All posts by Jeanie

About Jeanie

Wholehearted living somewhere in the middle of all my years. Aging parents, grown kids, and grandbebes everywhere! Married to my love and lifelong best friend, Dave for 33 years now. We raised 5 kids and lived to tell about it. My life's mission is to declare the great faithfulness of God to the next generations, especially those in mi familia!

“I collect pretty things”

mom alzheimers

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“I don’t know why I have all these things,” she said.  “I guess I just like to collect pretty things, anything at all that is pretty.  I just like them.”

Mom is aging.  Mom is losing memories to that dreaded disease {we can barely whisper it, dementia}, like the autumn tree loses leaves, softly, quietly ~ leaf begins its’ descent, down-down, a swirl and a sudden swoop upward, then, swept away in the wind, settling in a crevice on the earth’s floor.

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And she has a drawer, or two…maybe 4 in which she has stored photographs and newspaper articles and pictures of puppies and magazine tear-outs of scroll-y art which she plans to glue to an envelope or piece of paper for writing lovely, loving letters to some one she cares about.

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“I just wanna take pictures of the whole world.”   -Norma Jean, my mamala. November 2013

Some of us wish to “help her clean” those drawers, to lighten her load by getting rid of things and scraps we are certain she doesn’t really need.  I start to offer my help, I resist this urge.  Because despite the diminishing certainty in her brain,  and that facts and details are being swept out to a sea of forgetfulness (how very God-like, really, isn’t it?), these notes and papers and pictures and print-outs are all important to her, her tangible hold and her physical memory.  She wants them, needs them, she desperately clings to the information they hold for her.

I resist my urge to purge on her behalf. Instead, I let her pull them out again to recount the story of why she loves each one and her plans for what she’ll do with them. “I’m going to make a book of cars for Hunter to read to Kai. And this is a cartoon I thought Ronnie May would find so funny. Oh – look, here is my pattern for those Christmas-card trees I’ve been wanting to make…

I note something very new on this visit: I have a terrible time getting her to go for walks – this woman who has always loved outdoor activity and horseshoes and playing baseball and lassoing imaginary cattle.  Fear is the cruelest part.  She fears the walks on uneven surfaces because of the falls of the past year.  But when finally I get her there, her most vibrant, youthful, excited self shows up to investigate the woods and explore the paths with utter abandon and childlike enthusiasm. She out corn-holed both dad and me, twice! And she’d have kept throwing those corn-filled bags if night hadn’t fallen fully.

For my mamala is losing pieces and snippets

{a few leaves flutter to the ground around us on our walk}.

She is missing moments and words are escaping her

{a breeze – then swirls of yellow leaves swish and swoop finally making their way to the ground}.  There they go–

{the larger Elm and scarlet Maple leaves whisper as they pass us falling to the earth}

and simple tasks and skills slowly, slowly falling down.  Leaves flutter toward our feet {gravity is winning} catching the late day sun and something

 ~{a memory, a knowing} ~

once so sure, falls with them.

Then in a sudden flash of exuberance, “Oh look at that leaf, will you?” she’ll ask, and she picks it up from the ground and with it comes a vibrant, razor-sharp recollection.  And I’ll hear a story with detail-complete clarity and accuracy, but one I may never hear again – because she’ll remember it no more.

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She sometimes knows with utter and complete understanding, and seconds later is completely unaware that it is so.  And I have no desire to rush this process.  For whatever she loves, I will love.  Whatever brings joy to her heart, I will find joy in, through her eyes, Please help me with that, Lord.  Help me not to rush these days and these “silly things” she collects with child-like delight. Oh God, help me hold her most valuable treasures for her, as she loses the strength to do so…

She makes me laugh, her sweetness.

An assortment of colorful leaves falls from her handbag as I help her search for her wallet.  Because.  They are pretty.

“That’s just me, I reckon. I collect pretty things.”

This morning, rising early, I saw her on her back deck which faces the eastern-sky, just as the sun was rising and flickering through the tree branches which have formed a black lace as they have started to bare.  Beyond the expanse of grass, a wooded area where she daily enjoys the deer family as they graze, the sun began to emerge, finally exploding into bright light just above the trees.   It is where she goes to watch and wait for the return of Christ each morning.  I stood in the shadows, on this morning, and watched her worship, watched her raise her arms to welcome the day, to tell the Lord she looks for His return.  Every part of her open, loving heart belongs to the One she longs for…

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22.17

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True story: {she is this very second showing me her biggest, prettiest Maple leaf, making sure I know all the reasons it is as beautiful and special as she thinks it is}…and I look at gentle and animated, piercing-blue eyes with a halo of ever-whitening hair, and I say yes, so beautiful, mamaladeeply beautiful, for so she is.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus…my mama is looking for You. And that, she does not forget.

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NOTE 10.28.15:: I just wrote about my recent trip to visit my mom and mentioned the dreaded “A” word for the first time (Alzheimer’s Disease) on this blog.  You may read about it HERE

They call it labor because it’s hard work

One of my most stunningly incredible life’s successes is that I had 5 babies. I brag on myself that I did pregnancy and delivery so well. I have proof: 5 gorgeous adults, ages 29-36 walking around the earth. :)

Maybe I wasn’t as good at it as I remember, but the end result turned out, anyway.

Labor is hard work!

My sweet niece is in labor today, a baby girl to arrive soon. She texted to let me know because I predicted today to be the day (I LOVE being right) and I texted her back: you were born for this…baby girl is coming today...adding pink bows and hearts and happy emoticons, like aunties do.

