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Shed Quilts

The unassuming man stood before his peers as he entered the Football Hall of Fame. Ironically this seven time pro-bowler had been overlooked seven times previously for induction to the Hall of Fame because he was “just a kicker.” The coveted gold jacket fit his lanky frame perfectly. I love the comment he made. “The true benefit of a gift is sharing it with others.” He was speaking of his natural ability as a kicker. But I think his wisdom is a “one size fits all” sort of understanding.

We made some gifts last fall which led to a lot of joy. The joy however was mostly in the giving.

You may have noticed paintings resembling quilt patterns on barns throughout the mountains. The original barn quilt was designed by a woman in honor of her mother, a master quilter. From there her idea spread through the countryside of Ohio. See http://barnquiltinfo.com/history for the background. Snail Trails are mapped out in certain states so that visitors can view these lovely designs. All three of our daughters have commented on how much they love the barn quilts.

Wheels started turning. David and I designed a smaller version that would work well on a shed. Each daughter has a favorite color. Hannah is our fall child and loves all things orange. When Amanda bought her first house, she was single and painted several rooms different shades of pink. Stephanie has loved teal/turquoise/funky variations of greenish blue since before the bridesmaid dress fiasco of 1997. A lighter robin’s egg blue is very me. David is the solid black background that holds us all together. The pattern resembles a quilt he bought me one Christmas about a hundred years ago. Yes, we are sappy sentimental like that. Following through on our idea led to a great road trip last fall as we delivered the shed quilts to our daughters from North Carolina to Illinois, then Corpus Christi and back home. The true benefit of a gift really is in the sharing.

I bet you have something worth sharing. Take a little chance. What are you holding back? Why think of yourself as “just a kicker” when the Lord refers to you as His very own Masterpiece! [Ephesians 2:10]. I think the best gifts come from very little, for that’s when we have to get really creative.

As Hall of Famer Ray Guy knows, what you have to offer might just complete the team!

Stephanie & her dad in Ramsey, Illinois

Stephanie & her dad in Ramsey, Illinois

Home Sweet Salisbury

Home Sweet Salisbury

 

Amanda hung hers inside

Amanda hung hers inside

Quilt H 2

Hannah’s Shed

 

Daffodils of Hope

It’s a good year for daffodils. My mother-in-law’s yard is bursting with hope as pretty yellow blossoms signal the coming warm weather. “Every day is just one day closer to spring!” Nina says often. I think it’s her way of giving herself and anyone who will listen a little pep talk.

It’s been an especially harsh winter. We thought the weather was bad. Then she got the cancer diagnosis. Though March 20th marks the first day of spring, I’m pretty sure we still have some rough days ahead.

“If we can just get outside and breathe some fresh air we’re bound to feel better. I’m tired of this same old stale air I’ve been breathing all winter.”

Of course she’s right.

As we stepped into her little side yard where new blades of grass poked through the soggy winter soil she noticed a whole bank of daffodils behind the row of bushes leading to her back yard.

“Honey go down there and pick those and make yourself a nice bouquet. No one can see them blooming back there and I’d hate for them to go to waste.”

Though she struggles to breathe, she offers encouragement like a breath of fresh air.

Though she hurts with each step because of her “bad leg” she guides the listener to better days.

Letting nothing go to waste, today’s bouquet is mine for the taking.

Winter won’t last forever. Every day is just one day closer to spring.

Nina said so. Who am I to argue with one so dear?

Sweet daffodils nod their pretty heads in agreement. Like Nina they offer hope for better days to come. daffodils

 

Would you say a little prayer for Nina?

All who love her sure appreciate it.

Sweet Cookies

“I do it! I do it! I do it!” proclaimed my very excited granddaughter. “Wait sweetie. It’s Jesse’s turn. You can be next.” With great care he held the measuring cup in his left hand as he dumped the brown sugar into the mixing bowl tapping it just so.

“Me! Me! Me!” Marie reminded as she reached for an egg.

“Yes! It’s your turn. Careful honey. Let Grammy break it and you can pour it in.”

“I do it I do it I do it!”

Crunch went the egg. Shell and all tossed right into the batter. As I fished out the shells she crushed them in her little hands with delight. Jesse waited without a word on the other side as I broke the other egg for him to pour. Back and forth we went until all the ingredients were in the bowl. At least I think we got everything in.

One child naturally patient, the other is more like her Grammy.

While I scooped the dough onto the cookie sheets and into the oven each child happily licked a beater and spatula. The whole kitchen was covered with helpfulness. Evidence of sticky little hands spread throughout the house. My grandma heart was full and happy.

Some decades ago with three little girls of my own I learned that allowing my daughters to “help” when it would be so much easier just to do it myself makes for a lot of joy… but takes a ton of patience. Not joy as in “Yippy! My house is perfect and the cookies are too!” kind of joy.

