I Wanna Talk…He Wants to Watch a Movie!

Those who follow this blog know I love CCEF (Christian Counseling and Education Foundation).  I wanted to share this 15 minute video with you by David Pawlison.  I know 15 minutes is a long time when you’re used to reading 3-5 minutes reading. I really think will be helpful, though.

If you’re married, this may help you (as it did me) to better understand why God often brings opposites together in marriage — and how to navigate those times when you want to have a leisurely talk (usually the wife) and your spouse wants to unwind by watching a movie (usually the husband).

If you’re single, exposing yourself to this kind of insight can help you avoid the often unrealistic expectations about marriage.  What a blessing this can be in your future!

As Mr. Pawlison says:  “We need a vision of marriage that recognizes that marriage brings people together who, by nature, don’t know how to love.”

Wow.  What comfort.  I can only love Benny with God’s help.  Apart from Him I will love myself more than anyone!  But with God’s empowering help I’m learning to love him more.  And, yes, that means we watch more movies than I would like.  But he’s learning to talk more than he would like, too!

Enjoy!

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Cost Counting Both Ways: Some Lengthy Musings

This week I started a study of the Book of Exodus. It’s been refreshing to start a “dig deep” study from which I’m already benefiting. It’s been too long since I did this and God’s living and active word is having its affect on my heart.

And you’re about to read some real musings…smile. Musings are simply thoughts and ponderings for consideration or dialogue. They’re not rules or guidelines for people to follow. Smile.

In chapter 1 we read that after 400 years of favor in Egypt, the Israelites were yet again put into slavery by a new Egyptian king. Why? Because he observed how “numeous” the foreign Israelites were becoming. Historians think there were several likely reasons for this, including the fear that Egyptian enemies could find help in war from lots of Israelites or that Israel might eventually seek to take over the county like the Hyksos (also Jewish foreigners) had done for nearly a century earlier in their history.

Be patient as I quote from the Women’s Evangelical Commentary of the Old Testament:

“This king…perceived the people to be a threat and responded with suspicion and hostility….The pharoah’s plan indicates his belief that enslaving the Hebrews would separate husbands from their families, severely curtailing opportunities to conceive or provide for children, and that grueling physical labor would weaken them physically, crush their spirits, and ultimately disrupt the alarming population explosion of foreigners in the land.”

By the end of chapter one, he decreed that Hebrew baby boys would be killed at birth, leaving girls to grow up to become servants or wives of Egyptian men. As a mom, I can’t imagine the heartache of giving birth a son, only to face losing him to post-birth abortion by order of the government!

Thank God for godly midwives like the one who refused to kill newborn Moses. She had no idea her courageous refusal saved the life of the future deliverer of her people!

Satan’s attempts to prevent the proliferation of godly offspring didn’t end in 1440 BC with the enslavement of God’s people. This is what I was thinking about yesterday:

  • What do Satan’s attempts to prevent people from having and raising godly children look like today?
  • Why is it that couples who have three or more children often feel judged or mildly ridiculed for their decision?
  • What “enslavements” do today’s young parents and prospective parents face that may tempt them to limit family size?
  • What cost-counting considerations should today’s young parents do when making decisions about family size?

Yes, this is a mother of seven asking these questions and I’m not going to foolishly disregard the reality that having a large family influences my perspective on family size. But Benny and I didn’t set out to have a large family. After God gave this infertile woman a baby, we had no assurance more would come. But they did…even when we used birth control!

My desire is not to convince couples to have more children for the sake of having children. In fact, over the years Benny and I have counseled some couples to consider not adding more children to their lives for various reasons.

No, this wasn’t staged. Wyatt did this all on his own. Real family life.

Let’s be honest. Having and raising children is hard work. Aside from the financial and physical challenges, there is the sheer work involved in carrying, birthing, feeding, training, cleaning up after, disciplining, comforting and tending the heart of just one child into adulthood! Not to mention the potentially heart wrenching trials many parents face from serious illness, spiritual disinterest or teen rebellion, and watching young adults make sinful choices with hard consequences.

Whew. Why have children, then? Why risk any or all of that? Especially more than once or twice???

