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A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK

We had a great week in Alabama! Being with Julie and her family is always a blessing. She and David, and their children, too, are kind and thoughtful and a lot of fun to be with. Their family life is centered around the Lord and how He would have them live, and it really shows in how their children are growing up. I am sure He must be pleased.

It is so interesting to see how their personalities are developing. Benjamin is twelve and just hitting puberty. You know—the deep ((and sometimes cracking) voice, whiskers on the upper lip, suddenly shooting up in height, and all that. What a fine young man he has become! He so reminds us of David. He’s always had his father’s genes in appearance – darker skin and hair and those heavy eyebrows – but now we see his dad’s personality all over again in him. He’s quiet and laid back, always thoughtful and willing to help, very smart and yet humble, with a love for the Lord and a godly wisdom about him that is remarkable in a child that young.

Hannah is a cute mixture of prissy princess and tomboy following in her brothers’ footsteps. She wants to keep up with them, but at the same time flaunts her girly ways in their faces – mostly because she knows anything frilly and frou-frou annoys Joshua to no end! What a tease! She’s only six, but is as tall as an eight-year-old so sometimes you forget that she is still a little girl. The challenge this week was that she desperately wanted to jump off the diving board at swimming lessons but just couldn’t quite screw up her courage enough to do it. She went in there every day absolutely determined she was going to take the plunge, and then went away disappointed in herself that she couldn’t do it. In the end though, she learned to swim and on that last day swam the entire length of the pool! And learning to swim was what it was all about, so she came away proud of herself after all! We were proud of her, too! She reminds me of Julie when she was a little girl. She could be so stubborn, but in the end that stubbornness turned into strength and determination and has been a gift in becoming the woman she is today.

It is Joshua’s personality, though, that makes me laugh! He is such a chip off the old block – Boppa’s (Grandpa’s) block, that is! There is no volume switch on either one of them. Joshua and Boppa are both loud, loud, LOUD! They have the same sense of humor. They both love to roughhouse. They both would love to be out hunting or fishing. Boppa taught Joshua to make coffee when he was just a little guy so now Joshua can’t wait until he can be a coffee drinker like Boppa! (He got to have little bit for his birthday and declared up and down that he loved it–that is, after he shook the coffee creamer bottle and spilled it all over the kitchen!) He is a hard worker like Boppa and has a kind and generous heart – with a little bit of male ego thrown in to boot. He has a strong sense of what is right and wrong and is always ready to stand up for righteousness. We call him Mini-Boppa and it just makes me laugh!

It is wonderful to watch our children and grandchildren grow and to see that “little bit of me and that little bit of you” in them. We see them carrying on the heritage they’ve been handed and it makes us proud to see that little extension of ourselves and to know that someday when we are gone, a little of us will live on in them. I made a card to send to David in Iraq a few weeks ago that had a picture of the kids on the front. I had found a photo of each of them that really showed their personalities and cropped them out and then formed a new photo with the three of them together. I put “Personality Plus!” on the front of the card with the picture and then on the inside wrote this little poem:

God took the best of Julie,
He took the best of you,
A little bit of Boppa,
Grandma and Grandpa Sanchez, too,
Threw in a part of me —
The very BEST of all of us —
And made the very cutest kids
With personality PLUS, PLUS,
and PLUS!
As I watched the kids this week and thought about how Benjamin is so like his dad, or Joshua is another Boppa, or Hannah takes after her mommy when she was a little girl, I couldn’t help but think how we are to be so like Jesus.

We are made in His image, after all. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26a) Sin has distorted that image, but when we are redeemed we are made new creatures. We have His Spirit and our lives are transformed—transformed to be like Him. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)
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To be like Jesus—what would that be? His life exemplified love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—all the fruit of the Spirit. He wants us to produce that fruit and be like Him. (Galatians 5:22, 23) He became a humble servant and sacrificed Himself for us. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8) He is holy and He wants us to be holy. “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:16)
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When others look at me, do they see Jesus in me? Does my life reflect Him? Do they know I am a Christian – a “little Christ”—by how I live my life? I always loved the chorus “Let the Beauty of Jesus Be seen in Me.” It goes like this:
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Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me–
All His wonderful passion and purity.
O my Savior divine, all my being refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.
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It makes us happy when we see ourselves in our little ones. How much it must please God when He sees our lives reflecting Him!
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B IS FOR BIBLES

I am in Alabama this weekend enjoying a wonderful time with Julie’s family! We drove down Friday and after thirteen hours in the car, it was a thrill to finally pull into their long driveway and see them running across the yard to greet us! It is my first time to visit them in their new home, so it was exciting to see what the Lord has provided for them and how perfectly it fits them! They live out in the country where you can hear the cows mooing across the road and little critters appear now and then in their yard. This morning a fox trotted across their backyard carrying a squirrel in its mouth!

