Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to the Future

Crayons made the headlines, fancy schmancy pencil cases in odd shapes and all manner of collapsibility made their promising debut, and glue, scissors and rulers took center stage as retailers prepared for the yearly event. Not a single ad passed by the opportunity to tout its Back to School sale.  Only a cheap skate, penny pincher mom could pass by the new boxes of 64s and the wrist slapper bracelet rulers to insist that last year's school tools were still working fine and good enough. Oh, yeah, I was that mom more than once, but no more. Grandma's out to score some points with this year's cute, new gizmos.

We combined Daddy's birthday with a Back to School night and Grandma served supper to the kids on a Styrofoam tray plate, each section filled with kid friendly cafeteria chow look alikes: mac n cheese, grapes, carrots with dip and a brownie.  Besides each plate a paper lunch bag held a few school item surprises with a personal Happy Back to School greeting written on the front.

After the meal, we pulled out supplies to craft candy pencils. What fun!
You can find the instructions at this website I found on Pinterest:
I substituted a Sweet Tart long roll for the Rolos. (Since we've made this, I've seen  another site that gave instructions for making these, and they folded the yellow paper in 1/2 inch folds before they glued or taped it together, so it looks like the ridges in a real pencil)

I've missed many opportunities to celebrate life in little and big milestones, but I'm glad I nailed this one. Life is always about learning.  Anytime the learning process can be reinforced with  fun and curiosity is important to me. I continually pray my grand kids will enjoy learning and that their school experience will be filled with success, teachers and staff who make learning fun and friends who will enjoy the journey with them.

I've become aware of the many New Testament letters that end with the closing "...grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." There's always room to grow and more to know about Life as Christ designed it and planned for us to experience it.  So I'm praying for this growth these days, for myself, family or others who I am prompted to remember.

Back to Work.  After several weeks off, my office chair is occupied again and I'm catching up on what happened in the library while I was gone. Campus is quiet over the summer, so I didn't miss much, but it's time to hire new student workers, fix a bulletin board to Welcome Back campus returnees, set up the website calendar for the year ahead, and other first-of-the-semester tasks. "At least I like my job" helps get me going in the morning and "I like the people I work with" gives me incentive to get there, while inbox emails and urgent things to do keep me busy so I quickly transition from loving to be home to feeling that I have a place to make a difference and I can do this going back to work thing.

I turned 60 the day after I turned the calendar to August 1st. Nothing like a decade birthday to take you Back to the Past. Friends and family bring it up with outdated pictures of younger yous, cards that mock the primitive era you were born in and those ubiquitous forward emails that try to make you feel like the good old days were somehow better.

I usually discard the pesky inbox arrivals, but one this week tempted me to read it with this title line:
"How Old is Grandma?"
The reader was to guess the age of a person born before a long list of inventions and commonly used conveniences today- dishwashers, TV, penicillin, credit cards-to name a few. Then came the list of practices no longer commonly practiced like getting married before you live together, keeping the Ten Commandments...and of course the list of what items used to cost. It tacked on words that now have new meaning-grass, coke, etc. and words that didn't exist in that ancient world, like "software".
Grandma it turns out is 61 years old. And that's the HA HA ending.  What I have to say about that?  LOL!

Seriously, I have moments when I remember that my days are numbered, but I also had a moment this week where I paused in gratitude for the goodness of my life now and then. And I maybe understood a bit clearer what it means to live each day to the fullest, because no one is assured of what tomorrow will bring. Whether an infant or someone a couple decades ahead of me in years. It was one of those A HA moments where I was thinking about how confident I felt at age 18, how youth live like there is no tomorrow, and then remembering recent news of deaths, young and old. And how I know that God has a purpose in life and death and those who know him live forever, whether a short or long time here on this earth. It's a gift to be at peace with that, and if another birthday adds more wisdom and a year well lived, than our God is to be praised!