Because God has given Christian parents the stunning opportunity to put His glory and redemption on display. Believe me, I know how hard having children is. I spent 6 weeks on bedrest praying to save the life of my unborn baby girl. Stood over the incubator in the neonatal ICU and prayed my newborn son would be ok. Watched as a paramedic put a neck brace on my 10-year-old while remembering seeing the same on my quadriplegic brother after a swimming accident. Agonized over children making rebellious, sinful decisions as older teens. And sobbed over things that have happened in our family that seemed hopeless and unredeemable.

But God has been faithful. As my commentary says:  “God plans, promises, and proves faithful….This true story of God’s liberation, salvation, redemption, and rescue from Egypt powerfully foreshadows Christ’s liberation, salvation, redemption, and rescue from sin and death.”

Does that make your heart skip a beat? God’s redemptive plan in your and my families will never be thwarted. He will remain faithful to you…and to your children.  However many you have.  Faithfulness to protect and faithfulness to redeem from everything we would want to avoid happening.

Just like He has been to me. Today, the older teens I was so worried about are all

My Little People (Christmas 2011)

married to godly spouses and have children of their own. My unborn baby girl was worth 6 weeks on bed rest and is now a nurse. My newborn son turned out to be just fine and stands at 6 feet, 5 inches. (Well, he did take us threw a couple of tough toddler years with awful temper tantrums that scared and exhausted us!) Josh’s fall from the tree didn’t break his neck — but he gave me another scare 15 years later when he called me from the ER to say a cheerleader fell on his head during one of those “throw her in the air” tricks while he was reffing a basketball game.  And, by the grace of God, all seven of our children and eleven grandchildren are with us at Redeemer Church working side by side to bring the gospel to Lake Nona, Florida.

Young people: have babies. Have them for the glory of God. Let God, not culture or sin or Satan — or well-meaning friends or relatives or strangers (even those who tell you to have more than you believe God wants!) — convince you that raising children is too hard, expensive or life consuming.

Parenting is hard. Expensive. Life consuming. But each child comes with a Manufacturer guarantee of grace, wisdom, strength and gospel hope to see them become pillars of His church and proclaimers of the gospel for generations to come.

So count the cost of having kids. But also count the cost of not having them. Then raise the ones you have for His glory. Even through the hard times.

My Friend Could Use Your Help

My friend, Liz, is battling cancer and a sweet friend of ours, Rose, made a beautiful quilt to raise funds to help with expenses.

Rose’s beautiful creation.

Would you kindly consider participating by contributing a suggested $25?  You could be the recipient of “Hopes Garden,” the lovely quilt pictured here!  Here is Rose’s explanation of why she had this idea.  Keep reading; there is a link to her facebook page below where you can contribute if you desire.

“Liz knows how to find joy in difficult circumstances. She is in a battle for her life against an aggressive, malignant, cancer. But she isn’t fighting alone. I am amazed by the outpouring of support she and her husband Frank have received. The tolI cancer has taken on this family is great, and they are facing it with courage. Liz’s attitude encourages me to keep my focus on Christ.

Their trial is expensive; however, I believe God wants to provide for them by using you and me.  A quilt is a patchwork of many small pieces of fabric sewn together to make one beautiful, useful creation. We can join as a patchwork of friends and supporters to make a beautiful statement of God’s love and care for his own .As I worked on the quilt Hope’s Garden, God  put the idea in my mind to give the quilt away to help Liz and her family.

Many of you are already part of this patchwork through your spontaneous gifts that have blessed them so much. Here is another opportunity with a quilt attached. If you would like to make a donation to help them, please do so below.

With every pledge of  $25, you will  have a chance to own the pictured quilt, Hope’s Garden.

Please give as God leads and pray with me that He will use this project to His glory.

A list of supporters will be provided to the Ecelbarger family.”

Please click here to make your donation — maybe you will be the one to win Hopes Garden!  If you would be so kind to link this post to your Facebook by clicking the icon below, just think how many people might want to participate!

Even if you are unable to contribute, your prayers are much appreciated.  Liz needs a miracle.  He is able.

Warmly,

Sheree

Leaving Rows of Chairs to Live Out Life…Face to Face

Last Thursday I shared some thoughts about the cultural shift from face-to-face care and support to looking for “hugs” from our computers.

