When there’s pie in a blizzard

img_6583 (3)What day is it anyhow?

Did you ever awaken after a deep sleep and be just a little bewildered about what day it is? It happens to me every so often. I open my eyes and think, “Is today Wednesday or Thursday?” Or “What is today’s date, do I have somewhere I have to be today?”

Yesterday I crawled out of bed at my usual time – early morning before dawn – to go walking with my life-long friend. Upon awakening, I knew it was Wednesday and I needed to don my walking clothes.

But what I didn’t know until I glanced out the window was that it was snowing. We walk no matter what the weather brings unless there is a deluge of rain, so I bundled up and slipped on my hiking boots.

After returning from our morning jaunt, which was so peaceful with snow gently falling, I looked at the date on my calendar because even though I knew it was Wednesday, I didn’t remember the actual date.

Seeing that it was January 9th, I remembered that it was my maternal grandfather’s birthday. And just like that (snaps fingers), memories of Grandpa came back to me.

Grandpa died when I was nine, so my remembrances of him aren’t plentiful, but I do have some treasured and humorous memories of him, like when snow fell in huge, fluffy snowflakes, he would comment, “Look at those big cakes coming down!”

I also remember stories about him that my mother – his only child – told me. Stories that happened long before I was born.

My grandfather was born back in the 1870’s (yes, you read that correctly). Having a birthday in January as he did, chances are there would be a lot of snow on the ground and it would be blustery cold on his special day.

Yesterday’s snowfall on the ninth day of January in the year 2019, 143 years after my grandfather was born, reminded me of a sweet family story about Grandpa’s birthday one year.

My grandparents were married in 1900; my mother was born 19 years later. Since she remembered this birthday story about her father, I know it was sometime in the 20’s or early 30’s but I don’t know exactly when.  

Grandpa’s birthday was on a Sunday that year and my Grandmother, who was a queen of hospitality, invited many friends and family members to their home to celebrate Grandpa’s birthday after church. In that particular year, some fortunate folks owned automobiles, but some still traveled by horse and buggy or on foot.

The day of Grandpa’s birthday party, it snowed and snowed and snowed. Cars had a hard time traversing the country roads from church to my grandparents’ home for the party. So all of the invited guests walked through the snow and cold, some for miles, to get there.

And some of them carried pies on their journey. See, Grandpa wasn’t a big fan of cake but oh, he did love pie. So Grandma asked ladies to bring pies so she could cut a piece of pie from each one, arrange them on a big plate in a circular fashion to resemble one huge pie, and present it to Grandpa for his birthday treat.

His eyes lit up when he saw his birthday pie consisting of all of those different kinds of pies. And I suppose the “big cakes” of snow continued to fall as the party continued.

I wonder in amazement about several aspects of this story. First of all, the resilience of those who lived before us comes to my mind. Snowfall didn’t stop them from attending my grandfather’s party. They trudged through deep snow carrying pies and thought nothing of it, making the best of a bad situation. Now we seem to panic when the slightest bit of snow falls. 

They could have said let’s not go, it’s snowing too much, but they didn’t. They could have decided it just was too much trouble, but they didn’t. I wonder would we walk through deep snow and blustery weather just to go to a birthday party?

No doubt they meant what they said when they agreed to attend, no matter that the snow piled up high all around. They knew the meaning of the word commitment. Are we still as committed to following through with our promises today? I wonder.

Secondly, how generous they were to all bring pies, carrying them while trudging through snow,  to surprise my grandfather. Those folks were so willing to go out of their way to bring a slice of happiness to my grandpa.

Happiness that didn’t come in a wrapped, expensive gift but instead in a home-baked goody. Why do we place so much emphasis on monetary gifts we give or receive instead of just sheer thoughtfulness? Why do we think happiness comes with an expensive price tag?

And finally, this story reminds me that often times we encounter a “blizzard” of unforeseen circumstances in life. But we must trudge through the deep “snow” and make our way to where we need to be, no matter what.

And when we finally arrive, there is something worth achieving.

A piece of happiness. A slice of joy. A portion of gladness. A wedge of bliss.

Grandpa’s birthday story is enough to make me want to eat pie during a blizzard and be thankful for both the blizzard and the pie.

