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To Dee

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“A noble man makes noble plans and by noble deeds, he stands.”

My grandfather passed away today. He was 93. I love him so much and will miss him. I have never lived a day without Dee in my life. He is and was a solid, loving and stabilizing presence that shaped who I am.  I’ve never thought of a world without him, but here on this day, January 10th, 2013, he’s gone and I want to honor a great man who loved me and who I loved.

Memories have flooded over me the last few weeks as we expected his Home-going.

I remember little things like the Silver Dollar Ceremony.  He and Nana had a pool in their backyard.  As each of his grandkids reached an age where we ventured into the deep end and started diving, he would say, “Let me know when you are ready for that silver dollar.”  We’d practice over and over diving down to touch the drain at the deep end of the pool until we could finally hold our breath long enough to reach it. Then we’d run tell Dee “I think I’m ready for the silver dollar!”  He’d ceremoniously bring out the silver dollar and swim down to the bottom of the deep end and put it right on the drain.  Then, with cousins, parents, aunts and uncles to cheer us on, we’d dive off the diving board and swim to the depths of the pool.  I remember feeling a moment of panic, could I do it? But determination set in.  Then, clutching that precious coin we we’d push off the bottom of the pool with all our might and crash up through the top of the water, coin-hand outstretched, and look over for Dee’s proud smile.  Such a little thing, but a right of passage we came to expect. We don’t have too many rights of passage today and I don’t know why. It gives a child such a sense of value and accomplishment when they’ve worked hard to reach a goal. I guess Dee knew that.

I remember that Dee and Nana always gave us the most unexpected Christmas gifts. They were creative and useful things that I wouldn’t have thought to ask for, but even in those gifts there was a calling up, a chance to be older. One year a fishing tackle box with hooks and bait. I loved that gift. One year a Snoopy Duffle bag. I still have it. It was perfect. I used it for my very first sleep-over.  My favorite year, Dee made home-made stilts. This is still one of my favorite Christmas memories of all time. Dee made small stilts for the little kids, tall ones for the adults.  We ran all over that yard laughing and racing and face-planting.  I am determined to make these for my kids this year. A kid needs stilts. Dee knew that.

My favorite thing to do with Dee was to go metal detecting.  To me it seemed a wonderful adventure with endless possibilities for finding buried treasure. I would ask him every time I went to his house. He’d pull out his metal detector and we’d canvas the yard. I was the “digger” and he was the “finder”.  I remember when the metal detector would start beeping really fast, I’d throw myself down at the spot and start digging. He’d take each scoop in his big hand and we’d run it under the metal detector until we found the scoop with the metal. Then he’d open up his hand and I’d rifle through the dirt until we found the treasure. In reality, we mostly found bottle caps, but that didn’t deter us.  It was fun and we were together and it is one of my most precious childhood memories.  He kept a big coffee can on his work bench in the garage with all his “finds” and every time we went over, I’d pull it out and we’d talk about all the new stuff he’d discovered.  If he found anything really special, he would take it inside to a jar in his closet. He found some neat rings and jewelry over the years, those went inside or he’d give them as a gift to one of the grandkids.   Dee went through several models of metal detectors in my life. He knew I loved it so he gave me one of the early ones, which I still have in the garage. I am going to take that to a repair shop and get it fixed so I can take my children treasure hunting in his honor.

What Dee taught me:

It strikes me that the strongest and most meaningful memories I have of Dee are from my early childhood, which makes me realize that even though I’m now 38, I never out-grew those early impressions of who he was.  This is encouraging and cautioning to me.  If I was so molded by my first 10 years, my children and grandchildren will be too.  I want them to remember feeling about me, the way I feel about Dee.  He was available, positive and present in my life. He was reliable and caring.

In my child-mind, Dee was never busy. That’s ridiculous of course because he had a large family and a thriving business but I remember him as available.  He took time to listen to me and he spent time with me. He gave me a sense of self-worth.

Dee was simple. Even though he made and lost millions in his lifetime, he and Nana were never fussy, never put on airs. They wore simple clothes, ate simple meals. He ate an orange after dinner every night a tradition I keep regularly. He worked in his garage. He drank coffee with his wife and friends. He played cards with his wife.  They kept their life simple and I always felt at ease in their presence.

