Sunday, October 27, 2013

Right Now!

"When it's right you'll just know it!"

Everyone says that. In the moment, they are just words, doled out to give comfort or hope after a break up. The way a mother consoles her little athlete who has missed a play with the promise that he will make it big some day. Just you wait and see!

Then one day he notices her. Soon after someone introduces them. It only took a few times together before he is close to certain that he has found the someone who will prove that what they had said back then were not just words, but were coming true. For it felt right, and he knew it. Prayer and patience had prepared him for right now!

Love grew. Desire to spend a lifetime together was mutual. Talk about marriage and the future came naturally and their happiness was exploding. Others affirmed this rightness and they began to make plans. Her mother offered them a family heirloom ring, a treasure and a timely gift for both of them.  She would wear it proudly, understanding the history behind it. He would accept it gratefully, as God's provision; student loans were pressing and money was tight.

The ring arrived and a jeweler was asked to make some adjustments to fit and suit the new heiress. She knew the day he picked up the restyled ring and held it in his possession. The engagement was imminent!

From the moment the ring made it's way into his custody, he sweated the details of planning the momentous occasion of asking her to marry him. Because he knew, she knew, he now held the diamond, any fancy restaurant reservations or romantic places to visit would arouse her suspicion and he wanted to surprise her. She was charged with anticipation and teased him randomly with the simple question, "Right now?" How would he ever pull off his secretive mission of creating a special setting in which to pop the question?

It would have to be on one of their runs, he decides. Both of them were training for a marathon and to make the routine jogs more interesting and challenging, they had tried out many courses in town and around the area. He would suggest a particular park in town for their training on this important day. A friend was employed to help set up a picnic in a grove among some trees in the park. He searched the internet to find romantic quotes from the poets she esteemed and created a card for her.  A big tree stood prominently at the head of a turn in the trail they would run inside the park. Here he would affix the card. All was ready. It was afternoon and time to ask her to join him in their paces. Hopefully, they would time it just right so the friend who was helping would get away without being seen and so the picnic wouldn't be left too long unattended.

She is resistant to his ideas today, and he tries to insist, casually, that they will run in THE park and at THIS time. If only she knew how difficult she was being! Finally, they are on the way. 

As they approach the designated tree, she sees her name in large letters on a paper attached to the bark.  Curious, she stops to read the message while he tells her he will be just ahead waiting in that grove of trees. She opens the card. The letters marching across the inside page read, RIGHT NOW! 

She smiles and reads the rest of the words of her lover and turns towards where he awaits on one knee. Their joy is exuberant.  He breathes a sign of relief, praising God for right now places where his spirit is present and reveals more of his good plans for those he loves.

Here we are, Father, knowing that any day you could rend the heavens and say, "Right Now! I've come for you, enter into the Joy! This is the day we've been waiting for."  How I want to be reminded to anticipate that day. To fall more in love with you so my heart is asking at random moments the right now question, looking forward to the Big Day of starting our new life together. Thank you for popping the question, for wanting and loving me and for giving me revelation of yourself that led me to say yes.  Even so come Lord Jesus, my bridegroom!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Family in Autumn

Pillows are tossed and fluffed, vacuum inhales the corner cobwebs from the unused bedrooms, bathroom stools and counters meet with Spic and Span, all getting prepared for the Visit. Wanting to make the most of our short time together, the Agenda awaits.  The to-do- list includes games-we-always play-when-together, a corn maze visit, crafts for Nana to do with adolescents, watching Nancy Drew episodes on Netflix, visiting the hometown restaurants, and a special road rally to retrace roots and memories. The cinnamon rolls and shoo-fly pie are baked; foods we-always-eat-when-together.

My son and his family begin the journey from 700 miles away, and we wait excitedly to see their faces at the front door. This time our first hugging gets done in Mancino's parking lot where the travelers get a bite to eat. From there we go to the home place. Two of the three kids, my how they've grown!, scatter to check out all three floors of the house they remember well, yet discover anew.  Brayden, new to the family, makes his introductory walk-though. Bedrooms are staked out and the Visit is underway.

Jill and Elle want to watch Nancy Drew first thing so we settle down for a few episodes while mom and dad stretch out muscles that have been held captive in travel. The homemade foose ball game and air hockey table get a workout before the family sits down to supper and the traditional game of Dictionary that follows the meal. We laugh at silly definitions and agonize over choosing the one word from Websters that will stump everyone else.

Inside the cornstalks, we have a-Maze-ing fun.  The farm also sports a tricycle track with all size of trikes, a long bumpy slide to coast down and other amusements to keep us entertained. We frolic; Kira takes our pictures and posts our revelry on Facebook. Instantly, our friends and family know where we are and what we're doing!.
                                                      A-maze-ing cousins, Aubrey and Elle

 Besides the maze the farm had other activities:
                                                                      A slide

                           Pump race to be the first to dump the rubber duckie in the water tank

                                            Sling-shooting baby pumpkins into the pond

                                                                 Tricycle Races

Mornings we wake up to Gevalia  goodness made sweeter with shoo-fly pie and the sticky buns. Jill requests PaPa's egg scramble, and he is happy to oblige. Following this yummy start to the first day, I hand out road rally clues and send the five Okie residents out to gather memories of childhood neighborhoods and alma maters that are embedded in 'dad', my son's DNA. The rest of the family enjoy the stories from way-back-when.