Their house is spacious with plenty of room for them now and later when their adoptions go through. The bedrooms are so huge I laughingly told Julie they could have ten kids and not be crowded in this house! (When I told my mom that, she said, “Bite your tongue! Don’t give them any ideas!”) They are on almost an acre and a half of land, too, so there is plenty of room for the kids to run and play outdoors. What a wonderful place to raise a family!

Yesterday was the Fourth of July and we had a great day together. David cooked hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill at lunch time, Julie made homemade meatball and cheese cannolis for supper (they’re really cannelonis, for those of you who know the difference, but we’ve always called them cannolis), and we had fresh strawberry pies and blueberry cheesecake for desserts later. I had brought new matching patriotic T-shirts for all the kids and Uncle Robbie and Grandpa (or Boppa as they call him), too. Then when it got dark, Julie gave them red, white and blue glow-in-the-dark sticks and we played hide-n-seek in the pitch black with them. The climax came when no one could find Boppa and they all got too spooked to look for him. “He’s going to jump out and scare us when we find him!” the kids declared, all huddled together as they moved in a little clump to keep searching. Grandma joined their huddle and sure, enough, when we finally found him, he jumped out and scared us, and we all screamed like little girls! That was fine for Hannah, since she is a little girl, but the rest of us embarrassed ourselves big-time!

We also celebrated Joshua’s birthday yesterday. It is actually later in the month, but he wanted to do his birthday when Boppa could be here, too. Uncle Robbie gave Joshua a triple Slip-N-Slide for his birthday, and when the birthday gifts were all opened, I pulled out an extra surprise—huge Super Soaker water guns for all the kids, and David and Boppa, too! What better way on a hot, hot, HOT muggy afternoon in Alabama to cool off than to get wet, wet, WET!

Bob pulled off a surprise of his own! Out he marched from the bedroom in his swimming trunks, white skinny legs and all! He’d thrown his trunks into his duffel bag just in case he decided to take a turn on the Slip-N-Slide! I don’t think anyone had more fun in that huge water fight or throwing himself down the length of the Slip-N-Slide than Boppa! I got a big kick out of watching my husband have so much fun. And oh, the wonderful memories that were made yesterday! The kids will always remember this Fourth of July long after Bob and I are gone!

They are really sweet kids. Benjamin is eleven now, Joshua is about to turn nine and Hannah is five. They are so loving, and very well-behaved children, and really a joy to be around. Each one of them has a kind, compassionate heart and they are so good with Uncle Robbie. He’s all excited to be with them, too! Benjamin is his special buddy. Joshua and Hannah had special toys picked out to give to him when we got here—toys that they knew he could do on his own. They all play with him and aren’t afraid to get hugged a little too hard, have their hand squished, or wipe his drooly chin.

They are especially sensitive to the things of the Lord, too. They read their Bibles every day and really know God’s Word. It astounds me sometimes, the thoughtful, mature things that come out of their mouths about spiritual things. Julie and David have instilled in them a love for missions, as well. They get excited about missionaries who come to their church, and they jump right in trying to learn as much about their ministries and fields as they can.

Julie told me about an incident that happened last week when a certain missionary came to their church. It touched my heart, and I thought I would share it with you:

Jeff and Beverly Bellamy from Bristol, TN serve the Lord through Rock of Ages Ministries. From what I understand, they try to reach youth in public schools and prisons in what they call “prison prevention.” Part of their ministry is to give out Bibles to every young person they come in contact with in those schools and prisons. Jeff said he was in a school one day and there were over four hundred students to whom he was speaking. He ran out of Bibles and some of the kids left empty-handed. He had no money to buy more, and he went away just broken-hearted that he could not supply more Bibles. He asked the Lord to show him how he might be able to ask God’s people to help out with this and an idea came to him. He began asking the people in the churches where he spoke to look at the dollar bills in their wallets, and especially notice the serial number on each bill. Each serial number begins with a letter like D or K or I. Some bills start with the letter B, and Jeff asked those fellow believers to consider checking their dollar bills when they get them for serial numbers beginning with a B and then setting aside those bills to buy Bibles for his or other ministries. “B is for Bibles,” he said. “That will help you to remember!”

Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah were so excited by this idea that when they got home they raced for their banks to check their dollar bills. Joshua had been saving up for several months for something special, refusing to spend a penny on anything else, but when several of the thirty dollars he had saved had B’s on them, he didn’t hesitate to put them in a jar for the “B is for Bibles” project. None of Benjamin’s bills had B’s, but every twenty minutes Joshua would pester Benjamin to go check his bills again. Benjamin finally told him, “Joshua! Nothing’s changed! I haven’t earned anything else, and those numbers aren’t going to magically turn into B’s!” Hannah was disappointed that she didn’t have any B bills, either. The next day she asked her mother, if PLEASE could she give some bills that didn’t have a B? “Of course!” her mommy told her, so she gave all her bills, and over the next few days somehow came up with enough change to turn the other 54 cents she had into another dollar. Now the kids are reminding their parents every time they get change at the store or a restaurant to check for B is for Bibles bills, and praying that God will send more B-bills their way so they can give them away!

I love it that my grandchildren cheerfully, generously and sacrificially give to the Lord on their own, without any prompting from their parents. I love it that they have hearts that are easily touched by the spiritual needs of others, and that they can see the value of placing the Word of God in as many hands as possible. I love it that David and Julie are doing such a wonderful job of teaching their children and leading by example. I pray that as they grow up, they will continue to grow in faith, knowledge and compassion, as well.

May we each be like these children—full of faith, loving the Lord and His Word, with compassionate hearts, generous spirits, and mindful of the spiritual needs of others. And hey! Start checking your dollar bills for B’s! I’m sure a missionary you know could use them to buy Bibles! For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:13, 14)

JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN

We live in a changing neighborhood. Our block is now approximately one-third white, one-third black and one-third Hispanic. There are times on the weekends when the boomboxes next door are blasting out rap music and the car stereos down the block are trying to drown them out with mariachi music. American flags fly proudly from two or three homes, while just as proudly a few Mexican flags fly down the block. Folks sit out on their front steps or oversee their yard sales, while their little ones play around them in their tiny yards. Others lean on cars that have stopped in the middle of the street to have a leisurely chat. Most of the time it’s a peaceful neighborhood, but there have been a few occasions when the police have shown up to break up a domestic disturbance. The homes here are older (ours is eighty years old) but most of them are in fairly good shape and quite a few of them have been fixed up with new siding and windows, etc. Bob gets frustrated sometimes because some of our neighbors leave trash around, but for the most part, it’s a decent neighborhood.

We considered moving a couple years ago. We were afraid home values were going down, but more than that, I began to feel unsafe when I was home alone. We had been having trouble with our new next-door neighbors and they had actually shot out our satellite dish just to be ornery. There were several incidents that made me nervous, including finding an eyeball in a plastic baggie in our mail slot. We had never had trouble with any of our neighbors in the forty-four years (at that time) our family had lived in this house, and now suddenly I was afraid and eager to leave. Just about the time we were going to put our house up for sale, though, a half-dozen other For Sale signs went up in yards on the block and the bottom dropped out of the housing market. We decided to wait.

Here we are, still, two years later. Many of the big old trees that used to grace the neighborhood were taken out by a tornado years ago, or had fallen to disease or old age. The city put in new trees a few years ago. I noticed just the other day how those young trees, and ours in particular, are maturing and casting a lot more shade on the lawns than they did just last year. Time passes; trees grow; neighborhoods change.

The problem we were having with our combative new neighbors disappeared when we returned good for evil. They needed a favor from us right after treating us so badly, and when we graciously (and prayerfully) helped them, they changed their tune, and it wasn’t long until they fully apologized and began to turn to us for advice or help. Many of the neighbors know that Bob is always there to loan tools or give a helping hand, show them how to fix something or give them a ride somewhere. They know our testimony, too. In a time of trouble, we pray they will come to us and we will be able to point them to the Lord.