Dee was hospitable.  I always felt wanted and welcome in their home. I was always greeted warmly with hugs and kisses and lots of love. They had special toys and food they kept just for us. People dropped in unannounced and were greeted enthusiastically.  All were welcome.  Their doors and hearts were always open.  They welcomed my husband into their lives. Dee liked John. He was interested in him and in his work. They talked shop and guns and business together and makes me feel good to know that my grandparents loved him.

Dee loved Nana. They were happy. They flirted back and forth. They laughed together, they played together and they worked together.  Their love stood the test of time.  When Dee spoke at my grandmother’s funeral, he called her his sweetheart. I’ll never forget that moment because it was exactly true. She was his sweetheart. I never heard an unkind word pass between them. They showed each other respect and it made a big impression on me. When my grandmother became sick with Alzheimer’s, he stood by her. He packed up his whole life and moved into a trailer outside of her nursing facility just so that he could be with her every day.  In my adult mind, this is one of the noblest acts I have ever seen.  It makes a huge impact on the way I choose to live and love my husband every day.

Isaiah 32:8  “A noble man makes noble plans and by noble deeds, he stands.”  This is Dee.

I love you so much sweet Dee. I will miss you but I’m glad you are with your Lord and your sweetheart. Thank you for everything you have made me.

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To My Girls – Your High Notes are Found in Your Low Notes

Happy Anniversary to My Sweetheart

To my sweet girls, today is our 14th wedding anniversary. I love your daddy so dearly and since anniversaries always make me feel introspective, I wanted to take a moment to write to you what is in my heart. I don’t feel qualified to offer marriage advice, especially in light of so many mistakes we’ve made, many of which you know and you’ve seen and if you haven’t yet, you will see them. But I do want to write this letter of encouragement to you first and foremost and also for anyone along the way that could be encouraged by these words.

I once had a voice teacher who loved loved loved to have me sing scales. In fact, almost our entire lesson every week was spent on scales. I am a soprano, but every week she would have me go lower and lower on the scales and every week she would say “Your high notes are found in your low notes.” It was irritating at the time, I just wanted to sing, but I knew she was trying to impress upon me something important, that the low notes were actually strengthening my vocal chords so that I could hit powerful high notes with ease.

Those words have come back to me so many times in life and are really at the heart of what I want to say to you. I love marriage. I love the idea of it and I love the reality of it, but anyone who’s been married any length of time knows that the idea and the reality of marriage are far apart most days. I look back at the years your daddy and I have been married and I blush with shame at how much we’ve hurt each other. We’ve been stupid, fought viciously, argued about the ridiculous, acted out of selfish ambition, held on to resentment, idolized unobtainable expectations of each other and quite frankly just been totally self-centered a lot of the time. Truly it hurts my heart to think about it. Daddy didn’t deserve this, I didn’t deserve it, but there it is for all to see, immaturity and sin that wounds the very one you vow to love with your life.

Amazingly though, as ridiculous as it sounds, we’ve also done everything right. Somehow, God has used all our low moments to stretch us, teach us, and strengthen our resolve to do better next time. He has allowed us to struggle together and in that struggling to overcome each obstacle that has threatened to take us down. My encouragement to you; Embrace the struggle together. Don’t give up! Remember and fight for your love. When you argue viciously, repent just as passionately. Forgive freely. Laugh often, I repeat – Laugh as much as you possibly can. It’s a choice. Laugh at yourself, laugh at the absurdity of life, laugh when you feel like crying. Nothing can take that away from you. We’ve been very poor at times but we could still laugh together. And when you hit those low notes, lift up your eyes and heart and ask God for help, He will come. Somehow, miraculously, He uses the fragile, imperfect person you married to teach you to love. True love. Sacrificial love. And somehow, the more you struggle together the sweeter that love grows. He takes all your low notes and turns them, oh so slowly, if you don’t give up, into sweet music and beautiful high notes.

To my girls – I’m so grateful for your daddy. I’m so grateful that every time he could have walked away, he stayed. I’m so grateful that he humbles himself before God to embrace this impossible challenge of staying married to me his whole life. Ha! No easy task I assure you. The impossible challenge to teach and raise 4 busy little girls into beautiful women. The impossible challenge to work his body to exhaustion to take care of us and ease our burden, all because of love. Find a man just like your daddy, don’t settle for less, and then hang on to him – he’s a keeper.