“You don’t really get Jesus saying very often there’ll be pie in the sky when you die. He’s really talking about now and today, and it’s supposed to be like that. You’re supposed to delight in what’s right in front of you.” ~ Greg Boyle

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

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Family connections

blogOld photoIf you can believe all the ads on TV and the internet, more and more folks are wondering just where they came from.

Those ads inform you where you can send your DNA to have it analyzed and receive a report indicating what part of the world you descended from. I can understand why that information would be intriguing if you don’t know much about your family history.

For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated about knowing my ancestry. Shortly after Papa and I married, we purchased a family tree print which we filled out as best as we could with the limited information we had. We framed it and it has graced our living room wall for all of our married life.

Since both of our sets of grandparents passed away either when we were young or before we were even born, our knowledge of great-grandparents and further back in the family lines was very limited.

My father did possess a treasure trove of family lineage on both sides of his family and he passed that information to my sisters and me. But pertaining to my mother’s lineage, we had very little to go on beyond our grandparents.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been even more determined to find out more family genealogy but am limited with time to do so. It’s quite a task, even if you join one of the online genealogy sites. There’s a lot of misinformation, dates in error, etc. that can lead you down the wrong path and I have felt frustration over some of that.

Enter my cousin. I have one living first cousin left; all the others are deceased. My cousin’s father and my father were brothers and our families were close when I was growing up. Recently, cousin and I have had more opportunities to see one another and talk about family remembrances. And he just so happens to have done a lot of research on our fathers’ family.

A couple of months ago, my cousin came for a visit and brought along his three-ring binder full of his research, which is more extensive that what I have. He showed me how he had collected all of the information and formatted it into a binder, not just on our shared family history but on this mother’s lineage as well.

I was impressed and expressed that to him. We shared stories and many remembrances of family members long gone. Hearing my cousin’s stories – many of which I never had heard – made me even more determined to seek out more of my family history (and my husband’s as well), get it put down in writing, and prepare a similar notebook to be passed down to my children if they are interested.

But time. Or the lack of it. That is my problem. It’s been a busy season of life for us here at Mama’s Empty Nest even though I basically am retired from working outside the home and Papa is semi-retired, only working at a part-time job. Taking care of our granddaughter while daughter works takes up a good bit of my time. And there are always church activities and other commitments that also claim my free hours as well as writing this blog.

Recently, my cousin visited me again. I never imagined he would arrive with a complete surprise in his hands. He prepared a family history binder for me as a gift. Not only did he include all of his research and photographs from our shared family lineage, but he had done significant exploration into my mother’s (his aunt by marriage) family.

What an amazing gift! My cousin gleaned through ancient census reports, vital life certificates, and other information to complete my mother’s family tree. Then he printed all of his collected findings, formatted the family lineage, and placed it all in sections by family name in a three-ring binder.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

To say I am thankful for what he did is an understatement. His gift touched my heart in so many ways. I’m beyond grateful for my cousin, for the ways we have felt connected in our family ties, for the stories he has shared, for the vast amount of time he spent compiling all of the information he acquired.

My cousin gave me a treasure. A treasure I can pass on to my children in hopes they can pass it on to my grandchildren. A treasure of family connection. The past with the present. And into the future.

Just one more thing to be grateful for in my 30 Days of Thanks Giving.

 “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Grace for family gatherings

blogIMG_2113“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.”  ~ Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

Often, a quotation like the one above just hits me.  I know exactly where I want to use that quote, exactly what I will write to share on this blog, and that quote is perfect for it.

Grace. It’s what we call that little prayer before we sit down to eat the meal placed before us and no doubt, many folks will say grace before they indulge in a Thanksgiving feast.

But grace IS so much more. Grace is defined as good will. Grace means mercy; it describes God’s divine love and protection bestowed freely upon us humans.

Grace is a gift granted to us from God. But I wonder how often we willingly give that gift of grace to others? To those who do us wrong? To those who don’t agree with us? Even to members of our own families?

Thanksgiving Day arrives in just two days. And here at Mama’s Empty Nest, the holiday comes with some extended family to join us around the Thanksgiving table.

On Wednesday,  the day before the feast, 2/3 of our grown offspring will arrive from those places they call home in a different state than us. It will be a joyful homecoming for certain and a house full once more of noise and clutter and laughter and…if we’re honest…even a bit of annoyance.

