Category Archives: Family Life

I’m Really Not a Cat Person

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I’m Really Not a Cat Person

The grands left for home on Saturday, just after picking up a kitten that was to become their new pet. Unfortunately, none of us are cat people and therefore didn’t know it wasn’t a good idea to let the kitten wander around a strange yard to use the bathroom before boarding the swagger wagon.

She bolted. Almost caught. Not anywhere to be found. After thirty minutes of fruitless searching, they left without her, a van full of sad children and frustrated parents. It wasn’t the most graceful of departures, but hugs and kisses and reassurances were given that we would be on the lookout.

I doubted we would see her again, but I dutifully posted in the local Facebook lost and found animals page.

The Facebook post filled with helpful advice as the day progressed, most of which was far too much effort for a kitten I was not emotionally invested in and…I’m not a cat person.

I had just spent a week with a houseful of grandchildren I am heavily invested in and I was tired. Instead of making posters and knocking on neighbors doors, I tidied the house a bit and then “cat-napped”.

As the cat lovers had predicted, she began to meow around dusk. We crawled around the bottom of the deck, sure we were hearing her cries coming from underneath. A dish of food was strategically placed within view of a window, hoping she would venture out once we were out of sight. There was no sign of her and we went to bed because I am not a cat  person.

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These are the days that count, the evenings that we will remember. And these are three of the reasons that I depserately wanted to rescue that kitten.


I awoke to the sound of a baby crying or maybe it was the kitten? I peered at the clock.  2:30 a.m. – that was definitely a whining kitten, but weariness overtook worry and I feel asleep. After all, I’m not a cat person.

Morning came; the kitten’s crying continued. She seemed more desperate, crying almost constantly but there was still no sign of her.

Soon her cries became hoarse and weak. She had been missing almost twenty-four hours. This “not a cat person’ was getting concerned.

In full sun it was apparent she was not under the deck as previously thought. I noticed a hole in the dirt, at the corner of the deck, against the foundation of the house. Her cries grew louder as we investigated the opening.

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It was apparent she had run into an underground trench, likely forged by running water from the sprinklers. We’d found her!

Momentary relief and joy turned to panic. Hubby got on his face in the dirt and began to carefully excavate the opening. He caught a glimpse of her but the kitten retreated and went silent.

Meanwhile, I consulted with an animal-loving nephew who was giving advice via text message. He suggested we give her some time to calm down; perhaps she would venture out when she felt safe. We reluctantly walked away, and I was fearful that hole would be her grave.

An hour passed with not a sound. My earlier adrenaline rush was gone and fatigue and a bit of sadness overtook. I’m not sure why, ’cause I’m not a cat person, you know.

Neighbors popped in to offer help and I shared my concern. As we stepped onto the deck, chatting about the situation, she resumed crying.

Her voice grew louder as she ventured toward the opening.

And then, peering out of the darkness, we saw her face! She timidly approached the tuna I had placed near the opening and began to take small bites, peering at us in between.

Thankful for a twelve-year-old to navigate the narrow space, we all agreed our young neighbor was the best person to try to coax her out, most apt to be trusted by the frightened fur baby.

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We all praised the kitty, trying to be totally chill so as not to alarm her. Finally, she ventured far enough to be scooped from her hiding place.

Filthy, she’d spent more than a day down a dirty hole in the earth without food, fearful and hungry. Her fur was matted with mud and fleas. And this “not a cat person” carefully washed the squirming kitty, hand picking every flea. I cared for that kitten like it was my job, but I’m not a cat person.

Dang it.

I planned to write a warm and amusing kitten story, but the analogy just made a direct hit on my heart.

Stuff happens and I feel insecure or wounded.

I’m not appreciated.

I was left out.

I was criticized unjustly.

I’m misunderstood.

I tend to follow a natural instinct to protect myself by my own means, running into a dark hole of sorts.

I try on my own to find a safe place, quivering and loudly complaining about my situation, but unwilling to take a step toward help.

