:

“Don’t ever make proclamations about how you’ll parent or what your child/ren will do.  That’s how you end up in a suburban bank with a 3-year-old mermaid perched on your hip.”

Ah, parenting…

But, along with Pooh Bear, mermaids, and tea parties, the princess things still rank pretty high on her radar for now.  And as with all things (grand)parenting, it give us great pleasure to follow those interests with her.  What will develop next? Continue reading “Casting call: princesses and mermaids”

Teach your (siblings’) children well

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280If you really want to get back at your older siblings for all those mean things they did to you as kids growing up, what one thing should you teach their own pre-school children?  No, it’s not where daddy keeps his favorite fishing tackle, or how pretty mommy’s new lipstick looks on the freshly painted patio deck, or even how to safely use a blow torch, as fun as all that would be.  The grueling, tortuous payback is much easier than that…

Simply teach their little cherubs the word “Why?”

And then encourage them to use it, frequently.  Which is not so far-fetched when you consider that we humans are a naturally inquisitive lot to begin with anyway.  Why, what for, how come, and the other various derivatives are simply part of our internal vernacular, both positively, from our curiosity, (giving us, for example, “E=mc2”) and negatively, from our wounded sense of inconvenience, (“how come I have to study this stoopid stupid geometry?!”)

Either way, we keep asking. 

In this instance, God anticipated our “why”.  (He did, after all, make us this way.)  The Hebrew people all but have their toes on the boarder of the Promised Land as God is using Moses for a few preliminary instructions:

 “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the LORD our God has commanded us to obey?’”

Not that the Creator needs to explain to the created, so the fact that He anticipates their inquiry shows gracious condescension.  He reminds them that they were brought out of their brutal slavery in Egypt so that God could bless them with an abundant goodness (which was already prepared for them, BTW).  Then we read this, which is in the same paragraph, as in almost the same breath—

“For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the LORD our God has given us.’”

Am I hearing this right?  God’s saying, “I pulled you out of a very bad place and I’m putting you in a very good place.  Here’s the stuff you need to do to maintain that, and thus I will consider you as in right standing with Me.”

In other words, being counted as righteous is NOT the same as intrinsic righteousness.  Nope, that issue was decided a L-O-N-G time ago.  I find it interesting, then, when our culture tries to damn the very God Who attempted every which way to communicate and connect with the people who rejected Him to begin with; as if we expect Him to change Himself to fit our image instead of the other way around.

Oh wait…He did that too, only not in the way we expected.  (He does that a lot.)

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.”

Of course, that was the plan all along, which makes that plan even more beautiful.  And so now instead of being counted as righteous because of the things I do (which never worked anyway—the first half of the Book bears testament to that arrangement, again, no surprise to the Author), I am counted as righteous because of what Jesus has done for me. 

If you’ve never seen it, great, here it is.  If you haven’t seen it recently, let’s marvel in a super review:

“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”

Back to the original question, why?  Only one answer suffices:

Deuteronomy 6: 20, 25; John 1:14; Romans 3: 21-26  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Pass the kid

gracievaca4
Bob is smitten.

Sitting in in the cool morning air of a quiet Pacific Northwest morning, I hear a light tapping on the inside sliding glass door and turn to see our 6-month old granddaughter peering out to say good morning.  That is to say, I think it’s my sleepy, blurry-eyed daughter tapping on the door hoping grandma is up for a morning snuggle session so mommy can go back for a brief morning nap.

Well, DUH.  Pass the kid this way, puh-LEZE.

My daughter’s typical comment is, “Mom, I’m sorry to interrupt your quiet morning moment, but…”

Or then there are the times in the car, “Mom, I’m sorry for all the crying and screaming…”

Or, “Mom, sorry if you have to clean out the car seat, (or your jeans, or your shirt…etc.)”

Or…. Continue reading “Pass the kid”

Call your folks

wood 2There’s a story in the book of Joshua where God holds back the sun so the Hebrews could have more time to fight on and subdue their enemies. 

More time.  Man, I wish.  Of course, most of us would just blow it.  But somewhere in our collective psyche where “deep calls unto deep” is that gnawing feeling that time is something we can’t grasp or control.  A cursory glimpse at even modern entertainment is informative—sci-fi time travel flicks abound, even the humor of “Ground Hog’s Day” maybe-I-can-get-it-right-this-time wistful thinking is not far below the surface for most of us. 

So somewhere thousands of feet over Midwest farmlands, I was in a jet heading home from seeing my parents for a few days at their retirement village.  Dad was recovering from a knee problem across the street from where mom was preparing for their new digs in the apartment complex. 

After sharing my dad’s breakfast table with a 93-year-old WW2 veteran, after hearing of one of their friends who skipped her chemo so she could go hiking in Colorado (“just give me a little extra medicine this time, will ya?”), and after meeting some of the other indomitable souls in their neighborhood, it kind of makes me think twice before complaining about…anything. 