When you put so many people, including young children, in one house, there’s bound to be some occurrence or someone that says or does something to put our shorts in a knot. It’s just how families are. It would be nice to think we all portray that pleasant Norman Rockwell painted family as we gather around the Thanksgiving table.

But reality says differently. Human nature reveals that someone may get their feelings hurt. Someone may insult another even if he’s unaware that he’s doing so. Someone may be so stressed by preparing the fixings for the feast that she’s a little testy with her words. Someone pays more attention to the cell phone than the people in the same room. One child may grab a toy out of another’s hands and crying results. Someone is miffed because the hot water runs out in the middle of her shower.

It happens. Disagreements, short tempers, cranky feelings. It occurs in our families because none of us are perfect. And none of us possess perfect families.

But when family togetherness goes awry,  we remember the gift given to us by a loving Father even when we are the worst offenders. We apply the balm of grace and offer up thanksgiving for our families and for the love for one another that covers a multitude of wrongs. And for the God who grants us grace.

And on this 20th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I give thanks for family and grace.

Below I hope you enjoy this amusing but poignant video about family at Thanksgiving.   

“It is delightfully easy to thank God for the grace we ourselves have received, but it requires great grace to thank God always for the grace given to others.” ~James Smith

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Tradition

photo of pumpkins

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tradition. To some folks, it just wouldn’t seem like Thanksgiving if certain traditions weren’t followed.

And that pertains to the food served on the day we set aside for thanks as well. In addition to the huge Tom Turkey that is the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast, many families serve other traditional food too.  Green bean casserole? Tradition. Pumpkin pie? Tradition. Cranberry sauce? Tradition.

When I was growing up, we celebrated Thanksgiving at one of two places – either at my parents’ home or at my aunt and uncle’s.  Tradition.

When we celebrated the holiday at my aunt and uncle’s home, just my parents and I joined them because my older sisters were already married and feasting with their in-laws. 

My mother would help out in my aunt’s kitchen where a table elongated enough to accommodate us all would take up most of the room. Dad and Uncle would sit in the front room and discuss whatever came to mind. Sometimes politics was involved because my uncle had pretty strong opinions about such things. Most likely, rather than argue, my dad would just sit and listen.

That left my cousin, who was seven years older than me, to keep me entertained while we waited for the Thanksgiving meal to be ready. We always sat in the TV room and watched the Thanksgiving Day parades on television.  Another tradition.

When my family celebrated the holiday at my parents’ home, again there were traditions that were followed. One of those was the fruit salad, called 24-Hour Salad, that my mother made and served at the Thanksgiving table. Every year. Without fail. Tradition.

I was the only one in my family who didn’t like that salad because of the vinegary taste of the homemade mayonnaise dressing. So when I began preparing our own Thanksgiving feasts after Papa and I married, 24-Hour Salad was not a tradition.

But eventually, we started our own. In addition to pumpkin pie, I make pumpkin bread. Instead of stuffing the turkey, I prepare stuffing balls that are baked in the oven. And in lieu of 24-Hour Salad, I serve another kind of fruit salad with an unusual name – Frog Eye Salad. I assure you it is tasty and I also assure you that there are no real frog eyes in this fruity salad.

Tradition. Every year.

I acquired the recipe many years ago in the Midwest when I attended a ladies retreat with a friend from church.  In a lovely retreat center, we were treated to delicious homemade meals prepared by Mennonite cooks.  They so graciously shared the recipe with those of us who thought the fruit salad – the Frog Eye Salad – was delightfully yummy.

And that’s how our own family tradition began.  I started preparing this salad for holiday dinners, especially at Thanksgiving and Easter. Our children were eager to always see a big bowl of it on the table and it became a family favorite.

When we gather for a holiday meal, the most frequently asked question when it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner is “Are we going to have Frog-Eye Salad?” We’ve even lured our son-in-law into this food tradition; he’s always happy when there is enough left-over salad so our daughter and he can take a container home.  

I’m not really much of a ‘foodie’ so I don’t even think I’ve ever shared a recipe here at Mama’s Empty Nest, so this is a first. But I’m willing to share this tradition with my readers in case you’re intrigued by the name of this fruit salad.