Then, I had to give a little advice, because I love to give advice. All women who have ever had a baby in the history of humankind like to give birthing advice, but I know mine is good because of previous evidence presented here! :)

I told her what I tell every mama who is heading into labor. Because labor is work. It is hard work!  And as exciting as it starts out to be, somewhere in the middle, your uterine muscles contracting with strength that could knock you flat, when you’re tired and the centimeters are not reflecting what your body is doing to you – somewhere before the baby comes, almost every woman starts to doubt she can do this, she begins to wonder if she can’t just quit for today.

christiana at 40 weeks and 1 day

So, we breathe deep and slow. We moan so those vocal vibrations reverberate deep into our own bodies to relax them. And I tell all the mommies, all the young beauties about to give birth: you were born for this. You are the chosen one. Baby is almost here. Now – see the ocean. You’re on shore wading towards it, you have the strength to meet that wave that’s coming. Don’t wait – go meet it… 

The waves grow larger and stronger.

The way I see it, there are three ways to deal the power of the sea heading your way while you’re in labor:

  1. Run back toward land as fast as you can, screaming in fear.
  2. Clench your teeth and fists and close your eyes and plant your feet firmly and let it hit you while you attempt to resist.
  3. Or, and this is the best way, take a deep breath and meet that wave – go to it, go deep. Let the waters rise and cover you, but keep those hands and your heart wide open and tell the sea, I am here for my baby! And you’ll find the the wave has taken you out further towards your destination when it subsides. It’s true!

I have gotten to be in the room with a few mommies now as a doula (“a woman who serves”), experiencing the moment of birth, getting to pray laboring women through, encourage and cheer them on. And that is how we do it.

And it takes incredible bravery and so  much strength, in spirit, soul and body. But a contraction starts to rise, and mommy breathes slow and deep (in through the nose, slowly-slowly out through the mouth) and into the ocean she goes. Those of us near a laboring woman can cheer her on, we can breathe along, and we can pour our courage in to her, but she faces this daunting task with a power she did not know she had, just mommy-to-be and the wild, holy waves of labor.

I often think of the birth experience and how it relates to the rest of life, for God had this amazing way of placing repetitions in creation, things that became signposts and touchstones for us.

And today, as I was thinking of sweet niece and this amazing day of adventure, one that will change her forever, a day she will never forget, I was thinking about the waves. Right now, they’re easier and she can handle them and still text her aunt. But soon, they’ll begin to almost overtake her and there will not be time for idle chatter. She’ll have to wade out and show her strength.

Life is hard, too, sometimes.

And I was thinking about things we face in life, less noticed – the things no one will throw you a fancy shower to celebrate (though you deserve it now, if ever!). But they are life-changing nonetheless. They are things that will change you at the core, and you’ll never be the same. Things happen. And they aren’t always what you would have chosen. And I have said, in the not too distant past, “I didn’t think I’d be here at this age. I don’t think I can do this…” 

And quite honestly, I have run screaming the opposite direction, and stood bracing myself, fists clenched, eyes shut tight – trying to ignore and wait for certain things to pass. There are just things I absolutely do not feel like I can handle and I don’t want to handle and I am so afraid of the unknown sometimes. Am I up to the challenge? Pretty sure I’d like to wait awhile, thank-you very much.

Deep calls to deep at the [thundering] sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.  Psalm 42.7 Amp.

But I was minding my own business thinking about the niece, when it hit me (is that You, Lord?) we can face whatever happens this same way. Birthing babies is proof. I can resist all day long or I can believe I was born to conquer this thing, whatever “this thing” is. I can, after all, do all things through Christ who strengthens me! See Philippians 4.13.

Let’s open our arms wide, throw our heads back in courage, take a deep breath and go meet those waves. We were born for this! We’ve got it, baby! All the new things are out there waiting for us to come and get them! And if we get knocked down a few times along the way, if the waves overcome us now and again, the One who promised never to leave us nor forsake us is right there, cheering us on, pouring His courage into us. Let’s birth some promise here!

yongsunkimonpinterest

Image from Pinterest, Calling by Yongsung Kim, oil on canvas

Christiana-girl: your birth signaled the entrance of spring and new life to me so many years ago at a time of  “beginning again” (Spring, your middle name). I am cheering you on from Denver today! xoxoxo

Everything is just so beautiful.

We walked the meadow behind the house. We walked it again and again, my mamala and I, this past week when I went to visit. The trees were barely turning and the assortment of wildflowers and weeds were thriving in the mild midwest autumn. Butterflies and moths darted flower to flower, a cow moo-ed just beyond the treeline.

“I think that cow is hungry,” my mom told me following each moo. She wants to feed all the hungry, like always.

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Camera ever in hand, she took pictures of every possible thing out there, because, as she told me repeatedly, “Everything is just so beautiful! Do you see this? I’m telling you, it is just so beautiful!”

And I thought the neighbors might wonder why on earth she was snapping pictures of a weed gone to seed, or a whirligig on her back fence, or the clouds in the sky or a tree, then another and yet another, and sometimes a single leaf? A pretty rock? *snap* The neighbor’s barn? *snap* These purple flowers? *snap*snap* Oh, but wait…those purple flowers, too *snap!*

As if she heard my thought, she responded, “I know people might wonder why I am taking these pictures, but I just love life! I do! I love everything about it and God made everything beautiful!  Everything is just so beautiful, I’m telling you!

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And in the time we’d walk and talk and sing and snap pictures, she’d tell me the same thing over and over. Everything is just so beautiful! Every-thing!

Because she really didn’t remember she had just told me…3 minutes before. And she wanted to make sure I would know.

mom and cam oct 16

My mom has dementia (most likely caused by Alzheimer’s Disease). I have wanted to write about it, but couldn’t because on occasion, though her computer skills were among the first of the losses, she might still have occasionally found her way to my blog. But no more. And each time I see her, I see less of her. So I am keen to hold on to what remains: her wisdom, her laughter, her zeal for nature and taking pictures. She still hugs me like there is no tomorrow (does she know?) and tells me I’m wonderful, my biggest cheerleader. She is losing dates and names and physical strength, but her creativity and love for beauty and her love for family remain intact. So far.

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So each trip to see her, I look for the message she is still intent on writing on my heart (ever my mommy). This time it is this: No matter where you are and how unsatisfactory the circumstances might seem, look around, Jeanie. Open your eyes. See all God has done. Everything is just SO beautiful – you are surrounded by beauty. 