Some of those little ones are growing up now and we are seeing a little group of kids playing outside together every day. They range in age from four or five to maybe nine or ten and among them are blonde-headed white children, Mexican kids and black-as-can-be children. They seem to be a tight little group and enjoy each other without noticing the differences in the color of their skin. Bob’s a friendly guy and when he comes and goes, if the kids are around, he greets them and stops to talk for a minute.

Last week he had to take Robbie to the lab at the hospital for some tests. As he lowered Robbie on the wheelchair lift and started to load him into the car, here came the kids. Robbie doesn’t get out much, so although these children may have seen him from a distance, they didn’t really know anything about him and they were curious. Oh, they were full of questions! Bob stood out there for twenty minutes answering their questions about Robbie and telling them some of the wonderful things about our special guy. Robbie was thrilled with their attention and grinned from ear to ear.

When they got home from the hospital the kids came a-runnin’ again. Robbie was pretty doped up by then, so couldn’t quite respond the way he had before, but again Bob talked with them for another twenty minutes before bringing Robbie in. Now he can’t step outside or work in the yard without the kids gathering around. The other day he handed them a couple buckets and put them all to work picking up trash in the neighborhood! They loved it—and so did he!

Friday night the door bell rang. You guessed it. It was our mini-neighbors. They wanted to see Robbie—and they had a present for him. Robbie was asleep, but Bob told them they could come in and take a peek. One of the little girls ran home to ask permission, and when she came back they all trooped in. Robbie woke up as they came in and struggled to sit up with a big grin. They had an old Etch-A-Sketch for him. They had taped a scrap of paper to it on which they had written “For Robby” and each scrawled their names. We took some pictures of the kids with Robbie and plan to print them and put them in little frames for the kids.

When I was growing up I always wanted to go to the foreign mission field. God’s plan for my life was on a different path, though. Nevertheless, I have always had a love for missions and believe that God calls all of us to be missionaries in our own Jerusalem and Judea if He does not send us out into the uttermost parts of the earth. Acts 1:8b says, “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We have our own mission field right here at home, in our neighborhoods, on the job and at school.

I don’t get out of the house much, even in my own neighborhood, but I am asking myself now what I can do to reach these little kids for the Lord if they are going to continue coming around to my door. The relationships we’ve been building with our neighbors are for a purpose. I may not be able to reach Spanish-speaking people in Ecuador like Laurie and Fernando do, but I have plenty of Spanish-speaking people here on my own block to whom I can be friendly, and in my limited Spanish let them know that Jesus loves them, as the Lord gives me opportunity. I will most likely never go to Africa’s shores to reach children there, but the little black kids here on my street are just as precious to Him and just as lost. The white kids on my street need Jesus just as much as any child on a foreign mission field. I have always prayed for our missionaries and had a heart for their ministries, but am I just as concerned for the mission field right outside my own front door?

I don’t know if we’ll ever move. The Lord may keep us here on Madison Avenue for the rest of our lives, or maybe someday He will lead us elsewhere. I pray that the Lord will help me to be content wherever He wants us, and that He will open my eyes and especially my heart to the mission field all around me. I’ve been pretty complacent sitting in my house, insulated from my changing neighborhood, wrapped up in my family and small circle of friends, and all but ignoring the white fields of the harvest in my neighborhood. We all ought to be convicted about that. The Bible tells us in Matthew 9:36-38 that “when He [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.”

I am praying now that the Lord will show me how I can reach out to these children for Him. May He give me a love for them and a burden for their souls, and perhaps through them someday I might even be able to reach out to their parents, as well. I am ashamed that it has taken me so long to open my eyes to the harvest fields all around me. Jesus loves them, and so must I.


Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY MOTHER

Today is Mother’s Day. My mom is out of town, on vacation in Florida with two of my sisters and my brother. We girls had a great time last Sunday, though, when we all went out to eat at a beautiful restaurant with lots of atmosphere and good food. We had such a nice time that we’re thinking we may make that our new Mother’s Day tradition – leave the husbands and kids at home the week before Mother’s Day and treat ourselves to something special!

It turns out that Bob suddenly went out of town, too, this weekend. Julie and David had a problem suddenly pop up in their house and Bob drove down to Shreveport, Louisiana to help them. Their house is still on the market and David has to leave this Thursday for Montgomery, Alabama. Of all times to discover a leak going on inside the wall behind their shower! David has to take down part of that wall, fix the leak and then repair the wall, including dry wall, stucco, and paint. David’s never done most of that and Bob felt that since he happened to have a four day weekend off anyway, and they are in such a tight spot, he should make a quick trip down there to help him. They’ll have only two days to get it done, make it look “perfect” and get the house back on the market again.