FROG EYE SALAD

Ingredients:

1 (8oz) package acine de pepe pasta

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 beaten egg

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice)

1 can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)

¾ cup pineapple juice from drained pineapple

3 small cans mandarin oranges

1 carton Cool Whip

1 cup mini marshmallows

Directions:  Cook acine de pepe pasta 8-10 minutes. Drain well, place in large serving bowl, and allow to cool. Boil sugar, flour, egg and the 3/4 cup reserved pineapple juice in a small saucepan until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Pour cooled, cooked pineapple mixture over acine de pepe. Stir to cover pasta with mixture. Cover and let chill overnight in refrigerator. The next morning, add crushed, drained pineapple, drained pineapple tidbits, drained mandarin oranges, mini marshmallows, and Cool Whip. Stir gently to mix completely. Chill again prior to serving.

Traditions. On this 15th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I am grateful for traditions that link us to one another. Traditions that link us to the past. Traditions we can carry into the future.

And I’m joining my family in being thankful for Frog Eye Salad.

“It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. But a thankful heart hath a continual feast.” ~ W.J. Cameron

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Slumbering thoughts

girl sleeping with her brown plush toy

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

I held something incredibly precious in my arms today.

A sleeping child. But not just any child, my first-born grandchild who is three and a half and seldom naps any more.

Her Mommy left for her early morning hospital shift, so Papa and Nana were on child care duty for the day. A busy day mapped out ahead of us. 

After breakfast, Little One got her face and hands washed, teeth brushed, dressed in her outfit for the day, put on her backpack that seems almost as big as her, and we headed out the door for preschool.

After her morning there, we picked Little One up at preschool and whisked her off to a lunch out where she got an extra treat – a special cookie. Then we stopped at one of her favorite places – a nearby town’s library where there is an amazing and huge children’s section room complete with two play areas in addition to books galore.  There she not only played and chose some books to check out, but she got to touch newly-hatched chicks as well.

After another couple of stops for errands, it was time to travel back home. Little One was so tuckered out by this time she fell asleep in the car. Still in slumber-land when we arrived home, Papa gently dislodged her from her car seat, carried her inside, and laid her on the family room couch.  Mama sat down on the love seat with a new library book to keep watch.

About 20 minutes later, Little One opened her eyes, gave a little moan, and looked at me. I attended to her by walking over to the couch, holding out my arms, and she willingly let me pick her up, nuzzling against me as I did so.

I carried her, her limp little legs dangling in front of me, to the love seat, sat down, and she was already back to sleep.

As that dear little sleeping one nestled against my chest, her silky tendrils of hair curled around my fingers. With her little arms wrapped around my neck and her downy head so close to mine, I could smell her sweet breath (still as sweet as when she was a baby) each time she inhaled in and out in peaceful slumber.  

When I tipped my head to gently kiss her forehead, my love for this child swelled and filled my heart until I thought it might burst.  I could feel her little heart beat soundly against mine and I wondered if our hearts will always be connected, no matter what.

While I watched her sleep so serenely, it occurred to me that she must feel safe and secure in Nana’s arms. What a good feeling that must be. Not too long ago it seems, I cradled her as a tiny baby, totally dependent on her mommy, her Papa, and me, her Nana.

Now she is so big and seemed even more so as she slept in my arms. So tall, so bright and articulate, so eager to learn new things, so happy to run into Nana’s arms again after she’s been away from me.

And before I know it, she will be bigger yet. Older. More independent. Off to school all day instead of just a couple of hours a couple of days a week.

As I held my dearest grandchild, I thought of my other grandbaby, who is also not a baby any more as she will turn two all too soon. Before I know it, she too will be almost too big to sleep in Nana’s arms.

The thought of it made me melancholy. Surprising tears brimmed over in my eyes when I imagined my sweet grandbabies all grown up as adults and living lives after Nana and Papa are long gone.  

I thought of my own grandmothers, the ones who never had the opportunity to see me grow up.  One I never knew since she died when I was a baby and the other taken away from me too soon when she passed in my ninth year of life. My memories of her are special but few.

Will my grandchildren remember me with as much love in their hearts that it almost hurts? The kind of love I possess for them? Will I have enough time left in my life to spend precious moments with them, watch them grow up, make memories that they hopefully will remember for the rest of their own lives?