As much we wanted to help that kitten, we couldn’t until she was willing to come out of that hole.

I wasn’t deaf to her cries; they pained me. I had empathy for her predicament. But she had to show her face and take those few steps of trust.

So often I run away from the promises and reassurance that God’s got me, that he is in control of the big picture. I hide and complain instead of looking to him.

These promises came to mind as I thought about our little kitten rescue and the joy that we shared when we “not cat people” knew she was safe!


But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9 NIV


He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
Psalm 40:2 NIV


 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14 NIV


 

Can you relate? Where do you struggle to trust him, even when you are frightened by the unknown? Do you long to be known and seen and yet run from the one who knows you and loves you just as you are?

I’d love to hear how all of this landed on your heart, friends. Talk back to me in the comments.

Growing in grace to trust him with my fears and hurt,

lorraine

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Here she is, all cleaned up and waiting to be delivered to her family.

Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

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Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

treeThe sun was high, it’s beams breaking through the trees; shadows danced at my feet as the leaves and branches swayed with the gentle breeze. Though the air was cool, the jacket slipped off my shoulders, tied around my waist as I walked. It was as if the woods were drawing me in, inviting me to stay a while.

I inhaled deeply; the loam under my timid steps was damp from recent rains, rich with the scent of mud and wildflower blossoms. The river was just steps away, the color of my morning coffee and scattered with limbs downed by the weight of the past winter’s snow.

A plastic grocery bag was tucked into my pocket; it’s the season for morel mushrooms and this was a great spot to hunt. I determined to pay close attention to every detail as I wandered this plot of ground, wild and yet mere yards from a house filled with many beautiful and well-appointed rooms. Wilderness and refinement are neighbors on this Midwest homestead.

I was not alone. My cousin, a skilled hunter and woodsman, hiked ahead of me. I followed his lead as we broke the thicket and entered the deeper brush. I had slowed to take in the details. I thought he might have intentionally passed a patch of the prized morels as a test. He’s like that… a teacher and trainer at heart. It would be like him to set up an opportunity for me to succeed.

Woods collageOther family members went off in various directions. I couldn’t resist stopping for pictures of flowers, or downed logs and animal burrows. I fell behind, no longer within earshot of the crackling of branches and leaves as my companions trekked through the brush.

For a moment, a tremor of panic welled up, threatening to overtake my joy. I didn’t know my way out. While I had carefully surveyed every tree and wildflower in the shady thickets and examined hollow logs and the play of light with the curiosity of a child, I paid no attention to the direction I had wandered.

He would never leave me here, I reminded myself. And almost to the moment, he called out. I responded, assuring him I was fine, moving in the direction of his voice.

There were others in our small group and we occasionally caught site of one another, always hoping for a report of a find.

Finally we regrouped back at the trucks, driving out. We hadn’t gone far when he stopped and we jumped out again, this time walking to the end of a long thicket. “This is a good spot. I’ll clear the way for you to step in.”

Skillfully he parted the thorny, twisted branches and held them back as he led the way. He continued to coach and lead as I finally entered a clearing. Again I ventured off, exploring and searching but staying within earshot of my trusted guide.

I heard creaking overhead and looked up to see a huge log perched precariously between two trees – a widow maker, I would be told later. I wondered how many eyes were peering out, watching me as I was completely unaware of them. There was some calculated risk in this place, but it was beautiful and wild. There was no need for fear, rather awareness of potential danger.

Once home, I surveyed the scratches; they were superficial. Tick checks were conducted by buddies, since they tend to hitchhike in hard to locate places.

Later, as I lay quiet in my bed before sleep came, I reviewed my wonderful day. There were glorious reunions with loved ones, the simple joy of watching a dog work like a champ for a master he adores, and the peace found in a place of worship seated between two people I love.

I remembered the hike in the woods and I was grateful, even thought we never saw even one mushroom. As I thanked God for a walk in the woods, he used it to speak to me about my often misplaced hunt for affirmation.

