Saturday, January 30, 2010

Safe and sound

My daughter Katie and I have been working on a special little project in honor of my granddaughter Ari's birth. Happy one-month birthday, Ari, and happy parenthood, Dan and Jenny!

I love this song, Safe and Sound, by Matthew West. Thank you, Katie, for your generosity of time and technical know-how. (It might take a minute to load.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

happy 25th, Dan!

Twenty five years ago,
my son Dan entered the world on a cold,
snowy Saturday: January 26, 1985.

Dan soon grew into a spirited little boy. He was ... energetic, adventurous,
often the one to stir up trouble among his siblings, and sometimes had quite the temper.
But his compassionate heart was evident.
Looking through some old photos,
I've decided Dan had a thing for toilets.
And toilet paper. See?

Now Dan is a new father himself.
It's amazing to watch him learning to be a father.
He is calm and patient, having left the temper of his youth in the past.
Dan is a loving and selfless husband to his wife Jenny.
He absolutely adores his baby girl, Ari.
I'll always remember Dan's first text message right after Ari's birth:
"she's so tiny, so cute."
I'm proud of you, Dan. I love you very much and wish you
a very happy birthday!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

passion and purpose

I'm thinking about purpose today, and how my true purpose in life intersects with my dreams. Thinking back to my younger years, I recall a number of dreams for my life: some outlandishly unrealistic and others simply put on hold for "someday."

I realize that childish dreams are giving way to those of greater purpose, of a spiritual nature. And  I wonder: am I too old to pursue a completely new, and as my family might imagine, surprising path for life?

As a teenager, I harbored a completely romantic dream: to live alone in a small bungalow at the beach, supporting myself as an artist. Funny to ponder now. Not that I wanted to live as a hermit all my life, but this pre-marriage, pre-family, naive goal seemed like the ideal way to start life as an adult. Then came college, marriage, the work world, and immersion in twenty-five years of motherhood.

A new dream is now rearing its head. Last fall when I spent several days with my dad during his hospital stay, I marveled at the nurses and other medical staff. They were skilled, efficient, calm and caring. I took copious notes on dad's diagnoses and medications. I imagine caring for sick and hurting people, as well as their families. But then, reality pulls me back: a new career at my age? One that requires years of training? Perhaps such musings are due to my nurturing nature, a by-product of all my years as a mother.

As I write, our friend Rob Dawkins (pictured here), a family physician in North Carolina, is headed to Haiti with a team of medical staff to spend ten days providing medical relief in the wake of the recent horrific earthquake. Rob is responding to a life-long passion. This intrigues and draws me. In fact, the idea of mission work has been on my mind for some time. I picture myself in Haiti, holding a hurting child, praying with a destitute mother, sleeping on a simple cot. I wonder if I could. I wonder if I should. I ask God, why have you given me these thoughts, these tugs on my heart?

I believe without a doubt that God creates each of us for unique purposes. His Word affirms this over and over, and it excites me no end to realize that while my job of rearing children is almost over, I can be certain new tasks lie in my future. How amazing to trust that God's ways will, in the coming years, intersect with my passions. In fact, he's the one who GAVE me the passions in order to fulfill his purpose for my life. Brilliant, if you ask me.

What about you? I'd love to hear about your passions and purpose in life, and how you see them changing.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January ramblings

It's one of those months when my head swirls with a hectic work schedule, while my heart holds the memory of holding my precious new granddaughter during the nights of our visit. Bear with my other ramblings ...

It's so comforting to have a few meals in the freezer.

I miss summer days in Michigan.

Inching closer to February, I'm tiring of winter. Not detesting it ... just weary. Much as I'm ready, there's no use peeking in the flower beds for crocus.

I don't wish for - or not wish for - snow days 'cause there are no kids at home anymore. Odd.

January used to bring monumental stress into my life, due to our family's "birthday season." We still have the birthdays, but without the parties, treat bags, balloons, cupcakes for school, cakes and so forth. I don't miss it. Much.

I'm bursting with pride over learning that a friend of ours, Dr. Rob Dawkins, will soon head to Haiti to lend his heart and medical expertise. Godspeed, Rob.

My dad and stepmom are on my mind and heart. They are in the midst of life changes that require much patience and grace. And I wish I didn't live 450 miles from them.

I miss my granddaughter Ari. We had some mighty fine snuggling during her second week of life.