There is no way of knowing for certain as the answer to that lies in God’s hands.

So I treasure the moments I have to spend with these adorable grandchildren of mine. Moments to make memories hopefully to last a lifetime. Moments for this Nana to remember the sweetness of these little ones before they grow up.

“No one can possess an afternoon of rain beating against the window, or the serenity of a sleeping child, or the magical moment when the waves break on the rocks. No one can possess the beautiful things of this Earth, but we can know them and love them. It is through such moments that God reveals himself to mankind.” ~ Paulo Coelho

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Million dollar concert

blogIMG_5548 (3)It’s back to school time in our area. Summer vacations are officially over with the passing of Labor Day yesterday. School buses ventured by our house early this morning.

Even though the temperature is deceiving with sultry weather in the 90’s and humidity to match, back to school days always make me think it’s the beginning of the fall season.

And believe it or not, I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that our oldest little grandchild is old enough now to attend preschool. Today is her very first day of three-year-old classes two days a week.

How did that happen? How did she get to be a preschooler already? Wasn’t it just the other day she was a tiny little babe in our arms?

She’s grown in so many ways. Physically getting taller with long curly hair. But oh, that vocabulary has progressed so much. Just the other day she informed me that a certain smell she discovered was “disgusting.”

And the things she knows and can talk about? Amazing.

Life with a three-year-old in the house proves never dull, that’s for certain. She always finds something to do or say that amuses us. Her thirst to understand how things happen or work is insatiable and we are constantly answering “why” questions.

Just the other day, Papa and I took our little one to the supermarket with us while her mama was at work. She couldn’t wait to go and on our way driving to the store, she proclaimed what she thought we needed to purchase. “Blueberries, strawberries, milk…” The list went on.

Once we arrived, she was happy to discover children-sized shopping carts. “I love this store!” she enthused while she pushed her cart around and proceeded to load it up with fruit and vegetables. When we got to the snack aisle, she picked up a bag of Cheetos and put them in her pint-sized cart.

“I want these,” she told us. “I couldn’t find them last weekend.”

She sounded so big. So adult-like. And it boggled my mind.

While shopping, we ran into an acquaintance that I rarely see. She asked if our little one was my grandchild. After affirming she was, I asked this lady if she had grandchildren yet. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree when she said, “Oh yes!”

“Isn’t being a grandparent the greatest thing ever?” I asked. “Oh, it is!!” she exclaimed back.

It truly is joy magnified. You might say my two grandchildren are the apples of my eye.  They are!  We don’t get to see our youngest one because our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter live several hours away in another state so we truly treasure time with her.

But we are blessed to have our oldest grandchild in our lives almost daily and doubly blessed to be able to spend so much time with her, watching her grow and change and develop.

One day, she gathered her Mama, Papa, and her Nana all together and instructed us to sit on the living room couch and hold hands. We complied, wondering what in the world we were in for.

She climbed up onto the piano bench and proceeded to serenade us with her own brand of piano music. Once her concert was over, she hopped off the bench, told us to clap, and took a bow.

What do you think? Were we a rapt audience or were we wrapped around her little finger? Either way, I wouldn’t trade it for a million bucks.

“What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars’ worth of pleasure.” ~ Gene Perret

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Child-like joy

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Jumping for joy in the rain

When did we start to lose that joy we felt as a child over the simplest things?

You know, that joy that comes from swirling your tongue around an icy cold ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day?

That joy that bubbles up inside of you when you watch a butterfly land on a bright yellow flower and you just have to smile with happiness?

That squeal of delight that bursts forth from your mouth when you spin round and round until you’re dizzy and fall on the ground laughing?

When did it stop? Because for a lot of us, somewhere along the way to adulthood, it did. It ceased.

Was it when we entered the teen years because we wanted to look cool instead of expressing delight in the things that we now considered ‘childish?’ Was it even earlier than that when adults told us to grow up, and stop acting like children even though we still were that very thing?

Or was it in adulthood when the realities of living in the world, taking care of yourself, and facing responsibility outweighed those joy-filled moments?  

I thought of this the other day while watching our three-year-old grandchild. We were outside enjoying a sunny summer day and she was “helping” Nana and Papa with some yard work.  As the afternoon progressed, the sun slipped behind some gray-tinged clouds that moved in when we weren’t looking.