This weekend I got to experience the joy of real face time firsthand. I attended The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference here in Orlando. It was a powerful time of teaching and worship led by Keith and Kristyn Getty. I heard messages by John Piper, Don Carson, Tim Keller, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and others. (Those messages will be available at no cost at TGC’s website soon: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org.) I was intensely inspired by women teachers — young and old, single and married, seminary professors and stay-at-home moms — whose messages were fueled by a contagious and robust commitment to studying theology and living in community where biblical truth is lived out. I want to be like them.

The rich and inspiring messages were powerful. The wonderful worship led by the Getty’s and their awesome band (including a violin, recorder, upright bass and accordion…I loved it!) was refreshing. But the sweet fellowship encouraged and inspired me as well.

One man said that Christian fellowship is when one believer shares what God is doing in his or her life with another believer. So simple!

This can happen in a brief chat in the hallway or during a lengthy heart-to-heart conversation over coffee or a meal. I enjoyed both this weekend:

  • I had lunch with a friend I’ve known for nearly 25 years who has been going through some weighty trials in her marriage. She admitted how hard the past three years has been, the heartache over wondering if she could continue to endure due to her husband’s lack of progress, the hopelessness and anger and sorrow…all leading to God’s faithfulness to bring hope and recent progress! I was able to thank her for her godly example during this season of suffering and encourage her desire to pursue repentance for things God has used this trial to reveal in her own heart. (One of the fruits of trials is how God uses them to gently and lovingly bring dross to the surface of our hearts. Such a gift!) What a joy to benefit from the life and example of this friend…face to face.
  • I was able to greet a godly woman whose ministry has benefitted me for years

    who I know has also been going through a lengthy season of difficulty and transition in her husband’s ministry. I thought to email her…but then decided to wait and look into her eyes to tell her I had been praying for her for the past year.

  • I unexpectedly saw the mutual friend of one of my dearest and closest friends who is also walking through a series of breathtaking trials in her family. Only God could have arranged for us to “happen” upon one another at a conference of 35oo women! It brought comfort to my heart to receive her hug, hear of her warm affection for our friend, and to also hear she and her husband will be with my friend and her husband this week to extend care and love. I can’t be there…but this woman can.  How kind of God to arrange that encounter.
  • I had dinner with some Redeemer Girls (ladies from our church who attended the conference) and heard what the Lord was stirring in their hearts through the messages and worship. As the oldest woman at the table, I loved observing their humility. Excitement about hearing biblical truth. Joy in buying books about godly womanhood, marriage, parenting, children’s ministry and theology. And I was inspired by their discerning and insightful questions about some of what they were hearing. How I love them.
  • And then, on the drive home with one of my New Girls (a daughter-in-law), I was moved to tears by some brief yet warmly heartfelt words of encouragement she shared with me in our driveway. Icing on the cake after a spiritually invigorating weekend.

Yesterday morning I skipped the final session of the conference to be with Redeemer Church. Something in my heart drew me back to the people with whom I’m walking out life. I want to take the things I learned and make them real. To apply the gospel in real-life relationships. To demonstrate the infectious love for sound doctrine and the humility I observed at this conference in normal life with fellow sinners. The Gettys weren’t leading worship and Don Carson wasn’t preaching. But Kyle and Benny did a great job. I was glad to be home with my church.

Sitting in rows hearing teaching and entering into worship is a precious gift from God. But that’s not all there is to being a Christian. When the teaching and worship is over we leave conference hotel or church building — or, in the case of our new little church, the Martial Arts Studio! — and live it all out face to face.

If not, how do we know if we’re really getting it?

Wanna Attend a Conference This Weekend…In Your Living Room?

This weekend some of the ladies from our Redeemer Church are attending the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference right here in Orlando.  I have been eagerly anticipating this conference for the fellowship and teaching. Look who will be here:

John Piper. Tim Keller. Don Carson. Elyse Fitzpatrick. Susan Hunt. Mary Kassian. Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

If you aren’t coming to Orlando for the conference you can still attend!  That’s right, you can view the live stream at the GC website:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/

Once you click on this link you will see the stream connection.  It’s easy.  How gracious of them to provide this! The pre-conference begins at noon today and continues until noon on Sunday. You can view the full schedule at their website.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sheree

My Computer Doesn’t Give Hugs

Yesterday I mentioned a helpful blog where my friend found some great homemaking tips. I enjoys blogs, and am obviously a blogger. Yet I have some musings about all this…

Technology has advanced more rapidly than I can keep up with — even though I work for my son who owns a technology company! The internet, skype, cell phones, facebook, twitter and email have made information and people accessible to everyone.  When google showed up on the scene it made instant information about any subject available 24/7. There, I can find an answer (not always a good one) to any question and find tips on any subject.

