Tag Archives: children

IF I HAD A SONG

“If I had a song
I’d sing it in the morning
I’d sing it in the evening
all over this land…”

I’ve firmly decided.

I’ve been singing the wrong song, and God gave me the wrong kids.

I know – God doesn’t make mistakes and since it is His song I sing, I guess that can’t be wrong either.  Even when I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open to say my final night prayers, I hear mom and dad laughing over my whining-praying-for-my-kids- mode.  Clearly – I hear mom’s laughter the loudest.  Maybe this is because when she was on a roll, her laugh could cross a room and find my ears no matter how crowded it was. But it is, most likely, because during her last years of life, she would laugh (over my whining complaints), “Oh you totally are getting what you deserve.” I knew she was loving that moment —- ALOT!

I think I usually stomped out of her house, went home and took it out on hubby.

“We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.” Ps 78:4

My youngest “child” (and I do use that term lightly since she is in her 30’s) is getting ready to wind her way east as she heads to graduate school at Columbia in NYC.  She will be camping for the next month with her dog and spouse  – in a tent – “all over this land”.

Seriously?  A month in a tent? Can you see me rolling my eyes?

While on the other hand, my eldest “child” is wrapping up a similar camping trip in a camper with his spouse and four teenagers.  Being the elder, he has up-graded from the tent phase.  But still – 4 teenagers?  Oh my – how can they do this to their mother?

“I’d sing out danger.
I’d sing out a warning.”

As I rest in my Father’s tent, he brings forth that buried memory of one of my own

summer 1972a

c. summer 1972

camping trips.  Ah yes – there was more than one journey –  a tent – in parks even less developed than they are now – sleeping under the stars with no ambient lighting – anywhere near us – seeing and trying to comprehend things I had never seen before.  I was even younger and probably – (nah – forget the ‘probably’ – insert: ‘assuredly’) much more foolish.  Those youthful years brought the same rock to my stomach that I feel today. Reminiscent times. A time spent still mourning the loss of my earthly father’s tent and trying to find my heavenly Father’s tent…

“I’d sing out love between
my brothers and my sisters,
all over this land”

Journeys take many steps – a week full  – a month full – sometimes – years and years of steps. They take many different shapes and forms as we journey into ivory towers, primeval forests, beyond-belief-canyons, endless starry nights, dilapidated neighborhoods, overly bright sunny days, while we live in tents of differing shapes, textures and dimensions.

“The LORD appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. 2He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.” Gen 18:1-2

The important thing is to keep making the journey.  Like Abraham, who opened his tent in all directions looking for visitors on a hot day – even the hottest day of the year – the journey becomes a life event that changes us and the world we touch.  Abraham became the father of a nation as he spread his knowledge, wisdom and faith in His Father. As we venture out – open our tent flaps – we are not only learning – we are blessing the world with who we have become.

I may not like being away from home much these days or into camping (tent or otherwise) for any length of time, but I am still opening my tent flaps and waiting to entertain the strangers when they approach my tent flaps.  It is my journey and – – – I guess God was right all a long.  The song I’ve been singing and the “crazy kids” He attached to my life are exactly the right ones for me.  Sometimes God just needs a hammer to get it through my thick head.

 

 

2 of 7: LOVE

2 of 7: LOVE. “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” ~Charles Dickens.

After teaching A Christmas Carol for so many years, there are lots of Dickens quotes that I LOVE. He was able to put into words what the rest of us just saw as anmom's stocking accepted reality without questioning ‘why’ it was an accepted reality. Children understand the beauty of the Christmas story even better than we do. Children LOVE easier than we do.  We have way too many everyday doubts and issues circling around us to see the unparalleled gift that was given on that night so long ago…LOVE that was given so long ago. But I also believe that our elders fall into this category. Some of the most special memories I have of my mom were during those last few years she spent upon this earth. She was so full of stories and LOVE that I couldn’t wait to go pick her up and bring her to the house (except when there was a bunch of snow and ice on the road…then – not so much). Usually we would sing Christmas carols all the way to the house or talk about her memories of past Christmases. She would tell me the story of her Christmas stocking every year, and it still hangs right beside mine. Just LOVE that stocking and the memories of the Christmases that it has seen since 1919.

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismissd your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

God honors children, elders or any of us who makes time to look for Him – in a stable – in a stranger’s face – in our enemy. God honored Simeon’s request to see the Savior before he died. The thing I really LOVE about this story is that God did His usual – He went above and beyond giving Simeon the dream he requested. He LOVED Simeon and blessed him greatly. Simeon actually held the Savior in his arms – kissed His downy head – and I imagine – dropped a few tears upon His tiny form as well. A baptism of salty water that would begin a sacred journey upon this world that was so unworthy of Christ’s presence. LOVE begats LOVE.