Suddenly, it started to sprinkle rain drops. Here. There. Drip. Drop.  Then the raindrops fell quickly, leaving little splashes of water on the sidewalk and on us. Just a light and soft rain but enough that Papa started putting garden tools away in the garage and Nana escaped to sit on the front porch.

But not Little One! Oh no, she tilted her face upwards to the gently falling rain, held her arms upward, and exclaimed, “It’s raining! It’s raining! Nana, I love rain!!”

blogimg_4303.jpgShe danced up and down the sidewalk, twirled in circles with outstretched arms, and leaped into the air repeating how much she adored rain and she thoroughly enjoyed getting wet.

She didn’t scurry to get in out of the rain shower, she embraced it. She didn’t dash to obtain an umbrella, she ran with joy and abandonment through the rain soaking up every delicious drop of joy.

Because to her, it was something of joy. Something delightful to behold. Something to savor and revel in and yes, seize the moment to totally relish it.

I observed her briefly and suddenly began laughing myself as her joy became contagious. This little one was teaching her grandmother an important lesson. Joy comes from within. 

I ran inside the house to grab my camera to capture those moments of child-like joy on the face of my grandchild.

I wanted to freeze this moment in time because someday she will be a teenager, and all too soon she will be a grown-up.  Will she still feel the same way about a sudden little rain shower? Probably not.

She’ll view it as an inconvenience preventing her from whatever she wanted to accomplish. She’ll bemoan the fact that it is ruining her plans for the day. Or it’s messing up her hairstyle. Or some other reason not to find joy in the rain.

As I watched her that afternoon, a wish for her entered my thoughts that she never lose her joy or her enthusiasm for the simple pleasures of life. That she embraces life, come what may, just like she embraced the rain that day. With utter and complete joy. 

And this Nana will try diligently to model that for her and teach her to consider all things in this life with joy. 

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” ~ Richard Wagner, German composer

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Summer, baseball, and dads

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Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

With warm weather rolls around, my thoughts turn back the hands of time to summers past. Summers as a kid. How excited we were to finally celebrate the last day of school and the beginning of freedom to do whatever we wanted for the next couple of months.

Fond memories of those summer days and nights float up to the surface of my mind. And some of those memories involve the game of baseball.  My neighborhood pals and I would play baseball in our yard and often times, my father would join us. Occasionally, even my mom would get in on the fun.

My next-door friends and I tagged along to their brother’s baseball games all summer long when he played Little League and later when he played on our church softball team. Summer evenings and baseball just seemed to go hand in hand.

If I close my eyes, I can still vividly picture sitting on the porch as the sun called it a day and disappeared.  I can hear the crickets singing their chirping song and I can see fireflies (or lightning bugs as we called them) flickering across the yard.

But in the background, I hear something else during my reverie. The sounds of excited  baseball announcers’ voices coming through the screen door.  On summer evenings, Dad would listen to Pittsburgh Pirates games on the radio or watch them on TV when we were fortunate enough to have the game televised. No ESPN or exclusive sports networks back then.

Summer usually included a jaunt into the city to attend a Pirates game in person as well, first at Forbes Field and later at Three Rivers Stadium – now both baseball stadiums relegated to the past and only a memory.

Fast forward several years.  Our son played summer baseball from the time he was a young’un able to swing a bat until high school. This Mama and Papa plunked themselves down on plenty of lawn chairs and bleachers watching son from Little League through Senior League.  And one summer, Papa made time to help coach son’s team.

Summer, baseball, and dads. They fit together in my mind, especially as we near the June holiday honoring dads.   

A couple of years ago, I was charged with writing a tribute with a baseball theme to honor dads at our church on Father’s Day. I think it’s fitting to share what I wrote then since we will celebrate this special day this Sunday.  (If you’re an old-timer like me, you might notice I threw in a little reference to an old Abbott and Costello baseball comedy routine.)

***

You know, for dads, life is like a baseball game.  It’s important as a slugger to get to first base, whether you hit a single or get walked.  In a father’s life, the first base priority is focusing on the Lord.

So who’s on first? God. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

A grounder with Him advances you to second base. And the second most important thing in a dad’s life should be his wife, the mother of his children.