After the trip to Hobby Lobby, Kira, I and the young people twist our fingers into yarn and cording as we finger-knit the beginnings of scarves and tie knots into bracelets. From the You Tube tutorial we learn how to make rubber band bracelets and mass produce these faddish trinkets. Elle's arm soon wears a sleeve of the colorful ringlets!

And then Donut Day arrives and we trek to the Great Grandparent's house where a whole slew of relatives get together to make and eat donuts all day.  Amid the loud play of littlest cousins, the adults try to converse, catching up on family news and solving common problems of parenting, aging and job challenges. The family from Oklahoma fit right in, making their Donut Day debut.  "Better than Krispy Kreme", they say!
                                                     Taking turns with the hole cutters

                                                     That's what I'm talking about!

                                                                 Donut Heaven!

                                               Grand Kids minus the two in Florida!

The last night arrives.  Josh and Kira feed their fan fantasy at a Notre Dam football game and PaPa and I get to soak up more time with the grand kid trio. We build a fire in the pit out back, briefly diluting the concentration of autumn coolness, and roast hot dogs and marshmallows for s'mores.  Inside, PaPa makes his famous stove-top popcorn, sprinkled with seasoned salt and lemon pepper. Brayden ate a huge bowlful by himself! We watch Netflix til PaPa has to go to bed. (He worked hard earlier in the day, making donuts and helping his parents clean up afterwards) We watch more Netflix and when Hercules is over, Elle wants to continue viewing something else.  Unlike other nights when the kids had faded to their bedrooms before the adults had retired for the evening, the young people were wide awake and lively.  I agreed to stay up for more fun if we played a game.  Mom and Dad got back from the game, surprised to find us awake , going strong with our Catch Phrase competition!

The next morning after a last piece of shoo-fly pie and left over doughnuts, they were on the road heading west, away!  It is all over way too quickly, and I feel the familiar sadness of a quiet house when family leaves, the let down feeling like being abandoned on the teeter totter. Then memories of happy times and getting reconnected climb aboard and balance begins to smooth the ride of opposing emotions.

Thank you, Josh and Kira, for traveling the distance to visit us.  Kira, for taking pictures when I don't want to step back from the action to capture it in pixels. Josh for your humor and appreciation of Indiana treasures. (Next time, perhaps, the adults will get in their game of Euchre and more visit time, sans kids :). Jill, Elle and Brayden for laying down the cell phones long enough to play hard and go along with the Plan, whatever it entailed. For providing fun and energy. To each of you for being the beautiful offspring I am proud to claim and enjoy.
                                                      Good bye for now! We love you!

I  look forward to another reunion in just three months at Uncle Austin's wedding, here in Indiana!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Theme Thickens


My consistency in blogging has been in question this month and for a very good reason. Earlier this spring my husband, Kevin, felt an urgency to get some family history written down, creating a recorded account for whoever might be interested. We got together with his parents once a week for almost 4 months and Interviewed. This was the beginning of a process that is now almost finished.

Kevin combined his notes from the interviews into a rough draft, chronological history in three parts: Mom's early life, Dad's early life and then their life together. I had the privilege of editing the project and am putting the finishing touches on a story/photo book I'm creating from an online company who prints hardbound books for this purpose. I've scanned old photos from Mom's albums that are yellowed and worn, and marked with hand-written titles, then uploaded them digitally to the book website. Then the fun part of manipulating them just so, so they fit onto the page alongside text that explains the history of the photos. I can't wait to hold the finished product in hand.

As you can guess this takes hours of time and the website offers deals that have expiration dates, so I try to time the publishing to the best of my advantage. So instead of blogging, I'm jogging memories for posterity.

But I'm back with an update on the Grace theme.  After my last post, my son shared a story he recently encountered that illustrates this amazing commodity we can be immersed in All. The. Time.

From his email, "Lee Strobel (a pretty prominent Christian apologist) came and talked to us a couple of weeks ago and told a story about how, a couple of years ago, he was wanting to share his faith with a co worker that he had known for a long time.  He knew the guy was an atheist but he really felt like God was telling him to go invite this guy to church on Easter Sunday.  So Lee walks over to this guy's cubicle and asks him to church.  Of course the guy was like why would I want to go to church?  So Lee starts laying out a few things about Christ and the reasons for believing, but this guy is resolute in that he is not coming to church.  So Lee walked away from that meeting like, great God, that was awesome.  Why'd you have me do that?  Lee said, "That guy is still an Atheist to this day and he never did come to church.  So a little while ago, I had finished preaching and I had a man come up to me that I had never met.  The man said, I just wanted to share my story with you, a couple of years ago, I lost my job.  I was having a really rough time and was trying to find work wherever I could.  I didn't know God and was just trying to make it on my own.  I was hired by a local business to do a random tiling job that had come up.  The owner was taking pity on me and you don't know this but I was tiling in an office and was stuck down behind a cubicle when you came up and started talking to a guy about coming to Easter Service at your church.  I heard what you said and I called my wife right then and said honey we've got to go to this church!"  Lee called that ricochet faith and I think that even if we aren't technically evangelizing, whatever interactions we are having with people, if we are being mindful of our faith and trying to share God even in just being nice, that God uses our interactions regardless of the responses we get."

Never underestimate the effect of an assignment that offers God's invitation to someone he's drawing to himself!

If I can diverse into the hot topic of politics, I'd speak GRACE to our government right now. May God raise up a voice of reason that brings mediation and peace.  How are you praying for this mess? He's given us the privilege of making a difference with our prayers.

We need wisdom and GRACE, Father.