So now it’s just Robbie and me here on Mother’s Day. I’m sure I’ll get calls from Laurie in Ecuador and Julie in Louisiana, and hopefully from my hubby, too! I’ll play the harmonica for Robbie and he’ll give me lots of lovin’. It will be a fine day because I am glad that Bob could help the kids, my mom can take a nice vacation and my girls are right where the Lord wants them!

I have a terrible memory when it comes to my childhood, teen years, or even my children’s childhood days. There are certain things that stick out, though, in my mind. Many of those things are lessons my mother taught me (or tried to teach me) either by word or example.

Mom tried to teach me that naps are a good thing. She’d lie down beside me at naptime and fall asleep herself—or so I thought. I would ever so carefully try to slither down the length of the bed and sneak away—only to feel a hand grab my ankle and pull me back. Never could figure out how she did that. To this day, I still don’t like taking naps.

My mother tried to teach me to like rutabaga. That never happened, and never will—not for me or any of my siblings, either! Her idea was that at least we ought to try different vegetables. Why we had to be exposed to rutabaga so many times, though, I do not know! As hard as she tried, I never learned to like rutabaga, or brussels sprouts or squash, either, for that matter!

Mom tried to teach me to make a perfect pie crust. Nobody makes a better pie crust than my mother! The pie-making genes skipped me, though, for no matter how many times she tried to tell me, or even show me, I never did learn to make a pie crust like hers. My girls both learned that talent from their grandma, though—and so did their husbands! At least we are assured that Mom’s apple pies will continue through the next generation, even if the gift does not come through me!

My mother tried to teach me to cook anything. The day after I got my engagement ring she said it was time I learned to cook. The first thing I was supposed to cook was something simple—tacos. Well, three hours and four pounds of hamburger later (I burnt –and I mean burnt — the first two pounds) I finally had supper made. That was when she informed me that I could learn to cook on my husband.

I actually did learn many other things from my mother, though. Mom was a good whistler, and I’ve followed in her footsteps, whistling as I go about the house, or singing as I do my work. She would be the first to tell you she wasn’t a great singer, but she loved the old hymns and often sang as she washed dishes or did the other housework. My mother was naturally an optimistic and cheerful person. She had a sense of humor and would laugh first of all at herself. I’m the same way.

My mother was, and still is, a reader. Now that she has more time to herself, I would say that she is a voracious reader. She has a library of thousands of books, and her friends and family regularly borrow books from her as if she actually were a real lending library! I learned my love for books and reading from her, and I am so happy to say that both my girls and all my grandchildren have acquired that same love.

And then there were so many other things she taught me that would become lessons for life…

My mother taught me to praise the Lord in everything. Cheree and I were in an accident once when we were riding home from a winter retreat on the church bus. It was snowing hard when the bus tipped over going down the entrance ramp to the highway. No one was seriously hurt, however, and we were all taken to a nearby coffee shop to wait for another bus to come and get us. I called my mother to tell her what had happened, and as I did, I started to cry. “Why are you crying?” she asked. “No one was hurt. You should be praising the Lord!” I’m sure she must have been shaken a little by my phone call, but she did not let on to me if she was. It was a lesson she would teach me – to praise and thank the Lord always.

She taught me to love and trust the Lord. From the time we were very small she made sure we got to Sunday School, even when it meant riding the bus with us herself. She was always an example to us of faith and faithfulness and frequently would remind us of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” There is no better teacher than a role model, and my mother was that, indeed. I have always looked upon my mother as a woman of strong faith and a prayer warrior and hoped and prayed I would be a woman of faith like her.

I always wanted to be a mother like her, also. There was never a doubt that she loved us and would do anything she could to help us, but she believed in discipline, too, and we could be sure if we messed up she would be there to correct us so that we didn’t soon forget. I remember a time when I was 13 years old and I was spending the night at a friend’s house. She had done something wrong and her mother was quite upset with her. She came in and in a sweet, gentle voice said, “Now, dear, you shouldn’t have done that!” She gave her a tiny little tap with a fly swatter. My friend laughed in her face and made fun of her. I remember thinking then, as a very young teenager, how wrong that was and how I wanted to be a mother like my mother. She might spank or yell, but she disciplined because she loved us and wanted us to grow up into responsible, good people. My friend messed up her life, and as a result messed up her kids’ lives, also. My mother’s discipline paid off.