Joy like, “We’ll eventually get the stickiness off every single surface and those cookies aren’t half bad either.”

Patience takes a lot of effort, at least is does on my part. I tend to be like Marie. “I do it I do it I do it!!!” Patience is a teeny tiny sliver on my personality pie chart.

While it appeared to me that other moms had it all together in the patience department, I had to get very intentional and be patient on purpose. Here’s a prayer I used to pray often… usually as I banged my head on the wall:

“Give me patience when little hands tug at me with ceaseless small demands.

Give me gentle words and smiling eyes; and keep my lips from hasty sharp replies.

So when in years to come this house is still, beautiful memories its rooms will fill.”

                                                                                    -Author Unknown

 

Of course we sampled the finished product when they came out of the oven. I’m not sure if it was the joy, or if amongst all the helpfulness there was extra sugar thrown in.  But either way, those cookies sure were sweet!

cookies

Beautiful Nina

As we sat waiting for her name to be called for yet another medical test, my sweet mom-in-law explained why she could no longer pull heavy bales of hay or large flower pots with her left arm. Not because she’s dragging a line hooked to her oxygen tank; nor because she has a replacement knee which has come apart within her leg; and certainly not because she is eighty nine.

But get this. It’s because she’s afraid her pacemaker will pop out. I asked if that would be similar to the Butterball thermometer which pops out when the turkey is done. Thankfully her hearing is not what it used to be either. I’m pretty sure she can still whip me.

This woman has always been able to work circles around anyone and everyone. When one of her knee replacements went bad she refused to quit. Afraid of being put to sleep for surgery she continued to keep up her yard by dragging a plastic chair around with her so she could stop and take a break. Don’t misunderstand. She has family who gladly does the mowing and other things. But so far as the flowers that’s strictly her domain. She has a vision of how things are to look and will not be deterred. Nina is one of the stubbornest women I’ve ever met.

Did I say stubborn? What I meant was… strong.

Her strength is about to come in very handy. You see, she just found out she has extensive advanced cancer.

I can hardly write the words.

This beloved mom-in-law of mine has always been the strong one. She has been the one to take care of those in need. Her attitude has always been so positive that you wonder if she’s for real.

At this point we only know bits and pieces. Her very kind doctor assured her that her breathing is good enough and she’ll be fine under anesthesia. So she has consented to surgery. She even commented, “When we get all this mess taken care of I might just have my knee done.”

Yes, she is for real.

As she entertained the ladies in the waiting room who were also there for breast ultrasounds [and the fear that comes with another test after a mammogram] I looked at her once again with admiring eyes. She joked that maybe while they have her “under” they could fix her knee if they just didn’t get in each other’s way. Perhaps we could also have Sally her beautician to be there to do her hair and someone at the other end to do her toenails. She smiled her mischievous smile which, as always, included freshly applied lipstick. Thick silver hair framed her signature pearl earrings and pleasant face as she anticipated being a brand new woman.

No need dear Nina. You will always and forever be one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.Nina

Stubborn yes… but oh!

So beautiful!

Box of Shame

As we approached the register I noticed a sign saying, “Please inform the cashier if you qualify for the senior discount.” I wondered what one would have to do to qualify. Would we be asked to show ID of some sort or would there be a test. Perhaps a series of questions like “Who was Commander in Chief when Marilyn Monroe sang a breathy “Happy Birthday Mr. President?” Or something a little more age revealing like… “What is a party line and have you ever listened in on a neighbor’s conversation?” Mama always said that particular sin would surely find me out. But I loved hearing what Pearl had to say to Colleen.

The line moved quicker than I expected and suddenly I was confronted with whether to claim the discount. Apparently I am cheaper than I am vain, so I requested, “Two seniors and one regular buffet please.”

The cute little cashier of approximately seventeen did not question. She did not card me or even look at me quizzically. Surely someone in management would burst from the back and say, “Hold on there lady! Who’s getting the other senior discount? You don’t expect us to believe you qualify! Now just back yourself up and pay full price like the other young whipper snappers!

But alas…

My claim on the senior discount was accepted without question. So my 89 year old mother-in-law and I dined on the cheap while my husband who is a youthful 59 paid regular price.

All because last month I turned…  gasp…  60. And yes, in 1974 I robbed the cradle being five months older than my fiancé. The very first distress over our age difference was early in the marriage. It was a June wedding so the license proclaimed in front of God and everybody: Groom = 18; Bride = 19.

Sheesh.

Fast forward a quick three kids later when we visited a church in Georgia. Ushers presented us with follow-up cards. Little check boxes gave the age options [18-25] or [25-30] or [30-40] etc. Since I had turned 26 and David wouldn’t be 26 for a few more months, not only did he check the youngest adult box, he elbowed me and pointed out his witty choice. I did not appreciate being in a different box, especially one associated with the dreaded thirty.

