Archive | November 2011

Older–and Wiser?

The house is usually quiet on Sunday mornings when I write my blog.  It’s hard to write when there are people around–too many distractions, too much noise–especially when nine-month-old Amanda is one of those people!  This morning there are several people home sick, including Mandy, so it doesn’t look like I’ll get much writing done today.  Oh, drat!  Just when I was going to write about turning sixty the other day!  (Now aren’t you glad there’s no Sundays with Cindy this week?)

I’ll just leave you with one verse today.  I have always hoped that as I got older I would gain some wisdom.  Proverbs 16:16 says “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”   King Solomon chose the best gift when God offered him anything he wanted–wisdom above riches, honour, power or long life.  The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s choice and blessed him with wisdom and all those other things beside.  I’ll never have riches or power, but I pray I will be blessed with a little wisdom–for myself and to pass on to my grandchildren.

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Grateful for You

This week we had a little bit of Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving all rolled into one.  Let me back up a bit and explain:

Laurie has made it a tradition for Mother’s Day that in the years they are here in the United States she puts on, with the assistance of her daughters, an amazing “Four Generation Picnic” for my mother and me as our gift.  Several times we had it at a botanical garden, other times at a nice park.  One year, when my mother would have had difficulty walking at a park, they did a beautiful tea party for us at my mother’s condo with teapots and dainty tea cups and an awesome assortment of pastries and salads.  Laurie always goes all out with the decorations and theme, as well as delicious food.  One year the theme was “Memories.”  The tables were decorated with Victorian flowers and ceramic “antiques”—vintage telephone, camera, typewriter, etc.  The kids made us cards that recalled some of their favorite memories with Grandma and Grammy.  Another year they did a beach theme and decorated with sea shells.  Each year Mom and I eagerly look forward to what they have in store for us this time.

They did not arrive back in the States this year until the end of June, but Laurie had told her grandma and me on Mother’s Day that they were planning on doing the Four Generation Picnic for us when they got here.  The summer months were so blazing hot here, though, and we older women couldn’t handle being out in the heat that long, so it got pushed back until the weather cooled down.  By then they were traveling every week to their supporting churches, so it got postponed a little longer.  Finally this week they decided to have it no matter what—but now the weather was too cold and blustery to have it outside.  Once again our “picnic” was back at Grammy’s condo.

Picnic?  It was more like a feast!  I was banished from my kitchen the day before as Laurie and the kids prepared the food.  It was all a big secret, and when I did have to go out there I had to avert my eyes so I wouldn’t see anything.  The next day Grammy and I could not peek until they were finished decorating

Finally—“Welcome to our ‘Grateful for YOU’ Four Generation Picnic,” Laurie said as we stepped into the dining room.  The table was an impressive vision of autumnal splendor all decorated with red, gold and orange leaves.  Delicious aromas wafted from the beautiful dishes on the table.  There was a pineapple glazed ham, a casserole of party potatoes and another of corn pudding.  A spinach salad embellished with raspberries, blackberries and cranberries, as well as nuts and sunflower seeds, beckoned.  A pumpkin cheesecake and apricot/cranberry pie waited on the sidelines for dessert.

Sara proudly told me that she had made the pie, complete with little leaf-shaped cutouts from pie crust to adorn the top.  Gabi had made the cheesecake.  Melissa had helped both her sisters and did much of the clean-up.  Katie had helped with the salad and Matthew had helped stir the corn pudding.  They were so proud of their handiwork and excited about how much fun it had been.  I must confess—you would not have found more beautiful and delicious food in the fanciest gourmet restaurant!  I was proud of them, too!

After the feast the kids gave Grammy and me sweet cards they had made saying how grateful they were for us.  Laurie gave us each a lovely card, as well, and wrote a beautiful, heartfelt note inside.  And then she had a little activity planned for us.

By coincidence, Laurie and I had recently been looking over our family tree (which goes back as far as the 1400’s) and looking at old photos of previous generations (several of which were from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and went back at least five generations.  One, however, was taken sometime before 1849, in the early days of the camera.)  Laurie decided that since the decorations had been autumn leaves and trees it would be fun to introduce the kids to our family tree and help them start filling in their own family tree.  She borrowed Grammy’s original old photos and a photo album of more recent generations and showed them in pictures how the generations connected.  It was interesting and fun and the kids seemed to enjoy it.

Laurie quoted Psalm 145:4 in the card she gave me.  It says, “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”  It thrills my heart to see my children teaching their children about the Lord, just as I am sure it made my mother and grandmother happy to see their children and grandchildren following the Lord, too.  As I look back at the generations of my past, and glean little bits of information here and there about them, I can see that many of my ancestors knew the Lord, as well.

Throughout the Old Testament God told His people to teach His commandments and law from generation to generation.  He told Abraham that His covenant with him would be an everlasting covenant passed on to all his generations to come.  “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”  (Genesis 17:7)  He also told His people that when they walked away from Him, the iniquity of the father would be laid “upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” (Exodus 20:5)

Psalm 78 says, “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.  That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:  That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (vs 1-4, 6, 7)  Over and over He tells us to pass on to future generations His Word, His commandments, His greatness and His works and all that we know about Him.

Psalm 71:18 says, “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to everyone that is to come.”  I will be sixty years old this week and although I am not greyheaded (thanks to my hairdresser, that is!) it is not only my responsibility, but my privilege and joy to share with my grandchildren what I know about the Lord and living for Him.  After all, He has promised, “And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.”  (Luke 1:50)  Thank you, Lord!

Spice It Up!