Thanks to my husband, I had some of the birthday attention you would expect at 60 years. Like this sign in the yard. But he chose a balloon that said, "Aged to perfection". Awww... And he created a treasure hunt for me where every hiding place held coins, first pennies then progressing upwards to dollar bills. Next there were 4 gift cards at $15 each.  What a creative and special man!

In the birthday package my sister sent me, she included some scrapbook/journals of my grandmother who died when my kids were still young. I've been taken Back to the Faith of a godly woman as I've read her thoughts and the sermons or poems she chose to copy or past in the stained, worn pages of the Essick Manufacturing Company scrap papers. Other pages show notes she wrote down from a sermon, maybe she had heard on the radio. Sometimes I wonder if  she wrote some of the uncredited writings herself.

Here are some excerpts:
When Joshua succeeded Moses, God gave him his presence and the Book of the Law.
"We dare not send our children forth to face life with any less.  We cannot make our children into good Christians by training them to behave.  We have to teach them what to believe.  We must pray every step of the way. We need to raise our family on our knees with a consciousness of Christ ever besides us. If they can have the background of a godly, happy home and this unshakable faith that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, they will have a foundation that the forces of hell cannot shake."  Taken from a page that was entitled Building with the Bible in the Home, by Mrs. Billy Graham.

"Christ Jesus left all of heaven's wealth
To gather through the centuries a
  a people for Himself.
He died to set men free
From sin and hell; oh, take Him now
  and live eternally.
     Wonderful words
Oh, counsels wise and wonderful
and promises that heal and bless;
The sweet perfection of His love
In joy, and peace, and righteiousness,
The great Eternal Mystery,
The great revelation of His grace."

John 3:16
"God so loved you that he gave you His Son,
God's great desire is to save us from sin, God so loved us that he gave, He came in a babe.
God was in the Son and revealed what He was, and who He was
God so loved that He was moved with compassion
God so loved us, told us to watch careful and prayerful.
God so loved he gave His son to help others."

Look for more of her musings in my next post.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Summertime Visit

She came from down south,
Brought Ian and Dominic, 4 & 2
Filled Nana's house with noise and toys
And so much fun.

She wanted to visit places of home, still in her heart, 
Local restaurants, a nearby lake we had often
Picnicked at, the Elkhart County Fair,
And a long time friend.


So we introduced the boys to these Indiana places,
Baby animals to pet at the fair, kiddie rides,
Chief ice cream cones, more than once,
Downtown Goshen, and a miniature train display.

This daughter now shops resale,
The bargain hunting gene finally showing up
Nana buys trucks and cars, while she
Finds heavier clothes for this up north weather.

The living room carpet hides during their stay,
Under the scattered puzzles, books, cars and games.
The dolls sit prettily in their carriages, 
Until the girl cousins come over.

The boys have no cuddling in mind,
More fun to roll the dollies down the stairs
And laugh at their tumble. Then back to
Playing air hockey.

Nana found a perfect sized bike for Ian,
At the resale shop, affording some cool rides
Together, around the neighborhood,
Exploring every cul de sac.

Dominic loved the swing in the neighborhood park,
Cousins threw stones in the creek there and
Climbed into the playground fort
Where Nana read a story.

We tie-dyed tee shirts in the yard,
Had a picnic in the town park ,
Tumbled with Uncle Austin
And played lots of Uno.

We listened to Bob and Larry sing silly songs,
EVERY time we were in the car, and
Nana got her fill of hugs and kisses, (and Bob and Larry!)
Carrying Dominic close, often, because he asked.

Papa got in on the fun when he came home from work,
And Daddy flew up to join us later in the week.
What a happy reunion at the airport!
Daddy's legs were swarmed with hugs and squeals.

Bedtime rituals didn't work as usual at Nana's,
There was plenty of stalling and getting out of bed
For water,  to wipe noses, to report on ouchies
And to get tucked in again.

We played hard and this Nana stayed up later,
And now that they are gone, it's quiet,
Nana is catching up on sleep and missing

Missing  Dominic's spontaneous chuckle,
The sparkle in Ian's eye at a new discovery,
And "Geard Jesus, bless this food, AMEN!"
Jesus is dear and good all in one word to Dominic.