He has not always been as wise as he is now.

In fact now he’s so wise that when I looked to him for advice in the buffet line he turned away like he didn’t know me. As he shook his head I heard him murmuring something along the lines of “There’s NO WAY I’m touching that one.”60

So once again I find myself in a different dreaded box… sixty and above. I think I’ll make a paper chain to count off the days til July. That’s when my beloved shall also qualify as a senior citizen and finally we’ll be in the box of shame together. I’m still not sure the discount is worth it.

 

Report Card

My friend Tonya had a picture of an old report card on her Facebook page. The comments from her teacher read like this:

1st Report:           Tonya has adjusted very nicely to the change we made when moving to the Junior High. Tonya talks more than she should.

2nd Report:

3rd Report:          Tonya talks more than she should.

4th Report:

5th Report:           Tonya needs to rest her jaws more during silent time.

6th Report:

 

Poor teacher. Apparently there were no words to express her exasperation during the 2nd, 4th, and 6th, report periods.  And “rest her jaws” was the best verbiage she could muster.

 

Poor Tonya! All that great communication stored up and not allowed to share! Well she certainly made good use of it when she got to High School. Tonya loved everybody. No matter how cool or uncool, rich or poor, in crowd or out, she made us all feel very special: Highly unusual for the prettiest girl in school.

 

After thirty some years since graduation, we started catching up a little through Facebook, where I learned that she has seven daughters and a son. I bet they are just as friendly and fun as she is. And I bet more than one was called down for talking during school. But knowing Tonya, she taught them the value of friendship and care for others.

 

Here are a few things I learned about energetic, talkative children from working at two different schools for a total of twenty five years:

 

  • They always seem to have perfect attendance
  • Having them run the perimeter of the ball field with their energetic buddy, talking all the way, helps tire out their legs… and jaws
  • They are actually using their brain a thousand times more than is evident at the time
  • Putting them in charge of something helps channel some of their energy; they already know they have a lot of useful information; they are just waiting for you to get on board
  • Their project, reports, and speeches will be the most entertaining; you never know what information they deem appropriate to share
  • Their hearts are very tender
  • Time flies. Today’s kindergartener who wants a hug is graduating tomorrow. Enjoy them now before they’re gone
  • Did I say “enjoy”? Bahahaha!!! You guessed it! I’m no longer a teacher!

 

And most important of all, “communicative” kids grow up to make the best leaders. Think about the most interesting testimonies you’ve heard. I’m guessing that the bulk of these dynamic leaders had less than flattering comments on their report cards. Hang in there parents and teachers. God is raising up tomorrow’s leaders and teaching us patience all in one fell swoop.

 

Hmmm… I have to wonder what His comments on my report card will say. Probably, “Lynna needs to rest her jaws more during silent time.”

 

Happy Birthday Tonya! It’s no wonder 60 came so fast. Time really does fly when you’re having fun!Tonya

Three Short Years Ago

As we prayed in the hospital waiting room, her husband emerged from pre-op. He looked at me and said, “She wants to see you before they take her into surgery.” I jumped from my place and nearly ran through the doors to be with our middle daughter. She was in a very dangerous state. Having lost her first son to similar health issues, they were about to take her second son by emergency C-section. But he was not due until May 15th. And it was only February 28th. His chances were very slim.

“Dear God, please spare us from sorrow upon sorrow. Protect this little life, and that of his mother.”

As I reached her bedside, one look told me my fears were justified.

“Lord please watch over our beloved daughter Amanda. Strengthen her husband Shane. We ask for Your mercy and healing, please Lord, please.”

I held her hand for a minute and kissed her forehead. Silently, I wondered if I had kissed her good-bye.

“Father, please spare her life. She’s been so weak and so sick for months. Lord we ask for the baby to be strong and healthy. We need a miracle. But You are able!”

I walked outside in the crisp cold air. Pansies and violas lifted their pretty faces and listened as I made call after call to friends and family, asking for prayer.

Back in the waiting room, my two sisters arrived with food. Knowing they had left work two counties away and had hurried to be with me gave such great comfort.

Shane came through the doors to the waiting room. Looking like a surgeon still in his operating garb, he announced:

“It’s a boy. Two pounds, fifteen ounces, and Amanda is fine. The baby’s name is Able, as-in God is able to do above all that we ask or think. We’ve had his name picked out for a while, but we didn’t know how appropriate it would be!”Able wired

Steadily baby Able grew stronger. The nurses in the NICU were wonderful. Finally, on May 19th, at nearly three months old, he got to go home.

Today we celebrate his third birthday!

“Thank You sweet Lord! You are so amazing!”

 “Now all glory to God, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!”  -Ephesians3:20

Happy Birthday sweet Able!photo (42)

What a big boy you are!

What a big boy you are! Did you dress yourself? =)

 

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