So what’s on second? Your wife. Ephesians 5:25 says: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

When God sent blessings your way, you slid in safely to third base. Your children are your third most important focus.  

Third base? You might have said I don’t know anything about children, but the Lord gives you good instruction in His Word. Ephesians 6:4 says: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

If you’re successful at being a father, you’ve just scored a home run.

We know Dads aren’t always perfect though. Every once in a while, you might hit a foul ball and things go awry, and you may even strike out from time to time and make an error. But with prayer and the Lord’s help, you always step back into the batter’s box for another at bat.

Just as 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, you are “on your guard; standing firm in the faith; courageous and strong.’

Maybe you just bunt, because change ups come at you quickly. But you never balk at your responsibilities as a dad. You’re not down for the count. You’re always in position, fielding problems, making double plays, and often just being the catcher.

In your families, you may think you’re just the cleanup batter. But you are so much more than that. You really are the power hitter providing for your family’s safety and welfare.

In your wife’s eyes, you’re her lead runner, pinch hitter, and relief pitcher all rolled into one because you’re always on-deck to help her.

In your children’s eyes, you’re a grand slam because you are their hero that scores big time to win the game when you relay what it means to be a believer in Christ to them.

In the Lord’s eyes, three strikes doesn’t mean you’re out because He forgives you even when you veer outside the strike zone.

When the bases are loaded, and you’re at a full count, or even if you get yourself in a pickle, we know we can rely on you to get into scoring position and take care of your family and lead them in a godly way.

Proverbs 17:6 tells us:  Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.

Yes, fathers, you are like a baseball game because to us, you are the diamond.

***

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there and may God bless you!

“A Dad is your biggest fan even when you strike out.” ~ unknown

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A little blessing

blogIMG_3918.jpgIt was like a little Easter blessing.

How often does a little one initiate a conversation about Jesus through a totally off-topic discussion?

A few days before Easter, my daughter was telling me about someone who had gotten married. My three-year-old granddaughter, playing in the room at the time, evidently was listening to our conversation.

She turned to her mommy and pronounced, “I got married!”

We smiled at Little One and her mommy asked her, “Oh, you did? Well, who did you marry?”

Little One paused for only a second or two and promptly answered, “Jesus!”

“You married Jesus?” I asked.

“Uh-huh,” she replied, “cause I love him and he loves me.”

The sweetness of her statement just melted our hearts.

But there was more.

She then asked where he was and why he wasn’t here in the house.

We tried to explain in terms a three-year-old would understand that Jesus lives in heaven, but that his spirit is right here with us, all the time, always there to help and care for us.

“But I want to see him!” she exclaimed. “He needs to come to our house!”

We attempted to explain that when you love Jesus, he takes a place in your heart, even though you can’t see him. Hard theology to understand for such a little one maybe.

But then she seemed to grasp that. “Jesus is in my heart!” she joyfully proclaimed.  “And he’s in Mommy’s heart and Nana’s heart!”

Then she ran to her Papa and tried to tell him that Jesus was in his heart too, although we had to clarify to Papa what she was saying because he had missed out on the entire conversation since he was in another room at the time.

The simple unhindered faith of a child. Isn’t that what the Lord asks us to have?

It seemed to satisfy her for a bit, but then a few moments later, she announced, “But I still want to see Jesus.”

Well, she does see him. She sees him in those who believe in him. She sees him in those of us who love her so very much, enough to tell her Jesus loves her more than we do. She sees him in our pastor when she hears him tell the children in our church about Jesus. She sees him working in our lives when we pray with her.

Later in the week, Daughter and I took Little One to a garden center that has fun Easter displays for children and those young in heart. We saw the displays of Easter bunnies, chicks, and other decorations. Little One was even brave enough to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap and get her picture taken.

But more importantly, she saw the reason why we celebrate this holiday in the final display. The real reason for Easter. The sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross and the hope of resurrection he gave us that Easter Sunday morning when the tomb his body was laid in proved empty.

And Little One got to ‘see’ Jesus – granted it was only a pretend facsimile of him but it gave her a concrete idea. And it gave us more opportunity to tell our Little One about the love of a Savior.

Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little Ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong. 

Childlike faith. I’m reminded through the eyes of my little grandchild that my faith must consist of completely trusting, without a doubt, the One who loves me and her and you so much he went to the cross for us.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com