Missing the companionship of a daughter,
Who shares my love of healthy cooking,
Starbucks coffee and games of Scrabble.
Who is kind and thoughtful and a friend I cherish.

Maybe someday we'll live closer,
But for now, we'll make the most of these times together,
And thank our heavenly Father for family and love, laughter and

Randomly Yours

Reflections on the week after our trip:

Not sure if my tiredness this week was from the trip recovery, expending energy every morning for VBS, staying up late to work on a photo project or all of the above combined. Whatever the reason, it was good to be off work and decide how I wanted to manage my time.

Bible School is lots of fun and our church puts a huge amount of creativity, expense and people power into making it a spectacular event. I was a ranch hand at the the Sonwest Rodeo, (Bible school theme) which meant I followed 3 fifth grade girls around to four different stations every morning.  We had Bible story time, and games, crafts and snacks all focused around the Bible theme for the day. It was also exciting to experience the week with my two of my grand kids.  Shawn and Aubrey came home with me after the last day so we could process our learnings and enjoy some time together.

The last scene of the skit we listened to during the week was performed the following Sunday during our worship service. All VBS attendees were invited to come up and we sang our theme songs from the week for the church.  What a great way to end it all! I pray the message from God's word enforced in so many ways this week will be stored in little hearts forever.

Bible Texts
I enjoyed reading from the book of Luke this week in my quiet time. The Message paraphrase put some thoughts into new wording for me.
Matthew 7
13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

...a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time... does this describe my practice of the Christian life sometimes? It's easy to bounce from blog to blog, take words and phrases of respected Christian leaders and make them my mantra for the week. It seems life giving to link into a Facebook article and nod my head in ascent, then file the interesting perspective into the Now I'm Smarter and Better Armed folder of all things that make me successful. It takes less time and effort than waking up an hour earlier than usual to read and take notes on Scripture passages and give vigorous and total attention to being still and listening for the voice of the Spirit.

Maybe I've bought into what crowds of people believe that God is most glorified when I'm happy and my life is going smoothly. That my prayers are all for me and the people I love. That if I follow the right righteous steps I can get my husband to love me like Christ loves the church and my children to grow up to honor me by sending us on some kind of exotic 50th anniversary trip (your likely off the hook on that one, kids, being I'm 59 and celebrating 17 years of marriage :)

I recently finished reading the book, Cat and Dog Theology: Rethinking Our Relationship with Our Master by Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison.  If cat and dog's natures could be summed up into a theology stance it might be something along the lines of , Cats believing, 'You exist to serve me', while dog's attitude is more, 'I exist to serve You'. The book promotes the dog theology as the better way for us to approach our lives before our heavenly Master. There are many good points in the book, although the analogy becomes a bit overworked.  Near the end the author gives tribute to some thinking borrowed from John Piper.  In particular, Piper's quote, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him". Am I thoroughly convinced that the best life I can live is in desiring God and His glory more than ANYTHING?

An illustration included in the last chapter of the book, tells the story about a time Floyd McClung visited with the elderly Corrie ten Boom. He noticed that she had bought some new luggage and learned that an angel had appeared to her to say that she would have 10 more years to live. The luggage was her way of celebrating. After five of those years, Corrie's health deteriorated and she was in pain and agony. She told Floyd that the angel said she was going to die.  She protested because she had not be given the full 10 years that had been promised earlier.  The angel said he was sent because God was willing to take her home early. Corrie then asked the angel which would bring the most glory to God, for her to go to heaven or for her to continue here, even if it meant living in her present painful condition. Whatever God desired would be her answer. Now there is a heart completely submitted to glorifying God! I'm not sure that would have been my response.

Unless I'm reading His Word regularly and putting it into practice, how can I even get to know Him better or know what brings him glory? May my desires be infected with the joy of His presence and learning to know His will for me.

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on."
Matt. 7:24 Msg