Saturday, March 29, 2014

the night I became a grandmother

Excuse my absence ... all month and especially this week. I was soooo sick all week! Yeah, I brag on rarely getting sick and wham-o, a nasty virus hit.
It was bad, bad .... but thankfully I'm going to live,
and I read most of a wonderful book I've had sitting here. More on that sometime.
Anyway, off topic.
So cliché, but how quickly time passes.
I was thinking this week how my oldest grandchild is going on 4 and a half.
And thinking of the night I became a grandmother. It wasn't the night she was born,
new year's day 2010, it was when Ari and I met ten days later.
Taken from my blog ...
Newborn Ari
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?"

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.
At 2:30 I still held her.
The time flew.

My cheek caressed her perfect and warm, fuzzy head.
My thoughts reached over the years to sleepless nights of feeding and
 comforting my own four babies. 
I remembered my tears, rocking my babes in the wicker rocker my mother had used. Familiar smells and baby-warmth made this little one seem like one of my own ...
but then I realized she is my son's daughter, Ari, and I, her grandmother.

Grandmother? It doesn't seem possible.
But that night, as Ari made me a grandmother, was the holiest of moments.
My mind settled on the wonder and timelessness of it.

My eyes were heavy, yes, but my heart was full of love and thankfulness and peace.

Four-year-old Ari
Since that night in January 2010, God has given us four more grandchildren, an overwhelming, beautiful armload. And each of them teaches me so much
and to treasure being a grandmother.
They challenge me to fill our moments with love, silliness, and wonder. 
And to point them to their heavenly father.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Ari with Baba

Saturday, March 22, 2014

fight like a girl!

It was mild this morning when I let the dog out at 7:15, about 40 degrees. There was sun and little wind: a perfect day for my first 5K! But things changed drastically by race time at 9 o'clock. Gray clouds moved in and a cold March wind blew. How well we Ohioans know those cold March winds.
I had Bill drop me off at Delaware's YMCA to join more than 300 other runners and walkers. We set off at 9 o'clock, circling the soccer field and heading up Houk Road for about a mile, then back again to complete the 5K route. I walked with Kim and Chris from church and we had a good chat. We kept a brisk pace and finished in under 54 minutes.
I hesitated to sign up for the race: I'd been nervous I couldn't finish, even though I love to walk. But this race was a benefit for Ashleigh and she kept coming to mind: Ashleigh Hunt, the indomitable young woman from our church diagnosed with osteosarcoma last August. Ashleigh is 20 years old with her whole life in front of her, once she beats this horrible disease. I am nearly 40 years older and enjoying good health. What's an hour of walking in a cold wind and wanting a nap this afternoon compared to Ashleigh's battle with bone cancer?
She's undergoing a brutal chemo regimen, had surgery to remove a tumor from her leg, lost her beautiful dark hair and made countless trips to Children's Hospital in Columbus. At the time of her diagnosis, Ashleigh reminded us that her God is so much bigger than this cancer. What an inspiration, what faith exhibited in this young woman. 
And so I walked, along with over 300 others. For Ashleigh. We're all praying for you, young lady. Fight like a girl!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

the reading life

While I might not have been reading before starting school, my mother was a co-conspirator in my eagerness to learn. A January birthday, coupled with no public kindergarten where we lived meant I didn't start school until I was going on 7 years old. A home-schooler at heart if ever there was one, Mom taught me to write my name so I could obtain my own library card. Fostering a love of reading is, perhaps, one of the best gifts a parent give. And how my mother loved reading.

Over the past year I was an absolute slouch in my reading. My reading log makes it plain: just five books read in 2013. I read eight in 2012, including the Bible (88 books there). I'll cut myself a little slack: last year held some life challenges that seemed to throw me off. After Bill's surgery in April and through my dad's decline, I somehow couldn't stick with any book. Month after month this went on.

One year after we met, my bibliophile husband suggested I start a reading log. Since the summer of 1975 I've kept a log of every book read.

The log is a revealing look back at various life seasons. It hints at God wooing me, long before I decided to get to know Him. It speaks of my desperation to navigate motherhood (Your Two Year Old and The Strong-Willed Child), as I'd lost my mother before I became one. It also shows my human inability to do much more than care for four babies and toddlers: some years I read very few books.

Beside each title I noted the author, date read, and usually a one-sentence synopsis and whether or not I liked it. ("Fabulous!" "V. Good" "Fascinating") My log doesn't include the many books I started but never finished: since I'm past the age of book reports, I only finish a book if I enjoy or am somehow compelled to see it to the end. A few have been read twice, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot.

I'm not much for fiction. This has been a lifelong preference: I remember heading for the biography shelves in my elementary school library! To me the life stories of real people hold deeper fascination than any fictional character.

And so I'm nearly 39 years into my log. The toddlers are grown and gone. I work a part-time job, but still have enough time to read. So this year my goal is one book per month. Right now (see previous post), I'm finishing books #2 and 3. On target!

It's good to be "home" with books again. What are you reading? Do you have a reading goal?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

living expectantly and thankfully ~ eucharisteo

 I'm going on 60.
I've seen loved ones age and die and don't think for a minute
that mortality isn't on my radar. 
Losing your parents will do that and it shakes you. 
I decided this is the year I need to get serious,
to ask God to pierce my heart for what He is calling me to do, to be, to write.
I want to live expectantly for God.
And thank Him ... in the waiting, the not knowing, and yes,
even the deaths of loved ones.
So I pray. I contemplate.
I've found it can be easy to feel a bit "washed up" when children do
what we raise them to do: take care of themselves.
I fully expect God isn't going to shelve me and the gifts He gave me.
He will come through and speak joy and challenge and direction. 
But then, being God, He will speak whatever He decides. And I will listen.
Right now I'm reading two books at once. (Something I never do.) 
Each has 11 chapters, so it works.
One is a second read, Writers in the Spirit by Carol Rottman.
I won this little treasure in a writing contest judged by Carol.
It's part devotional and part practical advice for aspiring Christian writers.
 I "get" so much of what Carol writes.

The other is New York Times bestseller One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
It is deep, metaphorical. In fact, I started it a month ago but had to start over. 
But wow it's shaking me up. Ann's writing style is poetic and she challenges me with transformative messages.
Eucharisteo - thankfulness.
 I am beginning my own one thousand gifts journal 
and I'm certain it will change my life.
Check out Ann's blog ... the music alone has me transfixed every time.
I want to share a quote or two from One Thousand Gifts but as I skim the
pencil-marked pages, it's proving impossible.
Ann's message is simple yet complex to fully grasp:
thanking God for everything, in everything.
She quotes Saint John of Avila at the start of chapter 5 ...
One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us,
is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.
This is the heart of who God is
and "makes meaning of everything," according to Ann.
Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.
~ Ann Voskamp

Saturday, March 1, 2014

happy birthday, sis!

Here's that photo again and I know exactly the year:
50 years ago, 1964!
While our house was being built, we rented a house from a retired couple
who spent the winter in Florida.
(Mom and Dad thought them awfully brave to entrust their
home to a family with four kids.)
My siblings and I practically lived outside that winter on Coldspring Drive,
sledding the hill out front and building enormous snow forts.
One neighbor even had a sled with a dog to pull it and
gave us rides up and down the road.
What a glorious, Narnia-like introduction to New England after living
in flat places like Detroit and Memphis.
One Sunday night in February my dad was watching Ed Sullivan
and called us to the living room.
"Come see these crazy guys with long hair, called the Beatles!"
I was nine and my sister Anne almost three.
These old photos hold such rich memories of our childhood. 
Today is Anne's birthday.
Happy birthday, sis. I love you!