“I’m clearing the way for you to step in. Just follow me. You’ll get some scratches, sure…but I’ll be just ahead of you, making a way. Call out to me; I’ll be listening for your voice and I’ll respond.

I’m giving you some space to explore; I want you to experience all that I’ve created for you. There is danger, sure. You may get some wounds, but they will pale in comparison to the beauty of walking with me.”

Friends I know he is leading me toward something new. I’m scared that I’ll get hurt. And I might. This life was not intended to be easy.

He is teaching me to think less about myself in the midst of a selfie culture.

I’ve found myself returning to the empty cistern of people to get my tank filled, looking for likes and loves and affirmation that only he can give. I’ve asked friends (while not openly because that’s just weird) to fill me up, to refuel me for service and I’ve come back empty. Every. Single. Time.

It’s not his plan. He’s the one and only one who never tires of me, who calls me beautiful and beloved. He will literally leave the entire flock and come searching for me (Matthew 18:12) as I wander, trying to find my way, sometimes getting lost in the distraction of the pretty things along the way.

He never tires of you. He is waiting for you to call out; I’m convinced he’s setting up scenarios for your success. He called to Peter to step out of the boat, knowing he would not sink as long as he kept his eyes on him!

Your salvation and honor depend on God alone. He is your mighty rock; pour your heart out to him and never fear rolling eyes or impatient sighs. He is trustworthy. Go ahead, lay it all out in front of him, your REFUGE. Follow him, even if you fear a few scratches. He’s got you and he’s got something beautiful for you just beyond the thorns.

By grace alone, I’m following into this new thing,

lorraine

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people.
Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8 (NOV)

 

Are You Decorating a Prison?

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Are You Decorating a Prison?

I settled into the driver’s seat and kissed my sweet hubby goodbye. As I backed out of the driveway, anxiety bubbled up, competing with excitement and anticipation for control of my heart. I spoke a few words aloud to stifle it. “I’m fine. He will be fine. God’s got us.”

I sipped coffee from the Tervis he had handed me moments earlier. The aroma of the caramel liquid mingled with the scent of Polo and I missed him already. Once again anxiety threatened to steal the joy of embarking on a journey I had anticipated for months.

I drove in silence for a bit, considering my penchant for imagining the worst case scenario.

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I’ve never been good at good-byes. As a child, I hid from them, usually in the bathroom linen closet. It wasn’t often that we sent loved ones on their way, but when our Hoosier grandparents loaded the car for the long trek home I was not about to stand on the lawn and watch them drive away. I quietly slipped into my hiding place, where no one was leaving. I couldn’t bear the separation.

I am absolutely sure I didn’t say goodbye when my oldest brother reported to the Navy. As preparations were made for his departure, I withdrew. With every crisply ironed article of his sailor suit readied for packing, my anxiety increased. The world was a scary place and only God knew when I would see my brother again, if ever.

Not many years later, I got married and soon after we began our family. Imagine the joy when we finally bought a brick and mortar house and made a home. I was the mother hen and my chicks were all under my wings.

My husband had noticed that I didn’t handle goodbyes well; more like I didn’t handle them. At all. He couldn’t imagine missing the chance to get a last hug and speak one last expression of love and care.

And then one day he came home with an announcement. His parents were moving to North Carolina. He would be driving the truck with their household belongings and returning home by plane.

Ya’ll, I could not even. I was distraught. Seriously. I was quite certain that I would be widowed when there was either a tragic accident involving the truck or the plane fell from the sky. I was not in the habit of throwing fits, but I threw a good one.

How would I raise our daughter alone? How could his parents think this was reasonable? Why couldn’t everyone just leave us alone in our little bubble?

In retrospect I can see it so clearly; I was a young wife making feeble, yet frantic efforts to tightly wrap my arms around all of my loves and hold them tight. I believed it was up to us to protect our family; in this case it appeared it was up to me, because everyone else had lost their ever-loving minds and thought it was a good idea for my husband to leave us.