Love,
Mom

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On Yoga

I downloaded a new yoga app to my phone today. It’s awesome! It goes,
Mountain Pose (stop to answer ringing phone)
Greeting Pose (Shake baby off leg while you “breath normally”)
Downward Dog (Yell “No you can’t have a cookie before dinner!” while you “invite pleasant thoughts and realize how much you have to be grateful for”)
Deep Lunge (pull a muscle jumping up to chase toddler into the bathroom to get my phone back before she throws it in the toilet)
Corpse Pose (daydream about maintaining this pose for the rest of the night)
Ninja Pose (this is an improvisational pose I just made up to keep toddler from jumping on my stomach)
Breath Normally (pour a glass of wine, sob quietly into the arm of the sofa and order bigger clothes online).

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On Boogers

One of the best things about parenting are the fascinating conversations.  This is not sarcasm.  Nothing is Taboo with kids.  When you don’t bare the weight of social propriety, life is your conversational oyster.

Last night I had a lengthy conversation about boogers.  More specifically about one booger.  We were driving home from a pleasant evening with family.  It was late.  It was quiet.  I thought the kids had fallen asleep in the back seat when suddenly a little voice,

“Will you turn the light on?”

“Why Savannah”?

“I need to see if I got it. Yep!  Where shall I put it?”

“Put what Savannah?”

“My booger. Can I just throw it on the floor?”

“No!” (frantic search for a Kleenex begins)

“Can’t I just wipe it on my jeans?”

“NO!”  (John and I start looking around for the candid camera crew. Are we really having this conversation?)

“It’s just a small one.”

“That is not the point Savannah.  That is NEVER the point.” (I find a yellow, sticky note.) “Here Savannah.  All I can find is this sticky note.”

“Fine.” (She inserts booger into sticky note.) “Here Mom.”

“I don’t want it!”

(She’s shocked.) “What??? What am I supposed to do with it?”

“You’re supposed to hold it until we get home.”

“Can’t I just hang it on the baby’s car seat?”

Like I said – nothing is off limits, and even though I would have sworn under oath that we’d done everything possible to instill our traditional family values which are “boogers are very gross”,  we spent our entire drive home talking about the proper disposal protocol for boogers.  You just don’t get that as an adult unless you are blessed to have children.

 

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On Mercy

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

I was thinking about God’s mercy today, how it is new every morning, how it doesn’t fail.

It’s interesting isn’t it, to think that God who never changes, creates new mercy every morning for you and me who cannot be the least bit dependable even hour to hour.

I wonder why yesterday’s mercy won’t do for today?  Why does He tailor make it each morning?  Is it to get you through the day you are about to walk out?  I think so.

I think it’s a promise to bring comfort to us.  You know how you sometimes get the feeling that you’ve crossed the line – seriously – and it’s too much, to many times, to bad to ask for mercy?  Well, knowing that it’s “new every morning” means that He took all your crap into consideration and then made a brand new batch of mercy to cover it all.

The minute you slip up or screw up He invites you to throw yourself at His forever underestimated mercy.

His love never fails.

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On Poop

Poop is a really big deal in our house.  The girls are fascinated when I change one of London’s stinky diapers.  In fact, the minute I get up to go to the changing table you can feel the excitement in the air.  Mom, does she have poop?  How do you know she has poop?  Did you smell her?  Did you look in her diaper?  Are you going to change her poop?  Can I watch?  Everyone come quick! Mom is going to change London’s poopy diaper!

4 Weeks Old

I’ve observed that the fascination with poop doesn’t go away when we grow up, it just changes a little.  Instead of a poopy diaper it’s a sordid affair, it’s a pregnant teenager, it’s a messy divorce.  Everyone wants to talk about it and see it and let everyone else know what’s going on but no one wants to touch it with a ten foot pole.

Only a mother and father can care more about you than the big, fat, stinky mess you just made.  Only a mother and father can look right past that poop and say “This is my child.  I love you.  Let me clean you up and hold you close.”

London

Thank you Lord for the mothers and fathers who will come over, pick us up, carry us to the changing table and clean you up our mess.  Lord send more mothers and fathers.

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Peace is a Person

A friend sent this to me today.  I love it.  I needed to hear it.

“I had thought somewhere quiet would ensure peace. It didn’t. I was still in my skin. Peace wasn’t a place I could find on a map, or even a place that I could create. Peace wasn’t a place to live in. I came home to the noise, embraced the kids, and laughed loud and long. Peace wasn’t ‘out there.’ He was here. Peace was a Person.” A Person. He is peace. And in that knowing, our stirving can finally cease.”  ~Ann Voskamp

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