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I hope I get my mom’s loving, appreciative, grateful, beauty-seeing, clear-visioned eyes. I think she is trying to impart them to me.

so beautiful mamala

All you need is a seed

All you need is a seed.” – me

This is Kai. Age two. We walked around the park and he blew dandelion dead-heads and a great future for the yellow flowers into the air, again and again.

kai two blowing dandelions

We shall not discuss the merits (some might call them a bane) of the dandelion’s existence. I doubt one could argue the beauty of the yellowest yellow against green grass, nor dispute its’ place as the #1 child-to-mommy bouquet annually.

We just know that in its’ short life, it blooms pure yellow-happiness. Then dies. But the story isn’t over for the dandelion, oh no. The slightest breeze, a person shuffling by or an exuberant, puffing 2-year old can give the dried up ‘old dandee’ another chance. A lot of other chances, actually. The life is in the seed.

So don’t give up your day dream, as they say, even if it’s looking dead. Every possible chance for it to live again is in the shriveled, dried up grain of a plan, a hope, a heart’s wish. You never know who might come along and give you another chance, or even more. The life is in the seed. *poof!

Seven Sweet Summer Things // Thought-Collage Thursday

1.

Hot coffee and ice-cold watermelon. It’s what’s for breakfast. Although, this morning, it was actually a luscious peach from Colorado’s western slope. Oh. my. word! Mmmmm!

2.

food

Memory: The best summer meals I ever ate were as a kid at my Aunt Rosie’s house: grilled burgers, garden fresh tomatoes and corn on the cob, straight from her backyard. Watermelon for dessert. The tomatoes and the corn were all I really needed, though. Still.

3.

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Garden Talks:: I approached the chorus of 6-foot sunflowers near the back line this morning, after a 2-week absence. I am quite sure they hadn’t heard I was home, as they had their gazes firmly fixed eastward, probably wondering where on earth I had gone.  “I’m back,” I announced, “you may now heliotrope to your heart’s content.” Hopefully they won’t be all stand-offish and soon I’ll see their gaze coming my way. West, my sweets, west.

The pumpkins required a stern talking to, spreading out and covering the sage and butterfly plants as they were. They do require a great lot of space, to be sure, but they mustn’t just override their garden companions with no thought for the ‘morrow. They are safely tucked about now, room to spread and grandly producing round spheres for autumn pies.

Some tiny varmint is eating the white petunia petals and I don’t wonder why, scrumptious as they are, all frilly and pretty in the late summer sun. But still, this may require a squirt of cayenne pepper sauce to dissuade their voracious appetites.

Left to her own accord, the basil is attempting a one-woman show in glorious floral bloom. “Not yet,” I must insist. For once the flowers burst forth, the plant’s usefulness is limited. There is more pesto to be enjoyed, more hand-crafted pizzas to be flavored. She’ll get her stage soon enough.

Naturally, while I was gone, the thistles and goat-heads thought they could safely become one of my garden family, just tucking themselves in here and there. Not a chance, little outlaws. I am coming for you!

All the potted flowers and veggies are moaning a bit under the distress of timed waterings instead of being coddled and cooed over daily. The tomatoes, my garden’s royalty, are fruit-full, yet sort of droopy and whining laments. A little extra attention twice daily should have them perked up soon enough.

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4.

Family reunion. 38 of us gathered in mid-America, or was it 39? The mamala and papasan, their children (we original 5 + spouses), most of our children’s children and some of theirs (the greats).

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Come and gather around at the table
In the spirit of family and friends
And we’ll all join hands and remember this moment
‘Til the season comes ’round again

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My great-niece-dog, Sadie

Family is so important to me. My family-of-origin is scattered across the nation. We’ve never all been living close together, not since the late 70s, before families of our own, careers and ministries…but the testament of our connection shows up semi-regularly.

Our very first Ross & Norma reunion was in 1995. My parents were celebrating their 38th anniversary that year (Dave and I, our 14th). In a few days, my parents will mark their 58th anniversary and my daughter Stephanie and her husband, Tristan, will be celebrating their 14th anniversary. Wha…?

Did that really just happen? Life, it speeds. No bumps can slow it down. You may quote me on that.

koob girl team

Let’s all try to smile for the picture
And we’ll hold it as long as we can
May it carry us through
Should we ever get lonely
‘Til the season comes ’round again

the mom

5.

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{purchase this print here}

Indiana was filled with lightning bugs. And the cicada’s song, rock stars all, I tell you. And swooping bats (perhaps driven crazy by the loud singing?).

6.

The weather report:: The daily sun is hot in the bluest skies, but fading to gentle evenings, perfect temps and fire-y skies. Brilliant sunsets dazzle me. And remind me how quickly the days pass, making me a bit melancholy, too.

my mamala

My mamala

But sunrises fill me with hope, every morning. There is an undeniable mercy in the gift of a new day. The early mornings have become downright cool now, requiring sleeves. The relentless sizzle of mid-summer when I left in late July is transitioning to something new, a season shift. It’s good, but it came so quickly. I am always tentative about change and concerning summer? I “never can say goodbye.”

7.

Summer songs. There is something about songs that remind you of summer, the ones you sang in younger days with the windows down after a DQ ice cream cone or a Dr. Pepper and McDonald’s fries.

pinterest image summer song

{source}

“Summer Breeze,” Margaritaville” (a Moslander-reunion fav even though the bunch of us are tee-totalers); “Summer Loving” from “Grease,” “Indian Reservation” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” “Close to You” by the Carpenters! “Annie’s Song,” by the incredible Mr. John Denver and “Kung Foo Fighting,” because I had brothers. A weird mix, to be sure, but some of these just showed up during the summers of our youth and never leave our hearts. It is always about the song to me. Always.

Hope your summer is sweet.

As the blog header says, “Summer should get a speeding ticket.” It’s like getting bangs. You can work for-ever trying to grow long hair, but the minute you get bangs, they just grow right on out in like, a week!