I was not being manipulative; I didn’t have a problem with my husband helping his parents. I was genuinely anxious and fearful and wanted to hold my little family together.

Forty-five years later I’m less concerned about a traffic accident than a potentially life-threatening drop in his blood sugar.

But here’s the thing that occurred to me later that evening as I walked into a conference center filled with stunning women, as their voices and mine blended and lifted praise to the Beautiful Name of Jesus. He never called us to live safe and cozy lives. He called us to step into our calling trusting in him alone.

I listened to Jennie Allen share her surrender of “yes” to Him for ANYTHING. I looked around at the vendor booths, filled with women who had started non-profits to support children in foster care and foreign missions. They risked stepping out of safe and cozy because they knew that God was with them in the first step and every one after.

They yoked up with Jesus and heard his voice, “I’ve got this, just get into the unforced rhythm of grace and watch how I do this.”

I had tried to wall us in; my goal was to create a safe and beautiful place for us to hide. The trouble is, those hiding places become “cutely decorated prisons”[1] where we do little or nothing for the kingdom.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand.[2]

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 God’s plan is better than hiding in a closet or spinning out of control over what might happen.

The weekend was absolutely perfect. There was so much joy in every part. He is good and He is calling us out to places unknown to us but known perfectly to him. He will be with us in the first step and every one that follows.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ~ The Message

What is he calling you to, my friend? I would love to hear about your faith steps. Where is he taking you? Tell me about it in the comments, won’t you?

Finding the rhythms of grace,

lorraine

 

 

[1] Jennie Allen

[2] Hillsong United Lyrics, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

I Want a Perfect Christmas

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I Want a Perfect Christmas

Christmas Morning.

When I write the words, I alternate between anticipation and dread.

I’ve shared childhood Christmas memories here before. Christmas was a very special day in our family. There was no other like it – the mood in the house was positive and everything else was put on hold for a day.

As a child I couldn’t have known how desperately my mother must have missed her extended family, more than a thousand miles away. My focus was appropriately narrow; as a child I saw only the joy of our celebration.

I’m not so naïve anymore. I’ve been at this “adulting” thing a long time. I’ve come to realize that there are not many “perfect” days in this life.

I’ve also realized that perfect is in the eye of the beholder.

My natural tendency is to catalogue all that is not as it should be, or as it once was. That tendency is from the pits of hell and will steal your joy, friends.

If I’m not careful, I’ll note all of the imperfections that surround my normal life and my special days. I’ll stay in a funk and wonder why people avoid my joy-sucking presence.

I have known some memorable Christmas mornings. It’s tempting to long for those days and to mourn their passing, comparing every celebration to that “perfect” one. (My memory is also remarkably selective!)

This Christmas morning, my sweet hubby and I will again awaken to a quiet house. Our children have been celebrating in their own homes for years, making memories with their children. I’m tempted to long for the “good old days” rather than embracing the peace that will fill our hearts as we enjoy what has become our “new” normal.

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This is a little glimpse into our Christmas preparations – a couple more to add, but I think you get the idea. Lots and lots and lots of joy when we gather!

My thoughts quickly turn to the widows and widowers who will wake up alone this Christmas morning; the single parent who is navigating the holidays for the first time since a divorce. I remember those in military service, on mission or even in prison. People are mourning legitimate losses all around us.

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Christmas is just another day for so many who are separated from home and family.

What about that little family on the first Christmas morning? Mary and Elizabeth spent months chatting as they anticipated the arrival of their baby boys. I’m pretty sure that not one time did Mary say “I hope I deliver mine in a stable, out of town, with no one but Joseph around to deliver him.”

The first Christmas was anything but perfect in my natural mind’s eye. I’m also positive that Mary didn’t “naturally” invite dirty shepherds into her meager labor and delivery spot with a hospitable heart. But in her joy, she was able to celebrate the delivery of the promised child. He was given to her, but she knew his life was significant far beyond that stable.

