Sunny-side Up

Okay, I confess! I haven’t always been an optimist. Since becoming a Christian and growing in the Holy Spirit, the Lord has trained me to think positively. As a child, I often worried. Now that “what if” process exhausts me.

With my back story now public, what follows will make much more sense. I’ve been telling people I’ve never experienced anything in my almost 66 years of life quite like the COVID-19 quarantine. That’s not entirely true.

My family lived eight miles from the west gate of what was first called Crane Naval Ammunition Depot. In 1948 my parents met on base and were civilian employees for a combined total of over 70 years.

Dad progressed through the organization, retiring as director of their massive railroad system that transported live shells and missiles. Then I didn’t understand the danger of those in-the-middle-of-the-night derailments. The phone rang, he’d throw on clothes and leave.

October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Dad began stockpiling canned goods and storing them in our one-story home’s 4 ½ foot crawl space. For 12 days, Dad had my mother, my four-year-old sister and me practice getting in and out of this dark, damp underground bunker.

Recently I asked my sister if she remembered those drills. Dad had been an Army sergeant, so yes, they were drills! “All I remember are cans and cans of stacked peaches.” I laughed at the thought of being literally stuck underground with mostly canned peaches. “We would’ve died by ant infestation!” Fortunately, the Soviet Union’s bomb threat ended October 28, 1962. Life continued cautiously but soon normalized.

Lessons learned? Combine hope with common sense. Then expect sunshine.

Spring is coming soon!

In the Rearview Mirror

I blink! Another year passes. And another. In my seventh decade, time has shifted into warp speed. When I realized 2019 closed out a decade, I couldn’t help but reflect on the last ten years.

On January 1, 2010, I would not have known my parents would pass into eternity within the decade’s first three years. Neither would I’ve comprehended that our children would marry the loves of their lives and then grace Al and me with the most beautiful granddaughters in the universe. Too often I said they would never marry. “Al and I will never be grandparents!”

Thankfully I was wrong!

 I’m not going to make any New Year’s predictions for 2020 or for any decade to come. I truly don’t want to know the future this side of Heaven. If I’ve learned one thing in 65 years, it’s this: I don’t know what tomorrow brings so I will live in real time, praising a real Savior.

Jesus cradles my time and circumstances in his hands. How do I know that? From the past. He’s been faithful and I know He cares for me now and forever.

If you don’t have Jesus in your life, consider the fact that He died to give you eternal life. While time in this finite world matters, it’s not the end of your story. Nor is it the end of mine.

Look back but also look ahead. Your final destination is at stake.

Shattered

When Al was upstairs in the shower Sunday morning, a crash directly overhead interrupted my routine. Chest tightening while running, I feared my husband might have blacked out and fallen.

“Are you okay?” 

“Yes!” The water kept running.

By that time, I saw that the small antique mirror had fallen, lying within a footstep of drawing blood.

As I hurried to pick up the pieces, the thought came, “This is life. One minute it looks good, secure and well placed, and the next, it’s a mess.”

With Jesus as Lord of our lives, we don’t need to pick up sharp edges alone. Yes, this side of eternity, mirrors crash as rusty exhaust fans rattle and disturb the nearby landscape. Yet the Savior of the world sees the mess and understands our fear.

Jesus has lived among us—the shattered. He knows how to pick up the pieces.

There is one condition. We must trust Him.

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

– Hebrews 12:2-3 NLT

A River Runs Through It

True or False? I have never lived farther than 10 miles from White River. At the risk of your thinking I don’t get out much, my answer is True.

While growing up in Bloomfield, Indiana, our family crossed White River frequently as it edged the town’s western perimeter. My sister and I could bike to one of its creeks where we learned to skip stones and torment frogs with stray branches.

Later I followed the river north. Although I didn’t choose Ball State University based upon its five-mile proximity to White River, I enjoyed knowing it was nearby. The only Muncie river interaction I remember involved an earth science class field trip to study how the city purified its water.

The farthest I’ve ever lived from White River came after Al and I were married and rented our first apartment near Eagle Creek Reservoir. At that location, I was approximately 10 miles from the river. Ironically that was the closest I’ve ever lived to a body of water.

When we built our first home in Decatur Township two years later, we lived five miles west of the river. In 1987, we moved to our current location in Center Grove, five miles east of the river.  When it flooded in 2008, White River and our area erupted into a news flash as homes were damaged beyond repair.

This spring White River became relevant when Al and I were introduced to its scenic four-mile round trip asphalt trail, the White River Greenway Trail, which starts at Waverly’s Old Town Park. There’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Thank you, White River, for being a continuum this side of Heaven!

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. . .” Revelation 22:1

Best Yet

Last week my husband Al decided it was time to talk about my upcoming birthday. Thinking this meeting was going to be all about me, I was thrilled.