Summer is like the bangs of a hairdo. We wait for a looooong time for it to arrive and then, BAM! Over.

So enjoy it all you can!

What’s been your bets part? Tell!

No Regrets, Bella Donna!

This is a collection of thoughts by my friend, a woman-of-a-certain-age, as she thinks about who she is now with all the years behind {with lots of paraphrasing}. And while we “somewhere-in-the-middle” types can be prone to regret, too easily looking at our failures rather than our victories and be very critical on ourselves, a godly woman’s life is to be revered. Over the course of time, we have done a lot of good in the world and it takes the wisdom of years before we seem to be able to actually say that! And be gentle with our own history.
 ***
My friend, Donna, a wife, a mom, and a Nonna, has had good times and hard, laughter and joy and deep sorrow. I collected some of her own thoughts (things she actually has a hard time saying about herself) and added my cheering-her-on words to affirm who she has become, thankful that I can feel the warmth of her life’s light from a thousand miles away.
***
Real woman, real thoughts. To my daughters and sisters in the faith – go ahead and write your story. Write the future the way you want it to play out. Write who you want to be by the time you’re Donna’s and my age (you know God has already placed dreams in your heart – say them out loud).  Declare His truth about you over yourself even if no one else does! It’s ok to break into a happy smile when you realize all the good things your Father in heaven believes about you!  Start now. Just think how awesome it’ll be by the time you get to this season! :) 
By the way, older woman in the church to the younger women in your life: cheer them on!
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come…” Hab. 2.3-4 NKJV
For Donna…who knows deep down ::
I am fearless. {perfectly love-full}
I pray better now. My first instinct is to pray over every situation.  {He hears}
I follow my heart more than I once did. I’ve learned to trust myself and not just accept what others tell me is best. {down with fear of man}
I believe in myself. {I in Him, Him in me}
I run.  I have always loved to run. {run to win}
I walk. I am not a couch potato. {keep in step with the Holy Spirit}
I’m a writer.  I faithfully jot my thoughts and dreams in my diaries, as soon as something wonderful strikes my fancy. {“This will be written for a generation to come…that people…may praise the LORD”}
I have learned to be my own best friend, instead of my own worst enemy. {I spent years being an incredible friend to others}
I am a loving wife.  It took me awhile to get that right, but as soon as I knew to do better, I did. {my husband’s heart can trust me fully now}
I trust my own heart.  Led by the Holy Spirit, I can easily discern the best things. {He guides, He teaches, I just know what to do}
I do art and crafts and embrace my colorful, winsome creativity. {oh so child-like, which very much pleases the Father}
I finish projects, not so they’re perfect, but for the joy and satisfaction. {and then I rest}
I am sure to surround myself with good counselors and friends to confide. {isolation is no bueno}
I have kept relationships with people across many miles and through many years, thankful for people who have crossed my path. {a rich tapestry}
My husband’s family is a treasure and I am honored to be a daughter to them, to have joined them by marriage. They are as close to me as my family by blood. {heritage by covenant} 
I am committed to being true to myself and to being the woman God created me to be. {in His image}
People are so interesting to me, I welcome their gifts and their stories and love to nurture their dreams and encourage them on their journey. I receive who they are so I never even have to worry how they feel about me. We develop mutual respect and admiration! {you are admired and beloved}
I am blessed to have God’s favor and approval on my life, on my husband and children and on the children’s children. {I crown my family with blessing}
I am so blessed…Any more would just be icing on the cake.  And hot cake is fine without the icing. {contentment}
Speaking of children… I would enjoy mine in every stage more, if I had it to do over.  I would guard against distractions.  I would talk right to them and listen to them more.  And I’d say ‘yes’ more!  And yell way less. But with the wisdom of age? I am a fantastic, loving, nurturing mom. And as a grandmother? Off the charts amazing! {a woman to be praised}
I dance.
I enjoy life.
I laugh more.
I play more and I work more.
I am tempted to look back with regret, but there is so much future ahead!
I have a mission! I want to infuse the generation with so much love they cannot fear, with confidence in who God created them to be. I want to tell them the stories of the faithfulness of God in our lives through all their years. I want to enCOURAGE my daughters and my grandchildren, pour my very faith and courage in to their lives! Where I am set free, my children will be set free! Woo-hoo! This shall be their heritage and their portion, all I receive from the LORD will be theirs, free for the enjoying! :)
I am an obedient daughter of the King of Kings. I KNOW His voice. I hear Him loud and clear.
 Wish I could have known to love who God created me to be earlier, to trust myself.   Wish I hadn’t been afraid to see myself through my Father’s eyes. But I know now and my days are blessed by His relentless love and pursuit.
I am me. I love fiercely and get my approval from God!
I LOVE the Lord.
I am going to write books about it – all He showers on me freely!
Because did I mention? It isn’t my day job {yet}, but it is my life’s call – I am a writer!
YES, you are, Donna-Bella! No regrets!
donnabellawhimsical
The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises! Proverbs 31.30-31 Msg.
So much ahead. It is never too late to be the women God created us to be. Thank goodness!

Thought-Collage Thursday // Through the Open Window

An open window is a two-way relationship.

open window

Saw it on Pinterest. {Source}

I am quite aware of the sounds that find their way in to my house through my open doors and windows. In fact, truth be told, I can get a little annoyed that I am not living on a remote piece of land, unbothered by auditory clutter. But I just sometimes forget that some of me drifts out, too, to passersby.

“If your neighbor has wind chimes, you have wind chimes.” On my cousin’s FB timeline

These perfect, wide-open-window days and nights I hear things like:

The whistler. He lives across and down, a retired man, a gardener. His yard might be considered over-planted and a little too fussy with its’ stone deer and owls and whirligigs, but he provides us all with a dazzlingly array of flowers in shocking oranges and hot pinks only broken up by the perfectly coiffed green grass.  His yard is tiny compared to ours, but he walks it, he tends it, he improves it and enjoys it. And he whistles, non-stop. He whistles from sun up to sun down. You are never unaware of his time outdoors, because. Whistling.