Mary’s joy was not hers alone. The joy of her son, the joy of her family, was to be shared with the world. He was also OUR promise. Jesus was Christmas; the fulfillment of the promise that we never have to be alone again.

The joy he brought is not fleeting, nor is it found in perfect moments. It’s in relationship with our perfect savior.

Before you read on….

If you are mourning a loss dear one, mourn it.

Cling to the one who knows your sorrow and feels it. His word promises that he knows your every toss and turn and he catches every tear. My heart aches for you; it is your loss that has allowed me to see the frivolity of my mourning over failed expectations.

I’m praying that God bends right from heaven and kisses your cheek.

If you are like me, fighting the urge to hope for perfection this Christmas season, go to the source of joy.

Accept no imposters, avoid the cheap knock-offs that the world is pushing on your Facebook news feed.

If you long for the joy of the “perfect” day, these verses are my gift to you.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,”
Proverbs 8:30

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dried up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

And last but not least….

“I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

 Merry Christmas, friends. May your life and your joy be full.

lorraine

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Six Things I Learned About Cell Phones

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Six Things I Learned About Cell Phones

We recently took an eleven hundred-mile road trip to the land of my birth, Indiana. We were there to attend a wedding; we hadn’t seen most of our family there in two years.

On Friday night we gathered at a pond on a nearby farm for a picnic dinner. I popped up every few minutes to snap successive shots of the sunset with my phone as it colored the darkening sky.

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Later, as we all sat visiting, I frequently checked Facebook, email, Messenger and What’s App.

We returned to our home away from home and I gathered a few of my belongings before heading upstairs to bed. As I did, I stuck my phone in the back pocket of my jeans.

Upstairs, I began to prepare for bed and backed up to the toilet. As I lowered the jeans I heard a splash. Nooooooo!!!!! I quickly turned and fished my iPhone out of its porcelain bath. I wanted to dial Apple 911 but my phone was wet! I grabbed my iPad and turned to the internet for advice.

I had already made a wet phone mistake (apparently I should not have powered it off – don’t even ask why I thought that was a good idea). Google “wet iPhone”. You will find all sorts of conflicting advice. Don’t judge.

After shaking water from its few orifices I put my beloved device in a plastic container surrounded by wild and brown rice, supplied by my gracious hostess. She’s obviously more into gourmet cooking than saving phones, but it was rice. The google people mostly agreed it was the best thing to do.

I crawled into bed with my iPad. I discovered even more advice, suggesting that you should NEVER put your phone in rice because the rice kernels are the perfect size to infiltrate the headphone jack and charging port. I jumped out of bed, fished my phone out of the rice, and carefully wrapped its vulnerable lower regions in a tissue after examining them closely for evidence of rice violation.

Finally, when I felt I had done everything possible, I slept.

In the light of the new day, my sweet cousin remembered a stash of white rice she used for weighing pie crusts while they bake. I gently lifted the phone, with its protective sheath, from the brown rice and placed it carefully into the white rice. I was confident I was taking every measure to ensure it would dry out safely. I didn’t even consider attempting to power it up. I would wait forty-eight hours, like the good people of Google mostly recommend.

Thankfully my husband had his phone, so we still had Siri to guide us as we traveled to visit a friend and later to the wedding. We returned home late that evening, and I paused as I passed by the rice filled resting place and resisted the urge to test my phone. Forty-eight hours. Show some restraint, woman.

Sunday evening, as we headed to bed, hubby suggested I might check my phone – we had reached the magical forty-eight-hour mark. Thinking about the late hour and hoping the phone gods would take note and reward my self-control, I decided a few more hours nestled in rice would be an unselfish act on my part. I left it alone.

Monday morning dawned. I was optimistic. I had done everything the Google people told me and I took my beautiful rose iPhone 6s from its rice bed. I tried to power it up; nothing. I plugged it into the charger, thinking perhaps the battery was low. Nothing.

