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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Get Well


                                                           
                                                    Alongside one another is a good thing!

We went to a wedding on Saturday. One of the familiar phrases in the ceremony rings in my head - "In sickness and in health..." At ceremonies like this, I often remember the vows that Joe and I repeated so many years ago when we became a family, when we numbered only two. Since baby Nora was born last year, our family numbers thirteen!

If I am to write about "the joy of journey as a family," honestly, I need to include the trying times, the upsetting times, the times when health is impaired. We all have those times, and the loving support of family is helpful beyond measure. I know of no better image of encouragement than that of coming alongside one another to share joys as well as loads.  With many extended families spread out with miles between, it is not always a relative who can do this coming alongside. Church family, friends, and neighbors may be ones who come with help and a hug.

 Three of my five granddaughters have been ill these past few days. Words like "pneumonia, RSV, ear infections, Strep" are not welcome words because they make our little ones very sick. Two of them live near enough for me to offer help. For the baby, it may mean a lap and loving arms to hold. I need to make sure our older girls know I care and that I pray for them, too. Supporting their parents who are trying to juggle busy jobs with the priorities of being good parents is also important. Offering a pot of soup or running an errand or early pick up from school can help. The miles that separate us from family in North Texas limit support to email, phone calls and a note, but there may be times when I am able to go there to help.

Of course, there are seasons when the sickness and offers of help are reversed. Joe has had many surgeries in recent years, and my own health sometimes takes a nosedive. Our family and friends offer hands and hearts. It is all part of our journey.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Birthdays




 Each year in January, and again in July and October, I spend time on my sons' birthdays just savoring those earliest days of their lives, including the months I carried them inside my body, the oh so unforgettable day of birthing, those precious times with a tiny baby boy at my breast, then having the privilege that only parents have - that of not only welcoming them to this world, but helping them welcome our world - first in our arms, then exploring beyond. I love the memories of their discovering taste and smell, touching and hearing and seeing beauty. Holding a tiny hand to catch a raindrop, touch a kitten's ear, hold a rose petal. First times for everything!

I am thankful for those memories and every one of those early days, as sleep deprived as I may have been, as chaotic as days with 3 boys could be. And I am thankful for the fine men they have each become, and for the privilege of being Mom during both the trials and triumphs of their becoming. Although I am proud and impressed with the work ethic and expertise each has developed, I am often most impressed by their home building.  Not the wood and brick kind - the kind of building that comes from loving and honoring their wives and being the best Daddies I know to their little girls.

It came as a kind of shock to me this week as we celebrated our oldest son's birthday on Tuesday (January 13) that there is a less significant, yet important to me birthday to remember.  On Monday, January 12, 2009, I began this blog, my first attempt at doing anything like this, in essence, sticking my neck out and publishing my writing, sharing my family and my feelings,  Since that time, I have added 2 other blogs and at present, post to each of them weekly.

www.stonesandfeathers.wordpress.com

www.kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com



Here is a repeat of the start.



Birth of a Blog

Blog? The word is strange to me. I know what it is. I read other blogs. But I do not know how to blog. The word as a verb instead of a noun is vaguely unsettling because it implies an action I do not yet know how to perform. But I will learn. I will.

Forty one years ago tonight I was beginning the labor that would bring our first son into the light. On that cold Saturday morning, mighty work was required but then came the overwhelming joy. The work that can deliver words that have grown within me into the light of print and scrutiny may be absorbing and intense as well but with joy I ask for grace in the passing on of life and story.


At the end of 2009, I considered whether I would continue the blog, and decided to stay with it, borrowing some courage from Whitman.

"The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung." ~Walt Whitman

Friday, January 9, 2015

Gifts Continued

As we packed away our home's Christmas dress, took ornaments off the trees, and reflected on all the comings and goings of our busy family during this season, I thought about the gifts we gave our children and grandchildren. We all know our best gifts are not topped with bows and found under the Christmas tree, but I want the gifts that are there to have meaning. Almost always there are gifts of music and books and games. Every year, I like to wrap up one thing for my "boys" - all of them, including their Dad, that will be fun and bring back memories of childhood Christmases. I enjoy giving them things that encourage their own home building and hospitality. But this year, there was a gift for each of our married sons and their wives (plus ones I mailed for my nieces) that took a little explanation. They all know my fondness for estate sales and might have thought on first look that I got carried away when I found a box of old silverplate.  But these gifts were nothing I shopped for, and cost me nothing other than a few minutes' time to assemble them.  

They each opened a tissue-wrapped, tarnished, mismatched knife, fork, and spoon.  Any questions about the odd set I hope were answered with the printed message I included explaining the origin of the old flatware.  