The doggies. I guess because I don’t have one now, I am more aware of the neighbor’s dogs. One comes outside and announces his presence. Down a few houses, another answers that he, too, is outside. Across the way a couple of pups excitedly get in on the conversation. Soon, from many directions, the dogs, in almost a chorus, yelp and bark and woof away for just a little while, catching up on the events of the day. Then, just as quickly as it started, it dies down. But they’ll gab over fences again soon, several times a day, without fail.

The birds are just delightful. I have a yard the birds love. At first light this morning, I pulled the curtains open to watch some blackbirds and robins searching for seeds in the cool morning grass. Some walk, some hop (**boing-boing-boing**).

A couple of stealthy squirrels were ambling down the neighbor’s roof-line, trying to wage a secret attack and eat whatever the birds had found first, but when they tried to shimmy down branches on a very young, supple tree, they fell 3 feet to the ground, ker-plunk! They were found out. The birds chirped some “I-don’t-think-so’s” their direction and went back to their search. Said squirrels scampered away.

I see the bunny, “Peter-Cottontale,” I call him. He first appeared the evening Sandy died, mourning with us. He munches on grass and co-exists with us. Every evening, as the sun is setting, I know he’ll be right there, just outside my window saying, “Yes, I miss Sandy, too.”

Through the open window, I hear the early birdsong and the all-day bird chatter. I hear a fly try to get through the screen, buzzzz-smack. Foiled. I hear the car horns toot, girls driving by a popular boy’s house across the street. Sirens in the offing. Conversations between neighbors are carried on the breeze. Children are playing on the sidewalks, lots of laughter, an occasional crying bout. Every morning a young dad and his two girls bicycle past, always talking excitedly, having genuine conversations. Then they come back on their way home, planning their day, enjoying each other. The mailman, heavy-footed stomping up, then down the stairs, talks loudly on his cellphone on my front porch. And passing cars with their windows rolled down “share” their music.

And what drifts out? I hope goodwill. I hope they aren’t annoyed that I sing all. the. time. I hope if they hear the song, they start singing, too. And I hope they don’t think badly of me for setting off the fire alarm several days in a row.  I do hope they enjoy the wonderful smells coming from my kitchen. An open window is a two-way relationship. It’s good to remember this.

breeze open window

Is it sacrilegious to question this?

You know how everyone always says, “When God closes a door He opens a window?” It’s usually to try to placate us when something hasn’t worked out like we thought it would or when times are hard. But I’m not a fan of it. I think God knows I have a bad knee and climbing through a window would be risky. Plus, He doesn’t seem to be the type running around closing doors and locking them on people. He said Come, knock, the door will be opened to you. Not Ha-gotcha! Go find a little window to jump through! I mean, I might do that. But not God. Pretty sure.

I’ll just try the back door, thank-you very much. Or maybe just remember to knock and wait for Him to open it.

I did climb through a window once, though.

I did. I climbed out a window to go see a boy. I was 16 and *gloriously stupid.* I told my sister to leave the window cracked. I’d know my parents had discovered my absence if it was closed when I returned and I’d have to come in the front door and it wouldn’t be pretty. So, I went. I saw him and it was uneventful and certainly not worth the risk.

I came back and the window was closed tight. Closed! Dread, panic, doom, gloom…I felt nauseated, a rush of blood to my head, the tingle of hyperventilating stinging my face in chaotic patterns (having just run a mile home in the dark; see “*gloriously stupid*” above), scared-stiff! I pondered my options. Heart pounding, I tapped very lightly on the window, once, then twice, again…finally, my little sister got up, groggily, and opened the window. “Do mom and dad know I left?” I asked anxiously.

“No,” she whispered, “I just got cold.”

O-m-gee!!! I couldn’t be mad because she was keeping my secret, but geez! Even now, at fifty-something, I hope my dad doesn’t see this blog post!

A scripture about an open window, but not the one you’re thinking:

“We met on Sunday to worship and celebrate the Master’s Supper. Paul addressed the congregation. Our plan was to leave first thing in the morning, but Paul talked on, way past midnight. We were meeting in a well-lighted upper room. A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window. As Paul went on and on, Eutychus fell sound asleep and toppled out the third-story window. When they picked him up, he was dead.” – Acts 20.7-9

I know you were expecting the tithing scripture from Malachi 3 about not robbing God and then He will open the windows of heaven. But I thought this story from Acts was fun and different. Ends well, btw. Go. Read!

Open your windows! I suggest:

Let in the sweet spring air and the bright, lingering light. Hear the neighbor’s mowers and dogs and children. Speak a blessing out those same windows, let what drifts through your windows out to the world be good and godly, life-giving and love-filled. Think of the possibilities!

open window chalk

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Thought-Collage Thursday // He makes all things new

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”  – Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Seeds.

How do they know? How can they be sure when I take them, tiny, dried and shriveled, torn from small packages and pushed into wet soil in little cups, into cold darkness – how do they know, I wonder, what to do?

seedlings in egg-carton

Do they feel dead, useless, abandoned, lifeless, forgotten, put aside, finished, afraid, or misplaced? How does a seed buried come back from that, literally come alive where it cannot yet be seen and fully break free – emerging gloriously spring-green from its dark burial place?

I have a counter full of seedlings springing up daily now, some perennials, pumpkins and squashes and decorative grasses, herbs and flowers to attract butterflies. The joy of watching them appear surprises me every time. I always live in fear they will not do it. I always wonder if I over-moistened the soil, or under-watered. Did I plant too deep? Was it a bad batch of seeds? Will these things really grow? And then – VOILA! They arrive.

I love it especially when I spy the tiniest green spec in a soil-filled egg carton section in the morning and by evening see this brand-new seedling has risen fully up to face the sun’s warmth through the kitchen window. How tenacious, how brave and resolute.

