Grandparents in training

blogIMG_7814 (2)

“Fixing” the piano bench

Do as I say not as I do.  

You may have grown up in a home where that was the norm.  Parents doled out dos and don’ts to their children but didn’t adhere to those standards themselves.  

Call it a double standard.  Call it ineffective parenting.  Call it whatever you want, a lot of human beings grow up in those kind of homes.

But I didn’t. I consider myself blessed that I had parents who were good role models, who practiced what they preached, who raised me with a strong sense of right and wrong and doing good vs. evil. 

They followed the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you shall have others do unto you.

That moral principle is one that Jesus himself taught in the Sermon on the Mount found in the New Testament book of Matthew, Chapter 7: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

My parents were law abiding, respectful of others, hard and conscientious workers, just plain good people.  They were also believers in Christ and took my sisters and me to church and Sunday School every Sunday to learn more about the Savior. 

Mom was the paramount homemaker, mother, and caretaker creating a home filled with lots of love, beauty, and delicious cooking, yet she expected good manners, obedience, and exemplary behavior from her children. I learned to strive to be the best mom I could be from her and I can only hope I succeeded. 

Dad never once complained about his responsibility to provide a good living for his family, including my grandparents, and he served people with respect and goodwill not just at his work but in our church and also in our community by holding an elected office in our local township for many, many years.

So yes, I had excellent role models. Papa and I endeavored to model good character and strong and genuine faith for our three offspring while they were growing up and we continue to attempt to be the parents God has called us to be.

But now, our roles have changed. Our children are adults and while we can still give advice when needed or opinions when asked, they must make their own decisions and their own way in the world. It’s their turn to demonstrate what they are made of.

Yet our influence has not ended. We’re grandparents for the very first time and I am even more keenly aware how we impact this dear little one who is a major part of our lives.

Our sweet little girl is growing up.  No longer an infant, she is now over 14 months old – a toddler – and learning new things each and every day.  She watches us keenly and she imitates what we do, the noises we make, what we say, how we react, and how we treat others.

So often we perform what seems like a mundane everyday task and little one, after seeing it one time, imitates what we’ve done. 

Just the other evening, I asked Papa to repair the bottom of the piano bench, which was coming loose after all of those years of cramming too much written music into it, and tighten up a wobbly bench leg.

He gathered his ball peen hammer and screwdriver, emptied the bench of the music books, flipped the bench over, and hammered the staples back into the wood. Little one was right beside him watching every step of the way.

When he turned away for an instant to grab the screwdriver, she climbed upon the bench bottom, picked up the lightweight hammer, and started ‘fixing’ the bench too.

She is a quick learner. She notices something one time and she’s on to it. She learned some baby sign language in no time. She follows directions (like ‘go find your shoes’) adeptly.  She amazes me.  And yet, this realization also gives me pause for a little trepidation.

Little one is learning how to live life by observing all that we do.  Along with her Mama, we have a huge responsibility to help steer her in the right direction.

And that direction is to teach her what is good, what is right, what is moral, but even more importantly, what is godly.

It’s a big job for any parent or grandparent in training. But we have an excellent training manual.

God’s Holy Word. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV) Or a more modern way to look at it might be the same verse taken from The Message: “Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.”

It worked for me. My parents trained me for life and I’m still sticking to the way I was trained. The Guidebook for Life (the Bible) kept both Papa and me on the right path. As we age and enter into this grandparenting stage of life and beyond, it guarantees us we won’t get lost.  

We will never find our way in material possessions and the things of this world for that path is not the best choice. Instead we have a legacy – one of noble character and ardent faith – that we strive for and that’s the most vital thing we hope to pass on to our children and now our grandchildren.

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children or grandchildren is not money or other material things…but rather a legacy of character and faith.” ~ Billy Graham

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Advertisements

The Easter egg legacy

blogIMG_0481Happy Easter!  Yes, I know.  Easter is over.   I haven’t forgotten.

I might be a tad forgetful from time to time, but I do manage to remember the important stuff. 

And for me, Easter is important.  But just because the actual day is over, doesn’t mean I can’t continue to celebrate it.

“May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten.” ~ an Irish blessing

One of the ways I celebrate this holy holiday is to continue remembering.  I remember the amazing gift my Savior provided for me on the cross.  I remember  He arose from the tomb defeating death and because of that, my real home isn’t here on this temporal earth, it’s somewhere eternal.

And this Easter, I remembered Easters in the past.  Maybe it’s true what Mark Twain said about life when he made this comment:  “What is human life?  The first third, a good time; the rest, remembering about it.”

I find myself spending quite a chunk of time now days remembering.  Maybe it’s that empty nest syndrome.  Maybe it’s because holidays are so different now than they were when I was a kid or when my children weren’t all grown up, married, and off on their own.

Or maybe it’s just my age.  Regardless, I remember.  Papa and I spent this Easter weekend with middle daughter and son-in-law in the state to the south of us.  And while it was a different Easter, it was wonderful and we enjoyed being with them for the weekend.