There are aspects of this I love!  Facebook allows me to connect with friends in meaningful ways and see and share family pictures; I can text family or friends with a quick question or “I’m praying for you”; and I can do a quick internet search to order flowers to send to a friend.

But relationships weren’t designed to be done by computer.

The interdependence by which God designed His people to live can certainly be supplemented by an encouraging email or thoughtful text. But when we spend more time in front of a computer or holding a cell phone than in face to face interaction with others something is amiss.

I’m glad my friend, Liz, found such good ideas on a homemaking blog. But believe me, she is the last person to depend on technology to connect with people. She would much rather chat over coffee than type on a keyboard.

I’m not anti-technology. I use my cell phone and iPad regularly  and often spend more time on my computer than is wise. There’s more safety, ease, quickness and self-protection in asking for prayer with a facebook status than stopping to call a friend. After all, she is probably too busy to answer my call anyway — and what if she asks the kinds of questions about why I need prayer that results in a lengthy, risky or humbling phone call? What if she picks up on the sinful attitudes I’m having? Or…hmmm…at times she can be a little quick to give (good!) advice rather than just patiently hearing me out and I just need someone to listen right now. Oh, and I really don’t have time to get into it all over the phone..and let’s see…it’ll be a week from tomorrow before we could meet for coffee.

Yep, I’ll just do the quick and safe facebook route…or should I send her an email?

So when it’s time for help or tips on homemaking, powering up the computer is a good option. But the impartation that happens when women sit face to face and share heart to heart is something a computer can’t provide.

A few days ago a first-time dad texted me with some breastfeeding questions for his exhausted wife concerning their just-born daughter. We had a phone chat and two days later the challenges continued. The baby was losing more than an average amount of weight and her new parents (and their pediatrician) were concerned. Technology had served its purpose but it was time for this new Mommy to get a hug and some help from a few experienced mothers.

I called one of my daughters-in-law who also had some very challenging issues with nursing her newborn just over a year ago, and she contacted a dear friend who is a lactation specialist. This compassionate friend had supported Lauren through weeks of painful breastfeeding, calling and stopping by regularly to offer practical advice and encouragement — resulting in Lauren having to wean her baby girl over a year later.

Within hours Jaime, Lauren, Heather and I visited this new mommy and her beautiful baby girl, armed with Heather’s “cadillac” breast pump, hugs, prayers and encouragement.  When she took her baby into the pediatrician just over a day later she had gained over one-half pound and was peeing and pooping constantly. Her exhuasted parents are nevertheless relieved and happy.

Cell phones coordinated all of this — but skin to skin, face to face contact is what made the difference.  Heather wasn’t content to talk to Stacey over the phone. She wanted to see what was happening; patiently coach her; and give eye to eye encouragement. It’s not about whether Stacey continues breastfeeding or decides to use formula to grow her daughter. It’s about women caring for other women one hug and word of encouragement at a time.

So let’s use technology for the blessing it can be. But let’s not substitute it for the kind of life-giving face to face ministry that humbly says, “I need help. Can we talk?”

I texted the new parents earlier to see how their night went. Hmm….I’m gonna call them and see when I can stop by.

Waking up to a Clean Sink

I interrupted the series on homemaking to share some personal stuff and now want to return to and complete that series.  So here we go..

Last week I was spending time with a dear and longtime friend who is battling cancer. As we sat together while she was receiving her chemo treatment I was yet again inspired by how seemingly effortlessly she thinks of others before herself. This time, she was talking about a blog she was reading recently to get homemaking tips.

Homemaking tips? When you’re struggling with a life threatening disease? Battling chronic fatigue and the side affects of toxic drugs? Struggling with understandable fears about your future?