All of creation tells us the Story, THE Story. Jesus in a tomb, dark and cold. On the third day, He awakens, sits up pushing aside His shroud and somehow that stone is rolled away and He emerges victoriously: Life. New Life! All things are made new and nothing will ever be the same. How tenacious the Love of God, how resolute and steadfast.

What if?

being planted

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What if you aren’t being buried, you’re being planted?

I saw this image on a Pinterest post {click here} and loved the hopefulness of it. What if...I mean what if we considered things differently, saw them from a different viewpoint? I am the worst at this! True confessions. But, really, what if...?

What if you weren’t ruthlessly expelled as much as thrown clear to keep you safe from harm’s way?

What if you weren’t unmercifully uprooted, but are being transplanted to a better location, a healthier place for thriving, a more spacious boundary line?

What if the delay, the seemingly endless wait wasn’t punishment or a sign of God’s displeasure, but part of His plan to bless you, set you up for amazing grace and favor?

What if the place you work, the classes you take, the house you live in, the people you know, the circumstances you find yourself in are part of God’s grand scheme to bless your community, to save a life, and to display His glory on the earth?

What if you don’t like what you have but what you want would hurt you?

What if the sun comes out and shines on the cold, dark soil of your current surroundings and the warmth and the rain and nutrient-rich burial ends up giving you nourishment and health you thought you’d never see again? It could happen.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

all things new

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There is this brand new baby girl.

Just got back from a baby-birthing in Nebraska. I cry every time I get to see a baby born.  Oh it is hard work. The things a woman goes through from look-at-me-easily-breathing-through-contractions to I’ll-never-make-it-through-this to *Ahhhhh*-I’ll-do-this-again…Ha! Well, it is truly, truly miraculous!

So she came to this beautiful familia, her mommy and daddy and a big sister and big brother awaiting her arrival with great joy and anticipation. So much preparation, anxiousness and planning. And then the time comes – the actual time of arrival and this mystical, other-worldly occurrence.   Bebe is there in her hiding place, under the shadow, waiting.

And we wait. And we wait with patience and then patience wanes. And we wait with holy reverence and then we wait praying God will hurry things up. Please God, now, we are so tired…Then He does, and we are not certain we really wanted that prayer answered (yes, we are funny sometimes, aren’t we?)…Then…

At this intense moment of deep anguish, this rising tsunami-wave of hard-labor, this center-of-the-universe, roaring pain, from being swept helplessly away in the waves of birthing (only minutes ago having so powerfully breathed through each contraction, controlled and steady), from experiencing what seems like a certain death to a Let-there-be-light explosion of birthing to Life. LIFE! Again. Brand new life…From darkness to light. Weak yet strong. Poured out, yet able. It is finished.

And the mama, heaven and earth having just passed through her, trembles as she looks into the bebe’s sweet, small face. She knows the baby girl, and the baby girl knows her. And it is all worth it.

I won’t even attempt to wonder what birth feels like for the bebe before she emerges from the hidden place where the very hands of God have been knitting her together there in the secret place to being catapulted into bright light living?! That is a story for another day. But I can’t wait to tell it!

sayble 1

I get to be a doula sometimes {doula is an ancient Greek word that means “woman who serves”} and I am so honored and blown away each time. See this pretty baby? She makes me feel both young and old. The whole birthing experience takes me back and I remember again, the beauty of my own 5…but I feel the age I am at the end of the labor and delivery {Sayble @90 minutes old, honorary Nonna @much older and feeling it}.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  –Revelation 21.5-7 ESV

Welcome to the world, Sayble-J

sable 2

Welcome to the world, fresh and pretty girl, all brand new.

Thought Collage Thursday // Therapeutic Things

eleanor brownn quote

That’s my mom in the picture, enjoying her back yard! :)

Oh, it’s that time again!

That’s right, friends and familia, far and wide. This Thursday’s child is wild about Thursdays and my brain is inevitably running-over with an assorted array of somewhat disconnected thoughts and observations. Although I must tell you, I love finding the common theme after I have blurted it all out. That is always when the finished title emerges. Today? Therapeutic things, because you can and should attend to yourself, spirit, soul and body. Stay strong and healthy – it will bless everyone you love!

Enjoy spring.

I mean – can anyone really comprehend what it is like to have to live in a state that is so sunny-bright on these 70-some degree days in the spring with almost-zero humidity? Must I bear this cross alone? …Just kidding around with you, and maybe gloating a little.

The rainy days just past were purely lovely (more to come, I hear). They did what only spring rains can do. But the warm sun that follows, releasing the lilac’s deepest perfume – well, ’tis a glimpse of heaven, I am certain.

common lilac

NOTE:: If you do not own a lilac bush, go (immediately) make friends with some one who does and ask them if you might just stuff your face into the fully-florrid blooms in the heat of one of these spring-afternoons for just a few minutes. Therapeutic!

I wish I could dance.

I can’t. I can. not. Really. Everybody tells me it is possible, that even I could learn, but it isn’t. I was raised that dancing was a sin. My parents became Christ-followers through a “holiness” group that put the kibosh on most anything fun as being a “worldly amusement.” They pretty much lived by the mindset I am in the world, but I will not be amused by it.

Now my mom did say, many times as I was growing up, “Well, they tell me dancing is a sin. but if it weren’t, I’d get you ballet and tap lessons.” Haha. The obvious dilemma being that there was no differentiation, in the holiness standard, between dancing for joy, for art, for the beauty of movement and that shady stuff happening at dimly-lit parties with men putting their arms around other men’s wives after a few martinis, lusting and smoking cigarettes. No, just to be careful – rule out ALL dancing.

Never mind that the Psalmist, a man after God’s own heart, danced in the Bible! He also took his clothes off to do it. So that story never got told with flannel graph in Sunday School!

Somewhere along the way my parents figured out that dancing, that joyous release and movement celebrating being alive, and even the slow dance between married lovers, isn’t a chute straight to hell. They dance now! I even have video and photos of it, which makes me happy!

But it’s too late for me.