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Not one to give up, I found a guy, a guy who had resurrection power. Well, sort of. Like maybe a 50/50 chance he could revive my precious phone for a cost of around $300. I didn’t like the odds. It was approximately noon on Monday, September 19th when we called it. My phone was dead by drowning.

We talked about arranging to replace my phone but oddly, I was not in a panicked rush. Weird, right? Once I got over the “I am so disconnected” anxiety I moved into the freedom of it. I missed my phone, but I could wait.

Saturday morning, just over a week after my phone took the plunge, I had a replacement in my hands. Thanks to faithfully backing up to the cloud, I was able to restore all of my data and lost only a few pictures from that fateful Friday.

I’m not one to make an expensive mistake in vain. I’ve learned a few things that are worthy of sharing:

    • Never, ever, again will I put my phone in my back pocket.
    • Not everything you read on Google is accurate (as if).
    • My stress dials back significantly when I have some distance from my phone.
    • I should use settings to reduce the number and volume of alerts.
    • 75% of what is on my Facebook feed is drivel
    • Never be a smarty pants about your unblemished phone. “First pride, then the crash- the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

 

In addition to all of that, I recognized the value of stepping away for bits of time.

I’m weary in spite of getting plenty of sleep. I finally understand it’s not sleep that my body longs for; rather it needs restful periods of quiet reflection; moments to listen and focus on my heart and His voice.

Rest is something to be surrendered to, to embrace. It is not a luxury but it does have great value. Spending my spare moments immersed in social media is akin to trading the harmonious notes of a symphony for the scraping of nails on a chalkboard.

I’m trying. The problem is real – I find myself reaching for my phone like a two pack a day smoker reaches for cigarettes. I’m committed to making the better choice; for my soul and for my relationships.

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Share with me in the comments how you manage addiction to devices. I’d love to hear from you!

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. ~ Psalm 116:7

 Grace upon grace,

lorraine

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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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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

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Your Life is a Crock

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Untitled design (1)My daughter has a big family by some standards. There are six children. Three of them are in diapers and are considered “special needs”. In addition there is a sassy five year old girl, a sensitive eight year old boy and an almost twelve year old boy who is introducing his parents to the joys of living with a tween.

They are a foster and adoptive family; they have opened their hearts and home and doubled their family in the past three years. As with any acquisition and development endeavor there have been hurdles and a few obstacles but they’ve managed this like they are the boss of it. And yet, they have repeatedly insisted that they are the boss of nothing (well, maybe that sassy five year old!).

Fostering fosters uncertainty. I’m an observer, albeit a much invested observer. I love every one of these children; I’m their grandma, after all. Even from my perspective, it is very difficult to know that our future with some of them is literally in the hands of case workers and ultimately a judge. We pray and wait for adoptions, holding our breath at times because nothing is certain. I can only imagine the reality of that to my daughter and son-in-law. However, they would be quick to tell you that they signed up for this.

When my husband and I get together with friends, everyone pulls out their cell phones to share pictures of their latest grandchild. Last weekend, I was excited to share a picture of two children who recently joined my daughter’s family, pushing the count to eight.

One of our friends asked a fair question. “Really?  Isn’t that a lot, maybe too many? How do they manage all of that?

I have to admit that when I got the text that they were adding to the headcount short term, I thought about how much work they were adding to their load. I considered logistics.  I wondered how these children would fit into the daily ebb and flow of life for this family.

Then I tried putting myself in the place of the two children. After living in one foster home for months, they were now moving to yet another strange place, with strange people. Uncertainty was thrust upon them. They, along with garbage bags stuffed with their belongings, were loaded up by a case worker and brought to their new home.

They must have had questions. Where will I sleep? Will they be kind? Are there other kids to play with? Will they understand that I need to sleep with a light on? What if they make me eat broccoli?