Hubby and I often eat our dinner IN FRONT OF THE TV WATCHING THE NATIONAL NEWS. I know, that sounds pathetically old-person. But I distinctly remember the night we ceased watching the news many years ago. It was when our oldest son, listening in, asked, "mommy, what's rape?" So now we can catch up on 25 years of not watching the news.

But. I'd skip the news every day ... for one evening snuggling Ari*.

* And if you're puzzled by the name 'Ari,' you absolutely must read this post.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

hope for Haiti

 Haitian people seek refuge at Lifeline's Grand Goave headquarters.

How horrifying are the photos and reports from Haiti, which suffered a 7.0 earthquake last week.

My family has a connection to Haiti: our church, Delaware Christian, supports Lifeline (sending work teams to Haiti several times) and we have sponsored three different children there for several years through Lifeline Christian Mission. We have no idea of Jamesley, Valancia or Manita's condition; we have faith that God and his workers are taking care of these children.

Lifeline Christian Mission is in their 30th year ministering in the desperately poor country of Haiti. Founders Bob and Gretchen DeVoe have worked tirelessly all these years to establish a mission, orphanage and school. They have been God's hands and heart in Haiti (along with many other fine organizations), feeding, educating, supporting and loving thousands of Haitian people.

If you have a desire to help in some way, go to Lifeline's website. There you will find specifics to help meet immediate needs, as well as the ongoing needs that will be required for years to come.

Lifeline is a solid, reputable organization and I am certain - and thankful - they will be a literal lifeline to the people of Haiti.

Friday, January 15, 2010

happy birthday, Bill!

Today my husband Bill has a birthday! Bill is compassionate, a positive thinker, good-hearted, faithful, devoted, fiercely loving of his family, content with simple living, and a hard-working provider for many, many years. He is also a happy new grandfather to little Ari, our precious granddaughter.
Happy birthday, Bill. I love you!
(And here's a question. How does a man ten years older than me still have naturally sandy-colored hair? It's a puzzle.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I got you, babe

I've got you, Ari ...

... so what more could I possibly want?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I met my brand-new granddaughter, Ari, last evening, and by 11:00 p.m.,
we were quite cozy with each other.

I said, "Ari, how about we have some quiet time in your room in this nice rocker?"

And she agreed by finishing some of her mom's milk from a tiny bottle, grunting and settling herself into my arms.

Eleven o'clock.
One o'clock, then 1:30.
The time flew.

My cheek caresses her perfect and warm, fuzzy head. My thoughts zigzag over the memories: sleepless nights of feeding and comforting my own babies. My mother, gone for many years and who longed to be a grandmother ... familiar smells and warmth make this little one seem like one of my own ... but then I realize she is my son's daughter, Ari, and I, her grandmother.

Grandmother. Wasn't I just a first-grader ... packing for college ... or a new mother myself?

My mind settles on the wonder and timelessness of this moment.

My eyes are heavy, yes, but my heart is full of love and thankfulness and peace.

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 8, 1956

At four-thirty sharp Marj Saint eagerly switched on the radio receiver in Shell Mera. This was the moment when the big news would come. Had the men been invited to follow the Aucas to their houses? What further developments would Nate be able to report?

She looked at her watch again. No sound from Palm Beach. She and Olive hunched close to the radio. The atmosphere was not giving any interference. Perhaps Nate's watch had run a little slow.

In Arajuno, Marilou and Barbara had their radio on, too. Silence. They waited a few minutes, then called Shell Mera.

"Aranjuno calling Shell Mera. Arajuno standing by for Shell Mera. Any word from Palm Beach, Marj? Over."

"Shell Mera standing by. No, no word as yet. We'll be standing by."

Not a crackle broke the silence. *

This scene unfolded fifty-four years ago today in the jungles of Ecuador. Five men, spurred by a passion to share the good news of Jesus Christ, ventured deep into the Ecuadorian jungle in an effort to reach an isolated tribe known to attack all strangers: the Aucas.

At an agreed-upon time, their five young wives sat by their radios, waiting for a message that never came* ... for all five men had been savagely speared to death.

Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the murdered martyrs, Jim Elliot, wrote out the story of unconditional love and complete obedience to God in Through Gates of Splendor. It became the best-selling and most powerful missionary story of the 20th century.

It is one of my favorite books, and I cannot believe that my local Christian bookstore gives so little shelf space to Elliot's writings. She is an incredible woman of God, wife, mother, and author.