My feet are nailed by the heavy stakes of holiness-past to the ground. I’ve got rhythm. I just can’t seem to use it. I dream of it, though. I have dreams where I can run and twirl and leap and dance and practically fly. So, I can’t dance for now, but in heaven, I’m thinking I’ll be able to and wow, loving the thought!

HOWEVER – if you CAN dance, you should. You MUST! Therapeutic and free!

This really works.

Want to feel accomplished? Want your mind to be cleared and your life ordered in a way that makes sense? Grab your garden gloves (buy a pair at the dollar store), and a grocery bag. Head out to your garden squares or borders, the places where last week’s rains made the weeds feel all haughty and strong. Set your phone timer for 5 minutes. Grab hold of the obvious weeds at the base, the ones emerging in your borders and along fence lines. Pull. Tap lightly to return the soil to which they were clinging to its’ rightful place and fill your bag. In 5 sweat-free minutes, you’ll have stuffed that bag with unwanted, noxious weeds and given yourself a gift to enjoy later.

You can do this in the morning when you first arise, the cool of the day (God is always hanging around gardens, I have found). You can do it when you’re on the phone, or while the coffee brews. It works when you’re heading out or just getting back home, a 5-minute weed-pull here, another 5 minutes there.

dragonfly

Today it’s a chore, sure. But next week,  when you look at that small area, the ones where the weeds threatened to overtake your yard and garden (or where the grass hopped happily in to your garden beds), you’ll smile and reap the rewards of the time you tended your space. 5 minutes a day or a few 5-minute grocery-bag stuffings throughout the week: you’ll stretch and move and breathe and tend and have accomplished big things in short spurts. Good for the brain and body, satisfying for the soul.

“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.” Genesis 2.15

WARNING: Unused winter muscles will feel it and hurt, but in a good way!

Why you should sing.

Singing is amazing. This articles says singing (1) boosts cardiovascular health, (2) stimulates the brain, (3) reduces stress, (4) naturally heals and (5) builds confidence. But it’s also just fun.

You also need no special equipment to do it. And if you want to sing and be courageous, too, join a karaoke site. There are thousands of songs you can sing with just your smart phone and ear buds and it’ll be simply for your fun and enjoyment. And while I suspect it may have been considered “worldly amusement” by some for all of the “secular” songs there, I think it’s fun for the heart and soul. And they even have worship songs and church music if that’ll make it better for you. ;)

life is a song

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You have to be brave and silly to sing on a karaoke site, but I’m doing it and it’s making me breathe deeper, which I need. I just posted “Harper Valley PTA” on a karaoke site this week and it made me laugh so much at myself. I loved that song as a kid, even though, as you might imagine, people who don’t dance also don’t like these types of drinking-adultry-miniskirt-type songs. :) But I did it. I just sang it anyway.

Len Sweet’s Bible Credo.

reading your bible

This poetic post about the Word of God, the scriptures, our Bibles – just made me want to go grab mine right away and get started on digging out the treasures, trying to comprehend the mysteries and just knowing the author of Love better, all over again.  Too much of my life has been spent shooting {or dodging} “scriptural truth bullets,” reading to try to figure out the “rules” or staying on the doggone one-year reading schedule** to earn divine points (true confessions). Sometimes this magnificent treasure has felt burdensome or life-killing. I do not want to pass that on to my grandbebes. I want them to experience the Logos and the Word made Flesh the way Len Sweet has so poetically  shared here.

“I believe you can’t go through the Scriptures without the Scriptures going through you… changing the drumbeat of your life as you dance to a new rhythm….I believe reading the Bible is not a disciple’s homework but a disciple’s holy play.”  ~Leonard Sweet

Did he say something about dancing??? :)

Read it. You’ll find yourself looking for the first available free moment to crack it open, to devour its pages and receive the words of life again! And again!

**PS I am not against reading plans…I have just botched them so badly I end up hurrying through and miss the whole {beautiful, “holy play” } point!

Call your mom.

Seriously. If your mom lives nearby, VISIT her. If she is far away, plan your next trip and call regularly. NO ONE has loved you longer! Except the Creator. But He chose her for you!

My mamala:

mamala collage

Let’s throw a parade!

As kids, parades were so easy, nothing but excitement, sound, color, horses (and shovels), Shriners in costume jewelry and little cars doing circles and patterns, with princesses on floats and marching bands. When you’re a kid, you don’t have to worry about where you’ll park and how you’ll fight the crowds or worry about who will clean up the paper mess afterwards.

But I liked this (from Pinterest, via Etsy):

kindness confetti

Let’s throw a parade! Let the kindness fly and the fun begin. First in our homes, with the people we love the most and then every where we go each day (school, work, stores, church) and give everybody the best parking spot and the curb-front seats to just being nice, in word and deed. We can make everyday a celebration-worthy holiday for some one, I am convinced!

I promise you, you’ll have the chance TODAY to be kind, or not. The confetti is in your hands! {No clean-up…now that IS therapeutic!}

Happy and Blessed Thursday, friends and family.

Take care of yourself and “Hey!” as they used to say on Hill Street Blues (which coincidentally aired on NBC’s Must-see-TV Thursday night line-up, “Let’s be careful out there!”

Turn around and you’re 2…

“Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a [grown boy] going out of my door.” -Harry Belafonte, 1957

The grand-boys

Only four of my 10 grandbebes are of the male persuasion. Hunter, who is 10, is keeping score and wants everybody to work diligently on even-ing the tally a bit.

the four grand-boys

Gavin is 12, holding Oliver who was about 4 weeks here. Hunter is 10 and Kai, 2, did not want to be in a picture!