The best news is that these children will be reunited with mom soon. When?  The exact date is to be determined.  There are so many factors and dependencies; the only thing that is certain is today. But they are doing well, all things considered. Uncertainty has been their way of life for a while.

For now they will wake up every morning in a comfy bed and be fed and dressed in clean clothes. Whether they are put on a bus or driven to school, they know that they will return to a home that houses a loving family.  They will eat a home-cooked dinner and they will go to bed clean with prayers spoken over them. That is certain.

So, back to the question that begs to be answered: “How?”  I also marvel at how some people seem to have the capacity for so much. I asked the question. How is it that the same person who was once a fully extended new mom of one can now successfully mother eight children?

Her answer was so simple that I have continued to think about it weeks later.  “We always perceive that we are currently ‘at capacity’. The truth is that when we live with open arms, we not only receive more opportunities to serve; our capacity increases.”

There was a widow whose husband left her with a mountain of debt and two sons. She had no means; she lacked the capacity to repay the creditors who would soon seize her sons as slaves. Her only asset was a small bottle of olive oil.

This widow was a realist. She knew her limited capacity and certainly her circumstances. She cried out to the prophet Elisha and he gave her instructions to begin pouring oil into every container she could get her hands on. “Ask your neighbors and don’t ask for just a few.” (2 Kings 4:1-7)

Once she and her sons gathered the containers, she began to pour into each of the containers, one by one, from her small jar. Miraculously, the tiny crock of oil didn’t run dry until there were no more containers to pour into.

Limited Supply

My heart quickens as the Holy Spirit reveals to my heart what my ears have been hearing from the mouth of my petite but oh so wise daughter.  My life is a tiny crock of oil.

If I hoard it, I will never have any more than what that petite bottle will hold. It is when I open my arms, when I begin to find people to pour into, that I see the true capacity of my life. As it is poured into others, the capacity increases.

To be sure, there are some difficult choices to be made.  People who live with open arms have their arms full.  They have often had to let go of something in order to have the freedom to turn toward a call to serve and fully embrace it.

That tiny jar of oil had amazing, even miraculous supply. The resource was there all along, but it was only when she began to pour from it that she could truly know its capacity.

Where is God calling us to trust Him to reveal and release His capacity in our lives?

 

 

 

 

But Momma I Dont Want to be Kind

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Phoebe Fish FaceShe was still clutching her lovey. Her long ginger curls were tangled and falling around the shoulders of her nightgown as she quietly entered the room.

Her younger brother, already involved in play, looked up from his cars and loudly exclaimed “Good morning!” She rolled her eyes and kept walking.

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Mom was nearby and in a flash she was there, challenging the five year old to find kindness in her heart and respond appropriately to her brother’s greeting.

An epic stand-off ensued. Allowed some time to sit nearby and choose a change of heart, she was not budging.

But Momma was not backing down either.

After a few tears and a stretch of quiet time in her room, she returned and managed to speak to her brother with respect (if not enthusiasm). Momma hugged her briefly and asked what she’d like for breakfast. It was a lesson and it was done.

The stubborn momma is my daughter.

Honestly, I busied myself nearby as I mentally composed a short list of compelling reasons to justify my granddaughter’s annoyance with her autistic brother. It’s honest to say that he is not always easy to deal with. I was privately tempted to defend her response.

But if not at home, where? Where will she learn compassion if not by example and through practice in the safety of her family? Where will she learn to treat outsiders well if she hasn’t learned at home with the ones she loves?

If not now, when? She is most teachable in these formative years.

If not by the teaching of her mother, who? Her momma loves her fiercely, and is her first and best mentor.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads.
19 Teach them to your children, talking about them
when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

It would have been easy in the newness of the day to ignore the roll of those blue eyes. There was breakfast and two babies to feed and her coffee was cold again.