She taught us to love the Lord, and she taught us to love others, too, by her example. She is always a thoughtful friend and steps in when she sees a need with which she can help. She is generous and caring and always there for her family, and friends and neighbors, too. Her compassion for others taught me a lot even before we got Robbie, and helped to make our hearts open to having a child with special needs.

There are so many other lessons I learned from my mother – lessons on forgiveness, responsibility, perseverance, doing the right thing, standing for your convictions… She was the heart of our home, as children, and is still the frosting that holds us all together! (Bet you thought I was going to say glue, didn’t you?) I know she’s set aside photographs and special mementos for each of us to have some day. There are traditions she began in our family that still are a part of our lives and will continue through the next generations as well. Those things are precious and treasured heirlooms, but the things I will cherish most, and hope to pass on to my own children and grandchildren, are the lessons I learned from my mother.

Proverbs 31 describes The Virtuous Woman. It says, “Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:25-31) That’s my mother, and I am rising up and praising her in the gates today!

Thank you, Mom, for the lessons learned.

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Update — The day turned out to be even nicer than I thought it would and I wanted to share it with you!

First of all, the plumbing problem at Julie and David’s was not what they thought it was and they did not have to tear into a wall after all! It was a cracked drain pipe in the shower that was easily fixed in one day with no destruction to the house. That is a huge praise! Bob got to enjoy the day with the kids and will head for home tomorrow. Julie was honored in her church as “Mother of the Year” and they said some very nice things about her, presented her with a beautiful plaque and flowers, etc. I’m so glad Bob got to be there to hear that!

Then, I got to WebCam with Laurie’s family this morning and will WebCam with Julie’s family and Bob tonight. That’s even better than a phone call!

Mom called from Florida a couple times and it was good to talk to her, too. I can’t wait for her to read this blog!

The biggest surprise, though, was that my nephew Steven brought lunch and a card over for me and stayed to visit quite a while bcause he knew I was going to be alone on Mother’s Day! Isn’t that so sweet?

What a happy day!