We went to church together that Pentecost Sunday morning huddled around his computer at the foot of his hospital bed watching the live-stream from their Methodist Church with mom and one of their neighbors (a retired world-traveled physician who can now only see peripherally due to a degenerative eye problem—but walks everywhere anyway.)  I’m kicking myself for not providing some grape juice and flat bread for communion.  (“The good Lord knows our hearts, honey.”)

One of my parents’ good friends from W-A-Y back, (meaning my teenage years, okay, no wise-cracks necessary), is now in his 90’s and just returned home to the same complex from visiting family from the west coast.  I am informed he is of the polar-opposite political party than my father, which in this day and age could mean, well, we all know the vitriol that implies.  Evidently, they are both “old school”, which means that they can discuss politics without interference in their relationship. 

Would that we had such maturity these days.

Dad’s the one who taught me to “ask for the moon” but won’t ask for a bag of ice when he bumps his bad ankle on the wheelchair.  When I mention a plan to call for something, it’s “oh, no, don’t bother them…”  So I have dubbed myself “the wicked witch of the West” and I can imagine the nurses in report saying, “she called again.” (One of my main consolations is all the heavy lifting my local siblings do when it needs to be done.  This long distance thing STINKS.)

Dad says that as the light streams through his window in the morning, he gives thanks to the Lord for another day of life.  My folks have a perspective that my culture has largely lost, or missed altogether—gratitude.  Fortitude.  Resilience. 

Gray hair is a crown of glory;
    it is gained by living a godly life.

Now, let’s see, who shall the witch bother today?  

(Call your folks!)

Proverbs 16:31 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

What a Mother’s Day gift!!!

If at first…

garden lastI’m writing this in the early weeks of autumn as the leaves are beginning to succumb to gravity and the thermometer is gratefully beginning its slow decline from the ravages of an early hot, dry summer.  I’ve cleaned out my garden plots, pruning back a tomato tree; I’ve never seen one get that big and bushy and likewise produce so little fruit (there’s another analogy there, I suppose), and the zinnias basically cut off the sun from the struggling lavender.  Evidently, I was not aware of the potential within the plants, the effect of such good dirt, and the needs of the individual varieties.  So I’ll try it all again when this old planet limps back around the sun once more this Spring. 

I’ve decided that gardening is not only a science, but an art.  Unfortunately, I’m not much of either, except like Edison, in that if it doesn’t work the first 999 times, persistence might make the 1000th be the winner.  

I am, at the very least, persistent. 

Relationships, I’ve decided, are also both a science and an art as well.  We have three children.  We had them early in our marriage, and I was young.  I didn’t really even know myself very well, and here I was mothering three little girls, all with different personalities, talents, and destinies!  Are you kidding me??

As they were approaching that wonderful American invention called “adolescence”, Bob and I did a Gary Smalley personality survey on ourselves and our kiddos. 

Our eldest is a Golden Retriever—let’s take care of everybody and make them feel loved.

Our middle is more of a Beaver, organizing, accomplishing, business-minded. 

Our youngest (sigh) is a full scale Lion….the kind with teeth and claws.  This is not a bad thing, and I sigh only in part because her mother is an Otter.  An a fun-loving, fly-the-seat-of-your-pants Otter.  An Otter raising a Lion. 

Yet another proof that God has a sense of humor.

I love this passage from Isaiah and leave it here for an encouragement to young mothers:

“The farmer knows just what to do,
    for God has given him understanding.
A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin;
    rather, it is beaten with a light stick.
A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin;
    instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
Grain for bread is easily crushed,
    so he doesn’t keep on pounding it.
He threshes it under the wheels of a cart,
    but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher,
    and he gives the farmer great wisdom.”

And just as there is no cookie-cutter approach to child-raising, God does not use the same approaches with us, His children, either.  How boring would that be??  What He is, is persistent.

So Edison and I are good company.

Isaiah 28:26-29  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Blessing of blooming late!

garden last

Whee!! It’s cooling off!  Of course, I’m writing this in early October, so by the time it gets posted, we might be in the middle of a blizzard.  But for now, I walk out to my patio with my pot of steaming hot tea in the morning to find leaves on my table, and fewer and fewer mosquitoes. 

I love my Midwest autumn.

The flip side is that my gardens are getting less abundant (which, this year, is a relative term, unfortunately), and the flowers are getting ready to bed down for the winter.  But look what I found!!~~

flower

Now that’s a late-bloomer if ever there was one!   What untimely but welcomed color!  Elegance in the midst of common, new in the midst Continue reading “Blessing of blooming late!”

Little Girls, Little Churls, I mean Curls

IMG_20150103_172451138When the kids were younger, I enjoyed having Christmas caroling parties for them.  We’d make tree ornaments, strung popcorn, went out caroling in the neighborhood, and generally made a fun mess in preparation for the holiday.  (Sometimes, the mess persisted well beyond the holiday, you know, kind of like the pine needles…)

One such party left an ache in this mom’s heart.  Our youngest had become the brunt of “girl drama” and had for some reason been “shunned” by the friends she had invited, save one (bless her awesome heart).  You may imagine my Continue reading “Little Girls, Little Churls, I mean Curls”