Monthly Archives: July 2016

Summer Time and the Living was Easy for Moms

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Summer Time and the Living was Easy for Moms

It’s summer time. In May, moms can’t wait for it to arrive but right about now, they are all pining for the start of school. They are ready to be rid of send their little snowflakes back to the classroom. And you know why? They are worn out from entertaining them.

I keep humming the tune to Ella Fitzgerald’s hit, Summertime as I recall summer when I was a kid.

It was the 60’s. My mom (like all of the others) shoved sent us kids out the screen door early and locked closed it behind us. Don’t come back until lunch, she said.

The elementary school down the street offered summer recreation. In a big open room (that was not air-conditioned) kids of various aged played ping pong and board games. Outside, others circled around sandy places where marble championships were played out. On the adjacent sidewalk, girls bounced tiny rubber balls and scooped up jacks with proficiency; others jumped rope to rhymes like Cinderella Dressed in Yella and Three, Six, Nine.

Girls Playing Jacks_Photo Credit Required._State ARchives of Florida Memory

Girls playing jacks in Tallahassee. 1963. Black & white photonegative, 35 mm. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <https://www.floridamemory.com

 

There was a sandy playground with a very tall slide. It was metal – by afternoon it was too hot for our bare legs to touch. It was fast, but not fast enough, so we managed to find squares of waxed paper to sit on as we pushed off. There was a sandy hole at the bottom of the slide and our butts landed hard. One time someone fell off that slide and broke her arm. There was no lawsuit so we got to play there all the days of my childhood.

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And who was watching over all of these vulnerable children? I’m pretty sure it was a couple of teenagers. Oh, there was probably an adult somewhere, but my bets are that she was in the air-conditioned teachers’ lounge smoking doing lesson plans for the following year.

When we finally returned home we turned on the water spigot on the side of the house; it ran through the hose and we had to wait for it to cool. It was refreshing.

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Mother didn’t have play dates arranged for our afternoon; she expected us to find a shady spot to play dolls. Later in the day we played kick ball in the front yard, or badminton, using the fence as a net. We jumped on the swing set and swung so high that the legs raised up off the ground. We sang those same jump rope rhymes to the rhythm of swinging legs, propelling ourselves higher and closer to the sky.

We knew better than to say we were bored. She would put a bucket and broom in our hands and we’d be scrubbing screens and cleaning windows before you could say “child abuse”.

If there were Vacation Bible Schools I didn’t know about them. We were Catholic and there is no way my mom was going to allow the protestants to influence us with their cookies and Kool-Aid.

Speaking of Kool Aid, it was a favorite. Sweetened with sugar, I’m pretty sure it kept me alive, like a glucose IV drip. I don’t really remember eating but I’m certain we were fed.

The Popsicle Man came around most afternoons. The sound of the recorded music announced his imminent arrival and we started asking for nickels as soon as we heard it. We didn’t always get one, but it was a treat that we loved. We all sat around inspecting the color of each other’s tongues. No one wiped our faces or hands with wet wipes.

There were those magical afternoons when we loaded up and headed to Lake Fairview for a swim. The water was warm, but it was wet. Not one sign warned of alligators or snakes; we knew they were around, but I never saw even one. They had lots of room to avoid contact with humans and I think they liked it that way.

When it was finally time to come in for the day, she cycled us through the tub in our one-bathroom home (did I mention there were six of us?). The residue from kids who had played hard was apparent in the ring left in the tub. The last one out scrubbed it with Comet cleanser and we all settled in to watch some Red Skelton or Gunsmoke or whatever we my parents wanted to watch.

Yes, my mom left us a lot to our own devices, but she knew more about what we were up to than we realized. The world was big and far away, and our life was simple.

Those tired kids never had a problem falling asleep. She was smarter than any of us knew.

Moms know that tired kids have no trouble sleeping

“Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home…” Proverbs 14:1 MSG

By his grace alone (I survived my childhood summers),

lorraine

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Giving Up Wasn’t an Option

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Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. – James 5:16

I had forgiven her. I laid the offense at the feet of Jesus and left it. My dear friend had been part of something that wounded me deeply. I knew that it would take time to heal, but forgiveness was my part of the process and I’d offered it up with complete abandon.