Cookies, Carols, Children, Characters, Christmas. Five C’s that take on a whole new connotation during our holyday season. Colored lights erupt in sporadic bursts. Magic circles swirl through the air. Elves hide behind every tree. Secrets float just beyond earshot. Presents pile up under the tree, while dormant dreams suddenly seem to slip from their slumbering state into a possible reality…for Simeon…for children…for you. It’s all about LOVE at Christmas —– or at least —– it should be.simeon

art by Ron DiCianni

 

Attitude of Gratitude #1-7

Thanksgiving is all about the giving of thanks.  As we approach the holy days of Advent, November seems to be the perfect time for An Attitude of Gratitude.

300px-Hands_of_God_and_Adam

Gratitude #1: Just remember – everyone doubts themselves at one time or another. In 1509 while working on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo wrote: “My work does not seem to go ahead in a way to merit anything. This is due to the difficulty of the work and also because it is not my profession. In consequence, I lose my time fruitlessly.” Just smile, keep looking up and doing what you love. God reaches out constantly – you just have to reach back. I am thankful. Let the holiday season begin.

Gratitude #2: “Remember the Sabbath…” I LOVE Sundays. I love being Rabbi Bradley Shavit ARtson pic“commanded”(#4) to relax and observe this sacred day. I love a church that reminds me I’m not alone in a storm because Jesus walks out to be with me, so “DON’T BE AFRAID!” (Matt 14:22-27). I love when the Grands call me three times because I’m taking too long coming over to see their tent or read the dinosaur counting book we made last spring or play “This is the way the farmer rides – hobble-de-hoy” or leave so they can play WII with mommy and daddy before bedtime. Sundays are “holy observances” in Jewish tradition. Sundays are the blessing that start my week. Sundays remind me to be so thankful to have Sundays.

Gratitude #3: The sweet things in life. Left over, frozen,Halloween candy in the form of miniature Reese’s cups. A husband planning a surprise mini-trip to the beach. Puppies, who are not so minature, curled up on the couch with me when I need a mini-nap. Grands that scream and jump up and down when they see me sweet-things (2)walking up to their school or curl into me as we read stories. Laughter of a kid who understands a new concept. A Savior who embodies “Amazing Grace”. Sweet!

Gratitude #4: Thankful for the the Republic of the United States of America. So thankful that our fore-fathers knew the difference between a republic and democracy (even though we seem to have forgotten it). Thankful for all the responsibilities of researching, gaining knowledge, seeking spiritual guidance, and making the effort to vote. Thankful for those who have made sacrifices so that I can express my opinion in the voting booth. Thankful to VOTE.freedom to vote

“The genius of a nation strikes but once in its history. It is its glory and its immortality in the annals of men. It is aristocratic, discriminating, radiant and selective, and abjures all that is mediocre, plebeian and mundane. It is regnant. It is spiritual. It is the flame emanating from the core of the Universe, which is the generation of life. It is the lightning which sets fire to the small spirits of men, and raises them above the field and the plow, the house and the hayfield, in a sudden revelation of grandeur. It is, above all, masculine, for the aristocracy of the soul is purely masculine and never feminine, which is concerned only with petty matters and insistent trivialities. It transcends the humbleness of daily living and stands even the least important of men upon Olympus for a brief hour. It is never democratic, for democracy is a destructive thing, conspired in the inferior minds of envious men.
“If that nation which would survive in glory would cultivate only the masculine principle its name in history will be written in gold and blaze through the centuries.” ~Zeno of Elea, The Glory that was Greece as quoted by Taylor Caldwell in her foreward of Glory and the Lightening

Gratitude #5: Ocean. The immense power and beauty of the ocean never fails to download (1)amaze me. It is little wonder that Rabbi Yeshua used the seas and storms in so many of His parables. The storms’ wildness that calls to our own natures. The harmonies that sings 24 hours of the day. The habitat that it provides to a world downloadbeyond my knowledge. His essence is still singing through each wave, melding His love a little deeper into my soul…I am, indeed, thankful.

Gratitude #6: Music in my head. For about a week, I have been waking up with songs in my head. They sing me awake and stay in my mind for the first few hours of my day. Sometimes they are the hymns that have swirled around my head since before I knew what they were. Sometimes, they are simple phrases from Praise songs that I sing on Sunday or listen to in my car. And some of the best are the ones sung to me in my dreams with words I don’t know, but harmonies that echo in my heart and head all day. Blessings abound when we are thankful. This one was the way I woke up today.