Liz’s heart for her home still comes through. She was telling me how the blog encourages homemakers to pick one project a day to tackle. It could be as simple as reorganizing a junk drawer or making it a point to make your bed first thing in the morning. She read a tip there that suggested that she clean out and wipe down her sink each night. Even if the dishes are just rinsed and put on the counter to load into an already-full dishwasher the next day, she talked about how good it felt to have a clean sink to wake up to.

I  am often inspired by how my friend is navigating the turbulent waters in which she finds herself, and this day was no exception. Her heart to care for her home came through even as the chemo drugs were flowing through her veins.

I’ve been thinking about our conversation since then. While I believe it’s critically important to put the horse of heart attitudes about homemaking before the cart of practical ways to make our homes the priority the Bible teaches (see more about that here), the fact is this: being a passionate and effective homemaker requires both planning and work.

Liz can’t do heavy cleaning anymore. But she can usually rinse her dishes and wipe out her sink. She found something she could do regularly, rather than reaching for something too ambitious. You may not have a chronic or terminal disease, but there are other providential limitations that prevent you from keeping a sparkling house everyday. (Do you know anyone who can? I don’t!)

I am finding help in what I’m calling the Project/Habit approach to homemaking these days. Before I go to sleep each night I choose one project to do the next day that will take no more than 15- 30 minutes:

  • Clean the ceiling fans (I have some really dusty ones in my house!)
  • Move the couches and vacuum under them
  • Reorganize the linen closet
  • Straighten the pantry
  • Clean the windows (living in a one-story house makes this possible in less than 30 minutes)
  • Dust all the pictures on my walls
  • Organize the drawers and under-the-sink area in a bathroom
  • Scrub the shower doors

I’ve also picked one habit to focus on weekly. Here are some suggestions that I’ve found helpful over the years to get your own thoughts moving:

  • Reminding myself of the “don’t put it down, put it back” rule a friend taught me years ago. This means I can always find the scissors, kitchen clean up is much

    easier, and the dog leash is hanging right where it’s supposed to. (Something I continue to work on to this day!)

  • Making my bed right away each morning. (Even if my dresser isn’t tidy and there are other things in our room that need to be put away, having a made bed helps me get my day started off well.)
  • Tidying up the living area before I go to bed. (When I wake up to a mess it’s demotivating and discouraging.) One lady I know calls this “putting your house to bed each night.”

Do you have things going on in your life that tempt you to feel that homemaking is something you just can’t focus on at this time? Then maybe you can remember my friend, Liz.

Caring for our homes is possible in even the most challenging, busy or stressful seasons of life. Liz is a wonderful example that homemaking begins in the heart. And sometimes it’s just expressed by waking up to a clean sink.

The Princess and False Teeth

I called him the Pillsbury Dough Boy because for as long as I can remember he was chubby and would chuckle when I found the tickle spot under his chin.  I also can’t remember a time he didn’t have false teeth. Back in the day I guess dentists were quicker to put teeth than they are now. I’m glad.

One morning when I was in high school Mom and I decided to play a trick on Daddy. While he was sleeping, I took the false teeth he soaked in cleaning solution every night out of the container in their bathroom and replaced them with a set of miniature plastic teeth I paid 25 cents for from a vending machine. Mom hid his real teeth and I headed to the shower to get ready for school.

When I got out of the shower Mom said Dad was in his shower and would be discovering his miniature teeth soon.  We waited. And waited. Finally, I had to leave for school disappointed that I hadn’t heard the “Elsie! Sheree! Where’s my teeth?!?!”

I couldn’t wait to get home to hear what happened. But Mom was stumped. After I left that morning she went downstairs to help my paralyzed older brother get going for the day. When she came back upstairs dad had left for work. The little teeth were still in the solution and his regular teeth were still in the hiding place Mom had chosen.

Dad had gone to work toothless?!?

I heard his car pull up and called for Mom. She and I ran to the kitchen to pretend we were finishing up dinner. I had taken the 2 feet long chunky wooden fork and spoon off the wall in the kitchen to put beside his dinner plate just to finalize the day’s antics. She and I stood grinning, waiting for him to come in.

He came in; yelled a greeting; and headed back to their room to change. Soon he appeared at the dinner table, sat down without saying a word, offered a small smile at his huge cutlery (making sure to maintain pursed lips), bowed his head and said “let’s pray.” He thanked the Lord for his family…and for the extra set of teeth he had picked up last week at the dentist.