But something was off; it was a sort of niggling in my spirit.

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I’m thrilled to be sharing this story over on Kelly Basham’s blog, Blossom in Faith. Please click here to read the rest of my story.

 

 

I Wouldn’t Wait! Confessions of a Teen Bride…

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I Wouldn’t Wait! Confessions of a Teen Bride…

We married on my 18th birthday.  I didn’t even have a driver’s license.  I’d known him for one year and he’s the only guy I ever went out with more than once or twice.  He was all of eight months older.

My parents were not thrilled about the wedding plans. There were threats that they wouldn’t come; I was their Catholic daughter marrying a Baptist boy in a Baptist church. I was too young and way too naïve. I was rocking their expectations, to say the least.

Our wedding was on a Friday night; there was a small reception at the church. A few of the ladies served cake, punch, nuts and mints.  I thought it was fabulous.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized just how plain and simple it really was, but I was in a beautiful dress that I had sewn with my own hands. I was ready to be a wife, HIS wife.

It’s interesting the things that you remember from such a significant life event. The pastor’s wife positioned my veil as my mom frantically hemmed dresses in the Sunday school room where the bridesmaids were getting ready for the ceremony. I was really glad my mother was there.

My brother Steve slipped his arm around me as I stood in the foyer and peeked through the back door into the sanctuary. In all of the hustle and bustle I remember him saying that I was beautiful. He waited with me for my dad to come and walk me down the aisle.

I didn’t hear angels sing as we exchanged our traditional vows, but a guy I went to school with named Angel sang the love theme from Romeo and Juliet. What can I say? It was the 70’s!

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When it was over, we climbed into our ‘68 Impala and drove to a car wash. Well-meaning friends and family had written all over the car with shoe polish (again, the 70’s)). There was a peace sign on the top of that car until the day we traded it. Make love, not war, people.

We drove to our little home and closed the door on the world for a week. I was completely content.

Our first home was slightly larger than the tiny houses that have recently become popular. We had purchased a 600 square foot mobile home at a price of $3,995; it came fully furnished. The sofa was so lightweight I could powerlift it over my ninety-eight pound frame.

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I felt like the queen of a castle. It was hardly majestic but it was our home. We were happy to start life together there. It was exactly what we wanted.

Over the next few years, we made a lot of decisions that we would later regret, but we have never regretted our choice to have our first child. We waited only six months to get pregnant – we were still getting to know each other, but we loved our growing family.

That simple ceremony was forty-four years ago. I suppose the odds were against us making it. We were too young, too poor, undereducated and naïve.

We started our marriage with less than one hundred dollars in cash, a fully mortgaged mobile home that began depreciating the day we signed the papers, and a car payment. Neither of us had a great job. It would be seven years before he earned an associate’s degree; thirty years to his bachelors. I never got around to college.

But we did make it and I’m convinced it is because of what we did have, mostly a legacy from our families, dysfunctional and imperfect as they were:

  • An example – Our parents were fully committed to keeping their families intact.
  • Lifestyle – Ours revolved around spending time rather than money.
  • Low expectations – We didn’t even once think that we should begin with what our parents managed to acquire in their twenty-five years of marriage.
  • Lots of siblings – We were used to sharing everything; we both came from large families and one bathroom houses.
  • Peer pressure – The couples around us were counting on us to remain a couple.
  • Hearts to serve – He did the laundry and ironing and cleaned the house after school and on weekends because his mother worked; when my sister was bed-ridden with a broken hip I got out of class early and walked two miles home every day so I could be with her when my dad left for work. Our parents taught us that families serve one another; we brought that gift into our new home.
  • Faith in God – Even when we lost faith in each other we knew that we were in his grip; that was enough when we couldn’t hold onto each other.
  • Inexperience – We didn’t bring a lot of comparisons to our bed or any other area of the house.
  • Refusing to keep score – We trusted each other enough to bring 100% most days; on the days one of us didn’t, the other picked up the slack.
  • Going to bed mad – Sometimes sleep and time are the best antidote to frustration and anger. So often the light of a new day brings clarity and peace. We learned to insert a pause and get some rest.