As we sat together at the kitchen table, a new reality trampled my expectations as he pulled out spreadsheets—never a good sign. Groaning, I immediately thought, “Oh no!  Budget adjustments for 2019.” Welcome to retirement world!

Instead my birthday tête-à-tête with my beloved delved into the amazing world of Medicare, where part and plan are not interchangeable. Supplements are not advantages and donut holes are not edible.

My first question: “Am I really going to be 65 this year?” Surely not!  I remember thinking my folks were old when they were in their mid-sixties. Father Time could not have thrown me into that future so quickly, could he?

In my mind, I’m mid-forties at the most. But I will admit that sometimes my body and mind don’t concur with that calculation—such as when I get out of bed in the morning and wonder how long it will take to straighten up and walk a straight line. Or when I walk into a room, look around, and wonder why I’m there. Or when I spend way too much time chasing down my phone. That little techie rascal plays hide-n-seek.

But wait a minute. I’m not complaining! I praise God that He has given me 65 years of a good life, a blessed life, in fact.  Born into a great family, being married to an amazing man, having healthy children and grandchildren. and a multitude of loving friends—I have no reason to complain. Ever!

The best part is that God sees my being 65 years old as just a blip in time. He made us to live forever.  All we need is to trust in Jesus Christ. After all, the Son of God conquered death on our behalf. Life everlasting is ours through Christ alone.

The best is yet to come.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV

In like a lamb, out like a lion! Even if reversed, the March weather proverb describes our year, one that began with my partial knee replacement. That transcribes as lots of rehab and taking it easy. My end goal was to hike Utah’s amazing national parks with no pain in September. That prayer came true!

But what you might not know is that I sent a book manuscript, one that had been in the works for almost a decade, to CrossLink Publishing the day before my surgery. My thought process? I figured if they rejected it, I’d still be on painkillers and wouldn’t care. Strangely enough, the same day I quit taking the meds, the publisher emailed he wanted the book.

During this time, our daughter announced she was pregnant. A few weeks later, our son and daughter-in-law shared their same surprising news. So the lion part of our year began when our second granddaughter was born September 1, the night before we hiked the Delicate Arch in Moab with only four hours sleep. Our son and his wife gave birth to our third granddaughter October 23. Fifty-three days and 1,470 miles apart, the two girls entered this world, raising our grandchild total to 3.

Three is definitely a good number! Trinity: Walk in Love, Forgiveness and Peace was locally released two weeks later, November 9. In a way, it, too, was a birth, a labor of love chronicling how God had revealed Himself to me over the past decade. Through nature, travel, deaths, weddings and births, God, in His magnificent fullness, revealed Himself by ministering to my family and me.

As another year closes, let’s take the time to reflect upon the One who loves us enough to be our Father, our Savior, and our Counselor.

Great Joy!

October 7, 2018:

As I write this, all is quiet on the home front. Our two-year-old granddaughter Elianna and her newborn sister Tirzah are both taking a nap after church. A first since the baby was born a month ago! In fact, I’m fairly certain our daughter is asleep upstairs, too.

Since Tuesday when Al and I arrived for our two-week visit, time has blurred. Thirty plus years have sped by since we had to juggle the first month of a household of two children twenty-eight months apart. Believe me, the déjà-vu fatigue is reflected in our daughter’s face while our son-in-law is trying his best to hold everything and everyone together.

Al and I remember too well that some days inevitably will be literally filled with leaking diapers, feeding, and sobbing (the last one primarily the two-year-old and the mommy). Been there, done that!

Yet this time’s it’s different! Days that seemed like an eternity in retrospect now seem to fly by. When I was a young mom alone with a baby and a toddler, it seemed like forever until Al walked through the door at 4pm. If I had time for a shower before he came home, it was a good day.

Reliving those days with my daughter and her husband, Al and I could care less when we shower (in humid Houston, it only makes sense before bedtime). Why? Because we’re eager to share “oats-honey-raisin” breakfasts and walks to the park with our gregarious and incredibly intelligent two-year-old and cuddles, coos, and silly songs with our bright-eyed, sweet grandbaby.

October 23, 2018:

Actually it was 1:45am, Wednesday, October 24, when the texting interrupted our sleep. Our daughter-in-law’s 24+ hour labor included over 3 hours of pushing. But Nysa came into this world on her terms and on Pacific Standard Time and on the exact date and day her Aunt Valerie was due 34 years ago. Calendars do repeat themselvesJ Great joy also repeats when new parents meet their first child! We have never seen Chris and Shwetha so radiant. Tired but thrilled!

We are on hold to meet Nysa and her welcoming older pet sibling LuLu as we would like her maternal grandparents to soak up the glory of their first grandchild. They’ve traveled all the way from India to enjoy her and support their only daughter and son-in-law. But we enjoyed the family text circle that kept us up until almost sunrise. Al and I felt like we were there with them. Thank God for technology because our children and theirs live so far away.