If you've never picked up Through Gates of Splendor, do it. Read it, read it, read it!

* from Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot.

Elisabeth Elliot today (from

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I've arrived

Hubby and I are planning a date night tomorrow, so I checked the movie listings.

me: "The Blind Side" is playing here in town, so let's go tomorrow, then go to dinner.

him: Sounds good!

me: The matinee is $4, unless you're 55 or over, then it's $4 for all shows.

him: So, the most it'll cost us is $8.

me: No, $10, because I'd be $6 and you'd be $4.

him: No .... you just turned 55, so you'd be $4 too.

me: Oh.

[See, there are perks to being a senior citizen living in a small town!]

thank you

Thank you, friends. I love reading about your grandparents, their nicknames and how they evolved.

It's interesting how different topics elicit more responses from readers.

Grandparents can hold a child's heart for life and be a great and positive influence. I hope I have that privilege!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

and she shall be called...

Goodness, I never dreamed coming up with my grandmother title would be so difficult. In fact, I thought it was the grandchild's job, not mine! But the pressure's on: not only from the new parents, but from friends and family as well.

In four days I'll hold my new granddaughter, Ari, for the first time: my first GRANDCHILD, that is. And if I don't come up with a name soon, we might just never bond.

Pat Snyder, a local columnist, wrote a funny piece on this topic recently. She asserts that according to Maridel Bowes, author of Who Are You Calling Grandma?: True Confessions of a Baby Boomer's Passage, the term "Grandma" is considered passe among baby boomers. Ack. I certainly don't want to be uncool. I mean, I'm still wearing jeans and tennis shoes and riding a bike!

My own grandmothers had odd nicknames: My dad's mom was Memaw (which rhymes with seesaw, and my sister and I used to perform a silly gymnastic feat using these words. No, thanks.) And we called my maternal grandmother by her real name, Dorothy. I don't know how it ever started and she detested it. She was a fabulous grandma nonetheless.

The name "Baba" occurred to me: this is what our first-born called me when he heard Bill call me Barbara. When I researched Googled 'Baba,' I discovered it does indeed mean 'grandmother' in Serbian. So why not?

Then (can you believe this?) I came across a quiz to determine a fitting grandmother name ... here are the results:

You are a modern, active, no-nonsense grandmother. Your children may get frustrated that you're not often home to babysit, but your grandchildren will appreciate your energy and enthusiasm. They may not appreciate it when you beat them at tennis. You love sports (what??), either as a spectator or as a participant, or even both. People say that you don't look like a grandmother. Nan, Gran, Grandmom, Nina or Mema suit your grandmothering style.

Ari's other grandma is well settled with her name, Grammy, since this is her third grandchild. It'll be a relief when the subsequent grandkids arrive and I'll already be named. Honestly, I don't care what I'm called, as the saying goes: just so they call me, hug and kiss me.

So, what do you think? If you have a good and (note to my sons) appropriate grandma nickname for me to consider, please get it to me quick. Within four days!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lighthouse 2010

Over 100 college students rang in the new year by packing off to seven countries around the world. They comprise the Lighthouse '10 teams of Taylor University. At least four of my daughter Katie's friends are on these teams, recently arrived in places such as India and Ecuador.

While their classmates are back on the frigid Upland, Indiana campus for "J-term" (a 3-week January term), the Lighthouse teams are encountering other cultures and serving as God's hands and feet.

Our sons David and Dan also joined Lighthouse teams in past years. David's Thailand trip took him all over the country, and a highlight was working in a mission school in northern Thailand. His homestay with a local family was ... interesting.

Dan's trip to Poland coincided with a record-cold January as the team ministered to young people and paid an emotional visit to Auschwitz.

It's inspiring to me to see college students travel and serve others. Click on the link above and follow their progress!

Friday, January 1, 2010

a son becomes a father

A mighty love.
A son becomes a father,
protector of his new daughter, Ari.
That's about all I can say about this image,
captured this morning.
Thanks, God.

welcome new year, new decade, new granddaughter!

It's 3:55 a.m. in a brand-new decade: January 1, 2010. She's here! Baby girl Haller got to the New Year's Eve party a little late! Born to Jenny and Dan Haller at 3:05 a.m. 6 lbs, 15 oz, 20 inches long. "So cute!" her dad texted.

And now for a little sleep. I pray my beautiful new granddaughter and her parents can get a little sleep, too!