But Momma knows…

  • At age 5 her little girl is old enough to know that kindness is a choice.
  • If her daughter doesn’t exercise extending kindness at home, she will struggle with being kind out in the world. She wants her little girl to be the one to say “Come play with me!” to the lonely or the new child in class.
  • There are even times when love is a choice.

This molding of hearts and pointing tiny faces to Jesus is exhausting and no one would have found fault with the omission of consequences just this once.

But momma knows that the hard work is best done early; early in life and when possible, early in the day.

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

lorraine

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From Out Here: A Grandmother’s View of Autism

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I pen this as an observer; I claim no expertise. I’ve never parented a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I don’t go to therapy appointments, I don’t visit the neurologist or the behavioral specialist and I don’t deal with the inevitable daily challenges of raising a child with a neurological disorder.

However, I love a child with ASD. He’s my grandson.

I also don’t have type 1 diabetes. I don’t prick my finger eight or more times each day to test blood sugar. I don’t position a spring loaded device on my belly and push the button to insert a cannula to deliver insulin – to literally keep me alive. I’ve never woken from a diabetic coma, surrounded by paramedics and feeling rotten. I’ve never been hospitalized with Diabetic Ketoacidosis.

But I love a man who does, who has. He’s my hubby.

It’s been a journey. So here I am, twenty years after his diagnosis, still clumsily discovering how to be an encourager and advocate while maintaining my primary role as wife and lover. I avoid being the “diabetes police” but I’ve said the wrong thing and responded in the worst way when he most needed compassion.

diabetes-528678_1920I cannot express the highs and lows (no pun intended, but it’s so true) of dealing with diabetes. You can do the same things day in and day out and get wildly different results. Just last Saturday, the excitement of finishing a 5k was clouded within minutes when his blood sugar reading was high. There is big potential damage to vital organs from exercising with high blood glucose. But there are so many factors outside of his control, and virtually none within mine. There were many emotions that surged, from aggravation to fear, but the truth is that you just deal with the present. Adjust, course-correct where possible, and keep living life with this person I love with all of my heart. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

ASD makes normally simple things hard for our boy. He struggles with waiting. Changes in routine are upsetting; he doesn’t like to share certain toys and he’s not especially affectionate. Many times he’d rather play alone than with his siblings. Some days are just hard for him to deal with normal stuff.

He’s learning and developing skills to cope through therapy and the efforts of his parents. They are his champions.

 

Watching him run and play outside makes my heart soar. He’s brilliant, this little guy. He loves books – he will sit with anyone who is willing to read. When he is having a good day, he is delightful. His joy is pure and wild and unfiltered.

Since his diagnosis he has made significant progress. I have high hopes for this boy, confident that he will reach his potential because he is surrounded by people committed to building a strong foundation.

So here I am, clumsily discovering how to be an encourager and advocate, while maintaining my role as his grandma and my daughter’s mom. I am not an expert on ASD and I’ve said and done the wrong thing. I’ve responded with impatience when I should have been compassionate. I’ve already made some monumental blunders in dealing with him. Without a doubt, I’ve annoyed his parents by saying the wrong thing or reacting inappropriately to his behavior. I’ve misunderstood and been misunderstood because I didn’t know enough about his symptoms and limitations. We’ve learned to extend grace to him and each other.

I don’t know what our sweet little grandson’s experience will be. I’ve read lots about autism, pretty much everything I can get my hands on; I listen and ask questions of his parents. And what I’ve learned is to expect the unexpected. The things that worked yesterday (or the last time that we were together) don’t always work today. Regression can occur and expectations have to be adjusted. But at the end of every day, the little boy who lies down (possibly after jumping in his bed for a bit) and sings himself to sleep is a gift from God, fearfully and wonderfully created.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14 NIV

May we ever grow in compassion and joy for every life.

April is Autism Awareness month. The Autism Society has issued a challenge of sorts. Awareness has been mostly achieved, so they encourage friends to become partners in the movement toward acceptance and appreciation. During April I’ll share some ways that you can take that next step.

Autism

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