Soon we’ll all be together, and it will be a glorious celebration of three babies: Tirzah, Nysa, and Jesus, along with a two-year-old whose favorite songs are “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Who You Say I Am.” She sings the first and dances to the second.

Great JOY!

I can hardly wait until we’re all together. That is my happy place! This fall has been an explosion of baby blessings. Al and I cannot thank God enough!

 

In the Air Again

I enjoy traveling. Packing–not so much! Not that I’m complaining, because this is the only way I can see my precious kids and their families. Since Al and I retired five years ago, we have been blessed with opportunities to travel overseas to Israel, Austria, and Cyprus, with two of those three to visit our daughter and her family.

Stateside, we have put several of the 100,000+ miles on our 2008 Chevy Malibu to drive to Maryland, Florida, Texas, California, Colorado, and Michigan. Four of those destinations involved visiting family.

Today I’ve finished packing for the fourth trip this year, second one to Houston, and believe me, I’m grateful not to being going overseas to visit our daughter Valerie, her husband Charley, and our most precious granddaughter, Elianna, who will soon become a big sister to a newborn baby sister.

I love my life!

But I loved my life, too, when both in kids were in college and our big outing for the week was a Friday night trip to Chick-fil-A with coupons. Afterward, Al and I would go to Home Depot and buy a gallon of Behr’s satin finish paint, because our weekend entertainment involved painting a room in our now 32-year-old house.

Then there were the tough-but-precious-memory years when we took care of my parents who moved from their 50+ year old home in southern Indiana into the nearby Hearth at Stones Crossing. Then most of our travel involved going to Bloomfield to check on our childhood homes. During those years time trumped travel in importance.

On the horizon we have a Utah hiking trip with friends planned, another trip to Houston, and two to San Diego where we will welcome to the family our son Chris and Shwetha’s firstborn due mid-October. Weeks later we will all gather in their new home to celebrate the holidays.

I love this phase of our life and am thankful for the God-given resources to be able to visit those we love. But occasionally I wish they were just minutes away instead of hours. Our two homebound gray babies, the infamous Bevo and Bewley kitties, agree.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

1 Timothy 6:6

 

In His Arms

Last night Al and I were watching Anderson Cooper on CNN’s 360 interview with Tia Coleman, the wife and mother of the family who drowned in the Duck Boat accident near Branson, Missouri. Her tears and agony filled the screen. She described that when the boat was pulled from the bottom of the lake, her husband Glenn was found embracing their three children.

Listening to her tearfully talk of her love for her husband, Cooper, with tears, could hardly respond. She had nine family members die in the accident. Compassionately he concluded the interview by telling Tia that all of America will be thinking of and praying for her.

In times of tragedy, prayer is our lifeline to God and to healing, isn’t it? Remember 9/11? The entire nation came together to pray. In tragedy, we cling to God. In easy times, not so much.

We need to pray for this family and all who were involved. Yes, the Colemans are grieving now and rightfully so because death is ugly, not at all what God intended when He created mankind. And God Almighty is grieving along with them. Through Jesus Christ, He has provided a glorious Plan B, one that rests on the fact Jesus Christ, as both God and man, overcame death, was resurrected, and lives forever in Heaven, now inviting us to follow him.

Even in her grief, Tia Coleman testifies hope. The pastor of the church she grew up in marveled at her strength during Saturday’s press conference: “She came forth as a witness. Every third or fourth word out of her mouth was giving glory to God, and that is where the rubber meets the road. In situations like that, you’ve got to have it down in your heart.” (Bishop Thomas E. Griffith as quoted by Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, 7.23.18, p.6A)

The father of the Coleman family huddled his children—Reece (9), Evan (7), and Arya (1)—near his heart as they left this world to enter eternal life. Missed by those who loved them deeply, they live on in the arms of Jesus and will be reunited, together again someday.

 

Ten Things I LOVE about Our Two Year Old Granddaughter!

 

  • how she pronounces, “aaaa pull saws, pleez?” (translation: “apple sauce, please?”)
  • how she sings “Jesus Loves Me” in a whisper as I rock her.
  • how she breaks into a smile and then laughs as FaceTime begins.
  • when she studies me floating in the pool and then tries doing it, too.
  • when she lets me babysit her special doll while she “cooks.”
  • when she “shushes” and bounces her baby doll snuggled over her shoulder.
  • when we both pat our babies’ backs and shout “burp!” and then giggle uncontrollably.
  • how she entwines the blue variegated, grandma-made blankie around her tiny hand as she sucks her thumb.
  • when she tosses her purse over her shoulder like her mother and gets into her molded plastic, pink car.
  • when she grabs my hand and takes me to the playground.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. Proverbs 17:6

Thank You, Jesus, for this gift of grandchildren. I had no idea what a blessing they are and how they make aging more rewarding. May they grow up loving, obeying, and serving You now and forever. May they continue the legacy of those in our family who are now in eternity with Jesus. Amen!