That was Daddy.

He had a wonderful sense of humor and was the most chivalrous man I knew. He didn’t want Mom or me to mow the lawn; took our cars to get gas as often as he noticed or heard the gauge was low; opened doors for all the ladies; and named me “Princess.” In fact, I don’t ever remember him using my name.

He “dieted” by heaping loads of salad clumped with dressing on his plate and snuck food from the kitchen while we weren’t around. He even liked to chomp on frozen hotdogs! Yep. You read it right. He liked his coffee “blonde and sweet”, said with a twinkle in his eye. He probably lost 400 pounds during the last 10 years of his life but each time he lost weight his “dieting” put it all back on before long.

He served. Oh, he served. For years, he drove an old school bus to pick up kids for church on Sunday mornings…and believe me, that was the cleanest bus on the church lot. He was the first “sound man” I knew — driving all over the Washington, DC area to lug equipment and make sure New Covenant (the little Christian band Benny and I sang in with a few friends in the 70’s) sounded good.

Daddy was also very generous and caring. Money was tight in our family growing up and Mom depended on Dad getting a work bonus to buy Christmas gifts. It was about a week before Christmas in 1971 and Mom was eager to get ahold of that $300 bonus Dad said was coming. The day he got it our little church had our Wednesday night service. One of the deacons stood up and spontaneously said he thought we should take an offering to bless Pastor Day for all his hard work starting a new church that year.

Mom’s Christmas money ended up in the collection plate that night. When Dad came home to tell her, he was beaming. He felt so good about blessing Pastor Day and just knew Mom would be, too.

He was wrong. Mom was mad. She was a wonderfully generous person who gave incessantly to others, but giving away the Christmas money she had been depending on put quite a damper on Dad’s gift. I, too, was thinking, “You gave away our Christmas?!?!?” Poor guy. He really did think we would all rejoice along with him!

His caring heart extended to animals, too. Let’s see, there was the “brown” mutt he brought home that turned white after his first bath; the hound he promised wouldn’t grow into his paws that ended up being nearly the size of a Great Dane; the stray poodle mix with bladder issues that tinkled everywhere she went; the boxer we named “Trumpet” because…well…that doesn’t take much explanation…to name a few.

And then there were Charlie and Sam, the two “male” cats he brought home one night from the gas station he was working at several nights a week.  He cut a cat hole into the storage area on the carport for them, and two weeks later they each had 7 kittens.

My favorite memory with dad was learning how to drive in his little Volkswagon bug, his first and only company car. In his younger years he raced stock cars, so Daddy knew cars inside and out.  His idea of teaching his daughter to drive was to wait for snow. He wanted me to learn in the worst of conditions, knowing it would make good conditions easier. The lesson ended with me doing donuts in the parking lot as Dad congratulated me for being “a chip off the old block.” Years later his lessons paid off when he found a pretty black Chevelle 396 convertible for Benny and me. No guy who tried could out run me and my Hurst shifter.  (Sadly, we had to sell it after 4 months because of Benny’s 4 speeding tickets…smile.)

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for honoring Daddy by reading a little about his life. His death when I was 23 was one of the hardest things this Princess has faced. Today I’m reminded that I will see him again…soon and very soon.

Praying for Provision

Just a quick and simple post today asking for prayer for an important business meeting today at 3 PM EST. Some of you know I do Client Management from home for my son, Josh. He is the majority owner of ProVisionIT and employes Jesse, Joey, Jake and I, along with several other wonderful technicians. We provide IT support to small and medium sized businesses.

Josh and I have a meeting this afternoon that would bring provision to ProVisionIT.

If you think of us, would you pray for favor?  How comforting to know in these daily life situations that God is in control and nothing will stop His providential plan. But He allows us to participate by praying.  Wow.

Thank you so much!

Sheree

P.S. You can find us at http://www.provisionit.com in case you know of any businesses in Central Florida who might need IT support.  In fact, not just Central FL.  We’re looking for clients with 10-200 employees in the Tallahassee and Tampa areas, too!

My Legacy Curriculum

Yesterday would have been Mom’s 86th birthday. Since her death in July 2000, I have missed her greatly. But for some reason, this year it hit harder than in recent years.

One of my favorite pics of her…so typical.