But I found myself remembering these things:  Easter when I was a little girl with white gloves and an Easter bonnet.   The smell of Easter lilies and hyacinths. 

 My own little girls decked out in frilly dresses, fancy socks, and brand new Easter shoes and son in Easter finery, little boy style. Easter baskets, laden with goodies and always a white chocolate cross, and egg hunts. 

Back then, we celebrated the Resurrection at Sunrise services and in worship.   Easter was a busy day full of good times, special services, and big home cooked meals.  Often because we lived several hours and many miles from our families, we celebrated the day with good friends.

When we lived in the Midwest, our church family became our family and we were very close to them.  One family in particular became our best friends.  We loved them and their three teenage daughters who became our children’s baby-sitters.  We spent much time at each other’s homes enjoying good company, good friendship, and good food and celebrated some Easters together.

During our eight years living in Kansas City, I remember receiving special delivery packages sent to us from my husband’s parents back in our home state.  The box was filled with candy Easter eggs, lovingly handmade with delicious creamy centers, dipped in chocolate, and wrapped in different colors of foil to connote each flavor – butter cream, coconut, peanut butter, chocolate, cherry, and mint.

The tasty concoctions were made by my in-laws’ church and sold as a fund-raiser for many years.  My children’s grandparents actively helped make thousands and thousands of these eggs which made the treats even more special. 

The recipes for the creamy egg centers were a closely guarded secret, but my mother-in-law received permission to share them with me, so I could give them to our Midwest church ladies fellowship group.  Our intent was to make eggs as our own fundraiser for special mission projects.

But before I could get involved in the egg-making fundraiser, my husband received a job transfer and our family was on our way to the Pacific Northwest to live.  There would be no candy egg making for me. 

Furthermore, there would be no more of those special candy Easter eggs for our family. Shortly after we moved to our new home on the West Coast, my father-in-law passed away and my mother-in-law moved to a new community to be closer to family.  She attended a different church there, so the special Easter egg deliveries to our home stopped.

But I’ve always remembered those specially made Easter eggs. That’s why the box I found in my mailbox just a few days before Easter was such an amazing surprise. 

It was postmarked from our old Kansas City suburb and the return address showed the package was from our dear friends there.  When I opened the box, I laughed out loud with delight!

An egg carton, filled with one dozen chocolate covered Easter eggs, lovingly made by hand by the Ladies Fellowship in the little Kansas City area church we so loved,  nestled inside that box.  

Yummy Easter eggs with butter cream, coconut, peanut butter, chocolate, cherry, and mint fillings!

As I cut open one and savored a bite of the creamy coconut filling, I paused to remember.  I remembered with love my wonderful mother-in-law, who left this earth 15 years ago.  And I remembered her gracious sharing of this Easter egg legacy with not just us, her family, but with our church half a country away from her. 

As I took another bite, I remembered with love and thanksgiving the enduring friendship we’ve sustained with our Midwestern friends.  Those friends have continued the Easter egg legacy there at our former church for 21 years, if I figured the math correctly.

On this best day of the year, I’m enjoying my satisfying Easter remembrances.  I fondly reminisce about beloved family and cherished friends while I taste a little chocolate covered egg, and a scripture comes to my mind.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” ~  Philippians 1:3

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Will your mark be a monument?

blogDSCN8043That Batman symbol I spied the other day really made its mark on me.

No, I didn’t run out and buy Sharpie markers and start making symbols and shapes all over my surroundings.

But I am still thinking about this issue and why we humans have this innate desire to make a mark on our world. 

For some, making a mark means achieving special recognition, making certain other people notice you.   Others might define making a mark as having an important effect on someone or something.  Some might say making your mark means you are very successful or famous.

One of the first things we learn to do when we pick up a pencil or pen as a child is write our own name, thereby making our marks.  And then we want to write it everywhere!  On paper.  In books.  On our toys.  Or in the case of my children, on furniture and walls.

It must be our way of announcing to the world,  “Hey, I’m here.  I exist.  I am!”

When I was a kid, I remember writing my name even when I was outside – with chalk on a sidewalk, in the mud, in the snow, in the sand at the beach….everywhere.

Today there are even more avenues in which to inscribe your name.   Go online and visit websites where you can learn how to write your name in different languages and you can even write your name in the stars.

Kilroy_was_here_(re-drawn)I wonder why we have this profound need to make our presence known by leaving our mark? 

I remember my folks occasionally using the phrase “Kilroy was here.”   That remark referred to a drawing and accompanying signature made popular during World War II.

Kilroy’s origin is believed to have come from American GIs who would leave the doodle and  words, “Kilroy was here,” wherever they went.  Regardless of where the doodle came from, someone, named Kilroy or not, began this fad and obviously left his visible mark to tell the world he existed and that he passed by that way once.

Do we make our marks because it’s our way of making certain that we won’t be forgotten?  What is it about wet cement that makes us want to leave our footprint, hand print, or just our name and date in it for posterity?  Why is it such a big deal for celebrities to get their names chosen for inclusion on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard?