Don’t you just love this time of year when once again we
start enjoying the smells and tastes of the season?  The scents of cinnamon and nutmeg fill the
air as pumpkin pies bake in the oven… the spicy aroma of chili simmering on the
stove…the sage and onion and herbs of turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven…the
delicious smells of a dozen different Christmas cookies wafting through the
house, filling us with that holiday feeling…
Umm, umm, umm!  I have a notoriously poor sense of smell when it
comes to smelling yucky things, but yummy—well, I am all about that!

My son-in-law Fernando enjoys taking a turn now and then
in the kitchen, cooking us an authentic Ecuadorian meal.  He learned to cook from his grandmother and mother.  They do not use convenience foods like we do
here in the USA.  Everything is made from
scratch.  It has been interesting to me
to see Fernando’s use of fresh herbs and spices.  When I (infrequently) use those things in my cooking,
they come straight out of the little jars in my spice cabinet.  Fernando chops up fresh chives, rosemary, cilantro,
etc. for his dishes—a delight to the senses, I have to admit.

Spices were greatly treasured in Bible times.  II Chronicles 32:27 tells us, “And Hezekiah had exceeding much
riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and
for precious stones, and for spices,
and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels;” 
Isaiah adds, “And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed
them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and
all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was
nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

(Isaiah 39:2)  The Queen of Sheba brought
many riches to Solomon, among them a wealth of spices.  “And
she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious
stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.”
(I
Kings 10:10)

Spices were important for
both their taste and their smell.  The Lord
was very specific in directing the Israelites in which spices to use in the tabernacle/temple
for anointing oil and incense.  They used
spices for burial as well.  Remember the
women who were going with spices to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body when they discovered
He was not there, but risen from the dead?

I suppose we think of sight
and hearing as our most important senses, but apparently to the Lord the sense of
smell ranks right up there with them!  I
always tease my sister Cheree about how important smell is to her.  She loves scented candles and potpourri, good-smelling
lotions and potions and toiletries, etc.  We laugh at ourselves when we buy candles.  Somehow we always come home with the ones that
smell like food!  I choose my laundry detergent, fabric softener
sheets and air fresheners for which scent I like the best.  Even our window and floor cleaners come in a variety
of scents!

The Lord wants us to be sweet-smelling for Him.  I am not just speaking about our physical scent
– the cologne we wear, or shampoo and lotions we use, but the aroma of how we
live our lives before Him and others.  Ephesians
5:2 says, And
walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an
offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet
smelling savour.” 
As Christ’s life and sacrificial death was a sweet savor to the
Father, our lives should be the same to our fellow believers and also to the unsaved
around us—a testimony that is a sweet blessing to them and to our Lord.  “For we
are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are
saved, and in them that perish:”
(Ephesians 5:2)

Bone-Tired, Heart-Happy

I woke up this morning
thinking of the Scripture verse, “And let
us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint
not.”
  (Galatians 6:9)  Love that verse, but I have to admit, I am exhausted!
The last two weeks have been wonderful as I stayed with Julie’s
children for a week while she and David were in the Ukraine, and then had
Laurie’s family join us there in Alabama for another week and was able to spend
time with all nine grandchildren at once.
That was Grandma-Heaven!  I’ve
found something, though, that my grandkids can wear out faster than a new pair
of shoes—me!!!

Whether it was having a
chorus of five or six voices and pairs of hands reaching out to me all at once
as we made jewelry together—Grandma,
would you please tie this knot?  Grandma,
help me try this on for size!  Grandma,
can I use all these beads?—
or cooking
for thirteen, or having four-year-old Matthew say, “Grandma I have a surprise
for you!” and back up to the furthest corner of the room so he can run and leap
into my lap over and over again (he may be small but he’s solid!), it was all welcome
and totally my joy, but I must confess
overwhelming at times.

Bob came on Thursday
night to take Robbie and me home.  We
stayed Friday in order to spend one more day with the entire family together,
so that morning he and I took advantage of having babysitters for Robbie and went
out on a “date” for breakfast.  When we
got back, I felt like I had been drugged!
I sat down on the couch holding the baby and had to fight to stay awake
and not drop her.  As soon as someone took
her away from me I went into Julie’s room and succumbed to the lure of her bed
and promptly fell asleep.  A little later
I woke up, moved back out to the couch and fell asleep for hours.  I never
take naps so it was totally out of character for me.  When I woke up I realized—Laurie and Julie
had taken over the cooking and the kids, Bob had come and relieved me of Robbie’s
care for a while, and suddenly I was drained of adrenaline and responsibilities
and could get some rest.  I slept half
the way home from Alabama yesterday for good measure!

Someone has said, “An
hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again. Anything longer
than that and you start to age quickly.”
I’ve always said now I understand why God gives us children when we’re
young.  If I had to chase after little
ones on a full-time basis now, I’d never make it.  I will be sixty in less than three
weeks.   There are days when I feel a
whole lot older than that!  Joshua, bless
his little heart, tells me, “Grandma, you’re not old!!  Old is like
ninety-five!”  Regardless of how old I am
on the outside, I hope I will always stay young on the inside for my
grandchildren!

There is no greater or nobler
calling than to be the molder of young minds and lives, a model of godliness,
and a minister to the needs of the children in our lives, whether it is as a
parent grandparent, teacher or friend.
In fact a grandmother is a little of all these things.  I may be weary physically, but my soul is
joyful in the privilege God has allowed me of being a mother and
grandmother.  Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for
in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
  The beautiful harvest we will reap when we do
the good work of training, influencing and guiding our children and
grandchildren for the Lord will be lives spent in glorifying, loving and serving
Him—together as a family now, and ultimately together for eternity.