Missing her has been tempered by a deep-rooted joy in knowing she is in heaven. Mom had a genuine, tested-by-fire and saving faith in Jesus Christ. I was there when she met her Savior as children and grandchildren worshiped around her hospital bed. And her final words have helped me through some weighty trials over the past 13 years: “God is in control and everything He does is good.”

Over the past week my thoughts of Mom have produced musings about the legacy I want to leave for My People. I want my life to count for those I will never meet in this life. Mom died before any of my eleven and counting grandchildren were born. But her life has influenced theirs through my children and me. How? Here are just a couple of the ways…

We love to laugh. Especially at each other.

Mom (far right) with Aunt Ocie and Aunt Vergie on Jaime’s 13th birthday.

Hardly a day passed without Mom calling one of her sisters to tell them some hilarious (to her, at least) story about one of her grandchildren. Sometimes I used to stand at the door of the little apartment we added onto our home just to hear her “die laughing” with one of the Aunts about some antic or silly saying by one of the kids. Her ability to find and enjoy humor in everyday life situations taught me to do the same…and one of our favorite things to do as a fam is tell exaggerated stories about one another. We love to laugh because of her.

One of the many showers she helped me with!

Food isn’t just to keep us alive.

Being raised during the depression affected Mom in several ways, and one of them was the cherished place food had in being a family. Everything was homemade with very few written recipes. Except for the Stove Top dressing. Mom had me in the kitchen at a young age making fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, pies, mac and cheese, pineapple upside cakes and chicken n dumplings. And cooking was a fun event, not a duty.Because of her, our holidays, birthdays and just-hang-out-for-no-reason times always involve lots of food and lingering around the table laughing and talking.

We cherish family…a lot.

Mom grew up with 7 siblings who she loved and stayed connected to throughout her life. Her sibs were her closest friends. They turned to each other for help, comfort and laughs. After Daddy’s death from a heart attack when she was just 49, Mom’s relationships with other couples waned and my aunts and uncles took even more of a front seat in her life. They argued, disagreed, fussed, gossiped and got angry…but the phone call was eventually made to be reconciled. She was the one who first told my little Joshua and Jaime, “You need to be nice to each other because your friends will come and go but you will have each other for the rest of your lives.”

How many grandmothers do “dress alike” with their 3-year-old grandson? (May 1981, Josh age 3)

A few nights ago when Josh texted Jake at 10 PM wondering why in the world he hadn’t come over the watch a game with him, I smiled.  I reminded him that this is what happens when you grow up in a litter. The puppies love being together. We have Mom to thank for that.

We want to trust God and persevere through trials.

Mom lived a life of suffering and sacrifice. She dropped out of school at age 12 to clean homes to help support the family; raised her youngest brother as her own when she and Dad were just starting their own family; lost several children to miscarriage; worked nights as a waitress to bring in extra money; watched one brother die in a house fire and another to brain cancer; cared for my older brother after he was left paralyzed at age 21 in a swimming accident; lived with chronic pain for most of her life before and after 7 back and neck surgeries; and lost my dad just 8 months after my brother died at age 27.

Yet her smile and veracious commitment to serving others remained through it all. In her early 70’s she accepted a job to be the companion of “an old lady” (of 80) — and

Vacationing in Cape Cod with us in 1996.

came home with funny stories (like the time this dear woman was confused about the Grand Canyon being in New York City). Through pain and declining health she babysat grandchildren, made biscuits and fried apples for whoever was craving them, taught me how to start Thanksgiving prep days in advance, reached out to neighbors with food or help with their own aging parents…without a complaint.

It’s an amazing thing to watch my children mirror the persevering love for God we observed in Mom. As they’ve gotten older, I have brought them in on her story more

Her favorite times were when all her kids and grandkids were together (1988 at Fairfax Covenant Church, Fairfax, VA)

and more. To them, she was Nannie: vibrant, fun, loving, involved, and cheering them on at basketball games (even when Janelle was running down the court about to score for the other team). Because of her faith and joyful trust in God, they knew nothing of her life of suffering. But they did know that she and her sisters climbed up onto the roof of their little house and threw the cat off repeatedly to find it if it would indeed have nine lives.

I have my legacy curriculum. God, by Your grace and power help me to pass on to my people what she passed on to me.