Because we all want to be remembered.  We don’t want our names or our lives to be forgotten.  We desire to leave something of us behind – a  kind of legacy, if you will.

“Grandma says if you want to leave footprints in the sands of time, you should wear work boots.” ~ attributed to cartoonist Bil Keane

There’s quite a bit of truth in that quote.  If you want to make your mark, if you don’t want to be forgotten, if you want your name remembered, I believe you have a lot of hard work to accomplish.   Not just to be remembered but to leave a lasting legacy.

It’s easy to make your name known.  Just look at how celebrities accomplish that.  But more often than not, it’s notoriety they achieve, not necessarily a lasting legacy.

I think we leave a lasting legacy when we understand what our life’s purpose is.  Isn’t that what we’re really striving for when we want to make our mark?  We need a reason why we were placed here on earth.  We want to know that our lives mattered, that they made a difference.

When all is said and done, most of us want reassurance that we didn’t just pass through our time on earth in a quiet fashion, unnoticed and unmemorable.  We have this desire to leave proof that we were here and that our lives mattered somehow. But sadly, for many of us, the only mark we may leave is our name engraved on a tombstone.

“God has a purpose for my life.  No other person can take my place.  It isn’t a big place to be sure, but for years I have been molded in a peculiar way to fill a peculiar niche in the world’s work.” ~ Charles Stelzle

I think we’re born with this urge to find our place in the world and I think God instills that desire in us.  Christian musician Michael W. Smith sang about that in his song, “My Place in this World.”

Like Smith, I find my place through my faith.   Faith in something –  Some One –  bigger and more important than myself.  I find purpose in acknowledging my need for a Savior and I make my mark by living for Him.

That’s who I am.  I am a daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend, but more importantly, I am a child of God, a believer in Jesus Christ.

By the world’s standards, I may not seem like much.  I’m not famous, I’m not a celebrity.  I haven’t done anything particularly newsworthy.  I haven’t seen my name written in lights or even in the stars.  But I am a child of God. That is my place in this world.

Choosing to share His saving grace with others,  living life with a more Christ-like attitude, and encouraging others to seek Him is the legacy I hope to pass on to my children and their children as well. That is how I want to leave my mark on the monument of my life.

How about you?  What kind of mark are you leaving on your monument?

“Live for something.  Do good and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storm of time can never destroy.  Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy on hearts of thousands you come in contact with year but year; you will never be forgotten.” ~ Thomas Chalmers

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Counting blessings, a family legacy

blogscan0004Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year and it is right around the corner of next week.

My family and I have so much for which to be thankful.

As often happens when I think about the blessings I’ve been given, I immerse myself in the waves of nostalgia for memories that envelope my heart in gentle, caressing folds of love.

In the last years of my maternal grandparents’ lives, they resided with my parents and me.  Both Grandpa and Grandma died, within six months of each other, the year I turned nine.  So my childhood memories of them are brief but certain aspects of our life together remain vividly ensconced in my mind.

One of those cherished vignettes is sitting side by side with my grandmother in her favorite rocking chair singing hymns as we rocked in time.   Grandma may not have realized it,  but she instilled God’s Word in my heart with those “hymn sings” we shared.  She also taught me valuable life lessons through the words of those songs, one of which was to be thankful for my blessings.

I distinctly remember those song lyrics and one particular hymn has been swirling around my mind all week.  Today, this Sunday, in my book of Opportunity, Chapter 11, Page 20, we sang this old hymn, Count Your Blessings, in worship at our country church.

My husband and I worshiped God today in the sanctuary of this church  – where we were married and where middle daughter will marry her true love in a few months; where both of my parents grew up as members; where all four of my grandparents belonged; where my great-great grandparents were two of eight founding members back in 1820 – this church which was built upon ground donated by those great-great grandparents.

As I sang this well-loved tune, I thought about the legacy of my family heritage in this church.  In my mind’s eye, I envisioned my ancestors who worshiped God in that very spot all those long years ago.

But mostly as I heard those familiar musical notes, I could picture my elderly grandmother and my little childhood self in our living room at home, rocking in that special chair, and praising God as two voices – one worn, weathered, and cracked and one young, high-pitched, and tender –  sang:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

    Refrain:

    Count your blessings, name them one by one,

    Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

    Count your blessings, name them one by one,

    Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

So I am counting my many blessings and naming them one by one.  Even though this year had its challenges, I’m thankful.   One of my blessings is being the wife of my true love and mother of three amazing adults who come back to the empty nest from time to time for visits.

This past fall, our oldest daughter moved back to our nearby city from a state down south and it’s so good to know she’s within easy driving distance again.   Recently, she told me this: “I love being 10 minutes from one of my best friends, 35 minutes from my mom and dad and 10 feet from my sister!”  (They share an apartment in the city.)

Sounds like she’s very grateful and counting her blessings as well.  I’m hopeful that counting our blessings will always be an essential element in our family legacy.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com