LA QUINCEAÑERA

Sara turned fifteen this week. It’s hard to believe my first grandbaby is a young lady already. In the Hispanic culture a girl’s fifteenth birthday is very special,—a “coming of age.” Many girls from Spanish families have a quinceañera. In Roman Catholic families this would include a ceremony at the church and then a sort of debutante ball or reception. The décor at the banquet hall or home resembles that of a wedding, the girl is dressed up in a beautiful gown, she has a “court” of attendants, and so on. The father dances the first dance with his daughter, and there are other customs associated with the girl becoming a woman, such as presenting her with her first high heels and make-up. The mother will sometimes make a ceremony of putting lipstick on her daughter. The quinceañera signifies that young men may now come a-courting.
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Sara wanted nothing to do with having a quinceañera, and of course, neither did her parents! Her Ecuadorian grandparents and other family members were disappointed, though. They are no longer Catholic and did not care about the religious ceremony, but they would have loved to celebrate Sara’s quinceañera in the manner of their culture. In the end, they gave her a surprise birthday party with only the family. They hired a Mariachi band to serenade her, and her older girl cousin took her out for a fun day beforehand so they could secretly get ready for the party. She and her friends styled Sara’s hair and “experimented” with a little make-up under the pretext of “just for fun.” Her other cousin, Christian, who is almost eighteen, took some phone calls during the party from some of his fiends who wanted to come to the party and meet his cousin, La Quinceañera. “No way!’ he told them. “She’s still a little girl and you’re not meeting her!” Good for Christian! I appreciate him being so protective of my granddaughter!
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I remember so well the day Sara was born. Laura and Fernando had invited me to be at the hospital with them for the baby’s birth. I was to be not only the proud new grandma, but also the videographer, standing in a corner of the room, near the head of the bed. (Laurie was very modest and didn’t want everything taped.) They had opted not to find out before Sara was born if it was a girl or a boy. I was betting on a girl, they were thinking it was a boy. I bought a little girl’s “going-home-from-the-hospital” outfit and they bought a little boy’s outfit. Whoever lost the bet could return their outfit to the store, while the “winner” had the privilege of seeing the baby all dressed up in their outfit. What a thrill when the doctor said “It’s a girl!” She was red-faced and squalling, her nose was a little flattened and her foot curved in from the birth (temporarily), but she was beautiful! She stole my heart from the very first moment!
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I finally left the hospital around dawn and headed for home. I remember driving on a back road as the sun was coming up and a feeling a sense of “heritage” come over me. It was a beautiful experience when I became a mother, but this was something very different. When my children were born, I was focused on our little family. Now, suddenly, I was looking into the future and the generations to come. Bob and I had started something great way back when, and now we would pass on our legacy to our grandchildren and, someday, to their children. Wow! It was so awesome to realize with the birth of that precious baby girl that our lives would continue on down through the generations.
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They’ve got our genes but none of our grandchildren really look like us. Laura’s kids are half Ecuadorian and Julie’s kids are one quarter El Salvadoran so they mostly have dark hair and some of them even have brown eyes. Joshua, though, in personality is a chip off his grandpa’s block. They both have only one mark on the volume dial—loud. He loves to roughhouse and would love to be an outdoorsman like Grandpa, as well. Several of the kids, especially Gabi and Benjamin, are more creative and artistic like me. It is interesting to see as they grow how the genes from the Griffiths and Pratts will emerge. I pray none of the genetic predispositions we have for certain diseases or conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, will ever rear their ugly heads in our grandchildren, but there are some things in our legacy that we will pass on, like it or not.
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We do have a choice, though, in other areas as to what our children and grandchildren will inherit from us. Material possessions, certainly, will include things like our wedding rings, our Bibles, my books, Bob’s mule deer George who hangs proudly on our dining room wall (can you tell I am saying that facetiously?), my piano, Bob’s shotguns, and a few other odds and ends. That’s about it. There will never be a great inheritance of wealth or property to pass on, I’m afraid.
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We have a choice also in the legacy we pass on that is far more valuable than our earthly possessions. Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.” I pray that our faith and love for the Lord will live on in our children and grandchildren and their descendants. We may live our lives as an example before them, but it is up to each of them to make the decision for themselves as to whether or not they will follow Jesus. I praise God that each one in our family who is able to understand that they need Jesus as their Savior has accepted Him. Matthew, of course, is too young still, and Katie has made a profession, but Laurie says she is not sure if Katie really understands yet. We are praying that they, too, will be saved when they can truly make that decision for themselves. Then there is Robbie who is mentally like a one or two year old. I truly believe he is safe in the Lord and we will see him whole and walking, leaping, dancing, singing and talking in Heaven someday!
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There are other spiritually valuable things I would like to pass on to those who follow in my footsteps, as well. I want them to know that a good reputation and their testimony for the Lord are precious. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…” I want them to know that being responsible and trustworthy is important. I want them to be faithful, honest and loyal; generous and compassionate; wise in knowing and following the will of God. I pray that they will not only accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, but that they will also live for Him and serve Him as their Lord and Master. Someday as they look back on the influence Grandma and Grandpa had in their lives, I hope they will be able to say that they are thankful for the spiritual legacy we passed on to them.
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The Bible tells us to ”Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) and “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) We are instructed in Deuteronomy 6:6,7 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” It is our responsibility to train and teach our children and grandchildren in the things of the Lord. He gives each of us free will, though, to choose to follow or not, and sometimes we are disappointed and heartbroken when they don’t follow. If we have faithfully taught them, though, I believe the Lord will bring them back to Himself someday. Psalm 103:17 says, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.”
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Sara is fifteen now. In just a few years she will be as old as I was when I became a mother at the young age of nineteen. I hope she will have the sense to wait a little longer than that, but nevertheless, suffice it to say, it won’t be too many more years until the next generation in our family will most likely begin. I had a vision on the day of her birth of the generations that would follow in our footsteps, and of the legacy that we would pass on to them. God has been so gracious in giving us the wonderful children and grandchildren we have. We could not ask for better, for each one of them has been a blessing and joy to us. Psalm 127:3 says “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Proverbs 17:6 tells us that “Children’s children are the crown of old men” (and old women!) Our children and grandchildren are precious treasures to be cherished as gifts from the Lord. May we be faithful in guarding these treasures and leaving them the inheritance we have from Him that is far greater than earthly possessions and wealth!

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You may be interested in reading the following post, which goes well, I think with this one.