This worn, tarnished, mismatched knife, fork, and spoon belonged to Mary Clyde Curley Terrell, your great grandmother. I have had these for many years, and thought for a time to make something from them - a piece of jewelry, a windchime, or kitchenart perhaps.  Somehow, it never seemed right to alter them. Do with them as you wish, but I hope you will remember their story, her story.  Grandma Terrell likely never had a matched set of anything, that is part of  your knife, fork, and spoon story. She lived in the years that I remember her best in an old frame farmhouse on a hill not far from the cemetery in Bullard, Texas where she is buried. In the kitchen where she worked I remember a wood stove, a bucket and dipper which were for water drawn from the well by the back door, and a window at one end where food scraps were thrown out for her chickens.

She worked hard with her hands and loved fiercely with her heart. She had few material possessions, never drove a car, never had indoor plumbing util she was nearly 80. She cooked food that made my mouth water - peas and other fresh vegetables from her garden, biscuits, cornbread, and teacakes for a little girl who adored her ad watched everything she did never knowing she herself would someday have granddaughters. 







Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas Gifts

The gift of Jordann

We celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, so our lights and trees always stay up past Epihany, meaning that after most of the neighborhood has hauled trees out for trash pickup and stored both inside and outside Christmas trim, we are still in full Christmas dress at our house.  This year, we managed to draw out even the family gatherings and gift sharing past New Year's day. For those of us who live in this area, gathering began Christmas Eve with a tradition that has become dear - going together to church for a meaningful time of meditation and communion, then going home (this year to our youngest son's house) to share a meal together.  Christmas day's meal and gifting followed. Our out of town family joined us earlier this week and New Year's eve was another joyous gift exchange. In the photo above, Jordann discovers how much fun Rainbow tiles can be when you build them on a lighted surface. This makes me think how much light plays a part in our Christmas celebration - in the yard, on the Christmas trees, twinkling behind stained glass, on the mantle and over the grandfather clock. We have a set of little houses Ben painted when he was around 10 that look magical when lighted from within.

But the lights I love best are those that sparkle from our son's eyes when they watch their daughters, and those that twinkle in the children's eyes from all the wonder. Those are my best gifts beyond the One Gift that is the reason for all of them.  I am grateful.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Generations of Joy


Sometimes, family story is as simple as looking at what has been kept and how it is used today. On Christmas Eve 2014, Nora finds joy in this stuffed Santa who wiggles his head while music tinkles "Santa Claus is Coming Town!"  This Santa made her Daddy giggle when he was her age, and through the years perched on various bookshelves, stair steps, and kitchen counters in many different homes through our years of moving often.  He is one of the beloved Christmas decorations we pull out of a bin when we happily begin dressing our home for Christmas every year.

An even older story comes from the wooden high chair where Nora and Santa are playing.  It is also where she joined our family yesterday for her first Christmas dinner at Grandma and Papa Terrell's old oak table. The high chair, circa 1941, used by my sister in the mid 40's, all of our sons, including Nora's Daddy, and our granddaughters as they arrived and shared meals at our house.  The worn spindled back, scuffed footrest, and dented tray hold stories of 4 generations  (5 if you count my grandparents, who without doubt frequently joined Mother and Daddy for mealtime). That is a great deal of joy!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Advent Journey

Our Advent practices vary from year to year.  The Advent wreath and candles change. I choose different books to read from.  But we always set up the Advent calendars (we have several) and our grandchildren love keeping us "up to date" with them.  Here, Skye is adding a little wooden figure to the tiny numbered peg where it will hang, joining those already there and waiting for the rest of the nativity scene to join in this little folding wooden box. In recent years, I have added a daily post during Advent to another blog  www.stonesandfeathers.wordpress.com.  These and other practices help me choose wonder and joy in the middle of all the lists of things to do at this time of year. It is my gift to both myself and my family.

What traditions are important to you in all the busy preparations for Christmas?  How do these change your "list?"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

First Christmas

Nora is discovering Christmas for the very first time this year. Her eyes are full of laughter and wonder and she delights in every small new thing she has never seen or touched before:  twinkle lights, red balls, music boxes that tinkle "Joy to the World."  I remember holding her Daddy up to find joy in the same things, some of them the very same when we stand in front of the Christmas tree at our home. We enjoy all the sights and sounds and the fragrance of cinnamon and cloves, press our hands to window glass to feel the cold, and sing the simple carols.
This is my 74th Christmas, but in her delight, I find all of it new again.  Thank you, Nora.   Merry Christmas!