Everyone’s love story is different. I’m not advocating marrying right out of high school, skipping college or making babies in the first year of marriage. I guess what I’m really saying is that if two crazy, naïve and clueless kids could do it, maybe you can.

My simple prayer is that our story will encourage you to walk in his mercy, every new day and extend grace, first at home.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

By his grace alone,

lorraine

If you enjoyed this, check out another post on our crazy love.

 

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Is the Clock Winding Down for Your God-Sized Dream?

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I’m excited to contribute over on God-Sized Dreams – follow the link and then follow your dream!

With His grace,

lorraine

A Dream Realized

 

Six Things You Need to Know About Wrinkles

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Six Things You Need to Know About Wrinkles

 

She was looking intently at me when she spoke. “Grandma, are you old? Because you have lots of wrinkles so I think you are getting old.” Her beautiful blues eyes gazed directly into mine. Completely matter of fact, she innocently gave voice to her thoughts.

I continued to braid her hair, thinking hard about how to respond. I admitted to my sweet granddaughter that yes, I am getting older. I told her that wrinkles are the blessing of a long life, but I wasn’t convinced.

She couldn’t possibly understand, but my heart ached a bit as I thought of my dear friend Sandy and my younger sister Teresa, who left us before time and gravity etched the undeniable evidence of age on their precious faces. I reminded myself to be thankful for the gift of life even as I struggled with the reality of her honest remarks.

Later, as I shared the story with my husband and daughter, I began to cry. Do you know what I’m talking about, the ugly face-contorting cry you never saw coming? My little chat with her had kindled feelings I’d been trying to avoid.

Reflections of an older woman have been popping up in my rearview mirror recently. The woman I face every morning as I brush my teeth can’t possibly be me, gray hair peeking from around her ears.

I’ve never obsessed over my appearance. I put makeup on and do my hair in the morning and walk away, rarely stopping to look in the mirror again. If I remember lipstick a couple of times during the day, I’m doing well. Maybe that is why I am so shocked when the woman looking back at me looks nothing like the woman who lives inside my head.

So why did her gentle observation touch me so deeply? With a house full of grandchildren, I didn’t have much time to think about it and I pushed the thoughts down again.

A few days later, as I polished her tiny little toenails, she asked again about my age, mentioning those wrinkles yet one more time. More tears flowed, but I quickly changed the subject to the perils of red nail lacquer. She didn’t even notice as I quickly wiped them away.

When the house was once again quiet, I looked for an answer in Scripture, the only place I trust. The people who love me want to make me feel better about myself; I needed to hear the truth.

Gently, the verses washed over my weary heart:

1. Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. – Proverbs 16:31 ESV

2. Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? – Job 12:12 NIV

3. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green… – Psalm 92:14 NIV


4. Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. – Isaiah 46:4 ESV

5. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. – Psalm 37:25 ESV

6. Since my youth, God, you have taught me and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. – Psalm 71:17018 NIV

 
Six promises – one for every decade that I’ve been given. I’m encouraged, but I still have wrinkles and the hair will only continue to turn grey. Absent a change of heart I’m destined to be sad for the rest of my life!

I discovered a beautiful series of portraits by Tom Hussey of older men and women looking into a mirror and seeing their younger selves. That is how I feel. The great news is that although my body continues to age, my spirit is growing brighter and brighter.

His light shines more every year I am closer to being complete and in the presence of my sweet Jesus. Even though youth fades, the glory of his light shines brighter. These promises encourage my heart and remind me of my true value and the legacy of faith I am building.

As I celebrate yet another year, my prayer is that although they are surrounded by lines, my eyes reflect his peace; that my face, although aging, will shine with the joy of walking with Jesus for many years.

Gracefully yours,

lorraine

 “With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” – Psalm 91:16 ESV

Check out Tom Hussey’s photos here!