Gratitude #7: Children. Children have a way of looking at things that change us on a daily basis. They see the invisible and believe in the magic that lives in between here and there. They dance to music that only they can hear. They laugh when rain falls on their face and hide under the covers when the thunder gets too scary. They are constantly watching and modeling the things they see around them. And – they remind me that I need to be the best I can be in this world, because – one day – they will be the ones that new children are following, and I am relying on in my old age. I’m grateful that I still have children in my life because every day I’m around them—-I learn something new. So thankful for children. “If we experienced life through the eyes of a child, everything would be magical and extraordinary. Let our curiosity, adventure and wonder of life never end…” Akiane Kramarik

akiane-child-life

photos: Google images and Akiane Kramarik

 

Grandma Mac

“My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.” Prov 3:1-2

Long ago, children were raised by a village.  Family was all around.  Teachers could be found on every little street, church and school.  Good teachers hold a special place in our memories.  Sometimes those memories swirl around in our head and emerge to remind us of some knowledge that we gained because of that one person.  One of my favorite Grandma Macteachers was Grandma Mac.  There are so many memories of this lady.  Mother 0f 8 and an additional still-born set of twins.  Strong matriarch after her husband died.  Loving Grandma.  There was nothing better than stopping to see her when I was out riding my bike or walking home from school. Her kitchen was full of aromas that never came out of our kitchen at home.  (Mom may have been her daughter, but she never could manage to cook like her mama.)   Homemade noodles, cookie jars full of un-burned sweetness (mom always “overcooked” cookies), chocolate-meringue-topped pies, sauerkraut setting on the back porch with the wine bottles brewing..and on and on and on.

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.”  Prov 17:6

In those days, we could ride our bikes all around our small town…day into night…at least…until the car horn beeped three times or the fireflies lit our way home.  Parents never worried about what we were doing; they knew that neighbors were always keeping their eyes open for mischief, and I could get spanked from them Grandma Mac retirementas well as mom or dad. Inevitably, there were the stops at Grandma’s house – especially after she got home from working at the Flxi (Flxible Bus Company). If she was not home yet, I would wander around her kitchen garden, sit on the porch and read my favorite book of the day, or explore the old barn behind her house.  To my way of thinking, the 50’s were the perfect time to grow up. Church on Sunday, family gatherings, bike rides, minstrel shows, a library full of books, and endless list of happy times, but at the top of that list was always Grandma Mac.

grandma's panYesterday, my daughter picked strawberries and shared some with us, so today I made shortcake. Grandma taught me her recipe as I stood on a chair by her side….flour, buttermilk, baking powder, butter, sugar and a touch of vanilla.  Sometimes she even patted it with powdered sugar as she put it in the baking dish…golden brown heaven covered with strawberries, homemade ice cream and real whipped creme.  Some of her grandma toolskitchen pictures and  tools remain in my own kitchen, and it makes me smile as I think about her hands holding the same ones that I hold.  Double boiler pan slightly colored on one side from our house fire several years ago, an porcelain funnel, a potato masher.  Simple things but so precious.

Memories bring us close to those who have traveled through this world before us.  They were our first teachers –  our touchstones.  Stones that are handled throughout many generations.  Stones that have been carved by the sharp knives of  knowledge, wisdom, and love.  Stones that are left behind for us to hold and treasure.  Now I have my own Grands, and already, they stand on chairs by my side.  We haven’t made any of  Great-Grandma Mac’s recipes…YET.  But summer looms ahead. and I think there will be a day – or hundreds of days – when we will chose one of her touchstones, carving a little more love into it, and passing on the skills that she passed to me.  And believe it or not, I believe the Grands will be teaching me much more than I am teaching them.

“At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.”  Luke 10:21me grandma 1954

 

Lenten Journey #15

Beautiful day today – just a little chilly – but the sky was that bright, beautiful, Tar Heel, NC blue…and I was picking up – are you ready for this??? – poop. Yup. It was the day to clean up the back yard where the chocolate sisters leave little piles of chocolate droppings.

Every now and then on our journeys in this life, we have to deal with the well…the piles of…lumpy…dried…runny…excrement. And – you know – once that chore is done, the yard is a beautiful place to walk barefoot…hmmm….wellllll…once it gets a little warmer.

Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach (Jewish word for ‘Jesus’ in the OJB translation) had a lot of “poop” to deal with on His journey towards Jerusalem. Multitudes begging…disciples quibbling…the Pharisees/Sanhedrin/etc trying to tangle His words…Satan’s temptations…demons tormenting. Today, maybe, I might have understood a little better how He felt when He went off by Himself and looked at what He had accomplished. The world was a little cleaner – a little fresher – a place where children could run barefoot and remember what life was like in Malchut HaShomayim (Jewish word for ‘heaven’).barefoot

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven’.” Matt 18:1-4jesus-with-children-1005