Kai is 2 – this is mostly about him…

Kai on a walk

Malachai spent the night last week when his parents were doing a concert in the Springs. He is two, in all its’ glory. He has shot up like a spring weed ready to take over the world. He has opinions and understands every single thing I say, even if I cannot quite return the favor. If a request I have made vexes him, he need only cover his eyes with his hands and slump his shoulders for Nonna to take it back {{No, no, it’s ok – you don’t have to put the toys away, Kai-Kai}}. If he’d like one more piece of candy (after too many, already), tilting his head a bit while drawing me into the liquid blue pool of his gorgeous eyes and jabbering away (saying something quite funny, which I know because he then laughs uproariously) is all it takes. Ok, one more…

Alright, I must interject here: he is soooooooo smart! Malakai randomly pointed to the Excel icon on my Mac a few weeks ago and said, “Oh, Nonna – X!” I was like, “Kai-how did you know that???” Whereupon, he jabbered a long paragraph of explanation in his own Pentecostal-toddler language before clearly and assuredly saying, “I know that!”

Then the other night Dave was wearing a Broncos shirt and the font was kind of scrolly-semi-cursive. Kai said, “Oh, Poppa: B-O-O,” pointing to the letters that were obvious. Can you believe that? He is TWO…and pretty much extraordinary! IMHO.  ;)

Kai and his toys

Life is a vapor, people. James 4* was not kidding!

It is here and then, like a breeze just lifting a dry leaf and blowing it across the lines on the front walk, time is blown quietly way on down the road, section by section and everything has changed. And you wonder – how did we get here, already? You don’t notice it much day by day. But my little leaves, my darling grandbebes, are swirling and growing and each time I turn around, my breath catches and I wish, with eyes closed tight and fists clenched, I wish I could just stop time for a little while. Oh to love more, hug my bebes, kiss-kiss sweet cheeks and just soak in everything each one is right now, today.

But time marches on and there is nothing to stop it.

Gav & Hunter devices

Gavin will be twelve soon. He was only 3 when I started writing here on the blog. So it is here I have wept and laughed and tried to put words to the depth of my love, the increased capacity to feel and rejoice that grandchildren have brought me.

“Being a mom was the most wonderful thing.  Being a Nonna, I am completely undone.” ~From a post I did about Gavin, Hunter and Guini in 2007 SEE MORE HERE

And every now and again Kai says or does something and I remember Gavin or Hunter doing the exact same and it nearly knocks the wind from me to realize how fast that happened.

Gavin was building wooden block towers with Poppa just so very recently, wasn’t he? He was two, like, minutes ago…But now he texts me and we play games with our iPhones (he teaches me little tricks and secrets for using it). He seeks me out in crowds to give me very warm hugs and never leaves without kissing me good-bye, so thoughtful and grown-up. He was 2. Then a *snap of the fingers…Now he is almost 12.

Kai is 2 and I dare not look away, because he is also, I know now from experience, almost 10, nearly 12.

Gav & Hunter

Where are you going my little one, little one…

Kai woke up at exactly 5:55 a.m. the morning he was here. Even though his mommy told me that when he does that you can tell him he has to wait until the sun is up high in the sky to get up, I didn’t want him to feel unheard or uncared for being in a different place. I went to him and picked him up with such great affection I thought my heart would burst. “I’m here, Malakai, Nonna is here.” Dragging his blankie along he reached for me, then wrapped himself around me securely. In the quiet I hesitated, memorizing this fleeting moment, this tiny sliver of space and time in which you know that you know you are fully loved and fulfilling your purpose exactly perfectly. He relaxed, then, and he felt the  features of my face with his little hand in the early morning dark, “Nonna?” he asked, just to make sure.

Oh yes, I am, I thought. I’m your Nonna, baby boy. Let me hold you, let me carry you while I can. Let me love you and cheer you on and keep you safe and drink you in.

I brought him to our bed and placed him between us, his Poppa and me. He wanted to chat, but I whispered that we needed to wait until the sun was high in the sky. “High and ‘lellow’?” he asked. For “lellow” is his favorite color. It’s the color of his ultra-blond hair and his favorite cars and school busses and everything he loves the most. It’s the color of sunshine and it’s warm and happy and all the things Kai is to us.

Yes, bebe. Wait until the sun is high in the sky and bright lellow…

So he closed his eyes, he settled into plump pillows, his little feet resting against my leg. And as if my wish for making time stand still came true, a wave of deja-vu came over me: Gavin at not much older, in this same bed, he and I watching a Christmas movie. I kept drifting off and would be awakened with his little hand on my face, whispering, “Don’t go to sleep, Nonna – watch with me.” Then he would hold my face and look into my eyes making sure I stayed awake with him. I did.

And wasn’t  it just yesterday little Hunter would spend the night and when I’d think he had gone to sleep finally, on a special bed right beside mine, I’d wake up to find him, head propped on his hands, leaning on his elbows, practically nose to nose with me – just watching me. When he saw my eyes were open, he’d ask, “Are you awake, Nonna?” He just wanted to chat, middle of the night or not.

The memories felt thick and real.

For a second I couldn’t tell what year it was, suspended in timelessness and love.

I opened my eyes to check. And there was Kai, looking right at me in the slowly increasing light. He whispered something about us waiting for the sun to get high and lellow. He was holding his blue blankie and his little ‘lellow’ motorcycle {aka Vroom-Vroom}. He took the tiniest corner of the blankie into his mouth. It’s his comfort, the way he deals with things. You’ll see him just barely, very gently bite the very corner. It’s his alone, his thing.

We looked at each other in silence for a little bit, me, mesmerized by his baby blues, him, just barely touching his teeth to soft blue fabric.

Then he offered it to me – the corner of his blankie. He extended it my direction. “Bite? Want a bite, Nonna?”

He was giving me all of his earthly treasure, sharing the deepest love he could possibly share. Even recalling it now, *melting…

Kai and his umbrella

He is two. But he is already almost grown, too,  and the man God created him to be (so quickly). And I am not only undone, I am blown away at the power of the beautiful love of God through him.

Oliver is 7 weeks and 2 days old. Soon, so very soon,  he’ll be two, too.

See his newborn pics by Stephanie HERE.

oliver-small-size

Photo by Stephanie www.maydae.com

Thanking God for my grand-boys, His little men, today!

*James 4.13-14