Helping clean!

Nana and Papa are on the way here!!

So, J is helping get the house ready for them to visit. She’s loving getting to clean her bathroom.

“This should be my job Mama” she just told me.

That works for me.

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Supply List

Our kiddo wants to make a space ship.

She created this supply list for me, complete with illustrations so that I can get her materials ready.

Marker box, big box, tape, scissors, pillows, long yarn.

It makes me wish she was still home all day so we’d have time to make it.

Some thoughts about a friend

Crenshaw info

Today being a Labor Day and also being part of the week that we celebrate and mourn together the life of Brother Crenshaw made me think about his love for his labor.

Many of us enjoy our labor. But fewer of us are lucky enough to have a job that we truly love. I think that Brother Crenshaw not only enjoyed his work, but he loved his labor. He saw the importance of following God and teaching others to do the same and he had the great honor of doing that for many, many years.

Evangelist just isn’t a big enough title for the work that he did. Preacher, pastor, friend, leader, teacher, motivator, encourager, patriarch, father, husband, uncle, pawpaw, and so many more are the titles that were used for him.

I think it’s pretty normal to think about the past times we’ve had with someone when they pass away. That’s what I’ve been doing over the last week since I received the news that his time here on earth had finished.

First I knew him through his daughter. We met during our college years and became friends and roommates.  I may not have known it at the time but I think much of her excellent work ethic was inspired by him. In the same way he tirelessly studied the Bible before sharing it with us, she focused on her studies and learned the material well. Whatever she was tasked with doing, not only did she do, but she did it well. I’m thinking much of that persistence came from observing him as she grew up.

Next I met him a handful of times as he visited her in California and then at her wedding. Though those times passed very quickly there was no mistaking his love for family. I could easily see it.

Then I moved to Oklahoma as a newlywed and worshipped with him at the Northeast Church of Christ. His passion for God’s Word was undeniable. Not only did he know it well, he also explained it well. The energy and passion he shared as he preached was engaging. At times it seemed he had most of the Bible memorized. Yes, he was holding one in his hand, but he sure seemed to just be quoting most of the time. I was encouraged by his obvious love for not only his church, but also for the surrounding area. He was passionate about finding ways to improved the daily lives of people, and he looked for practical ways to help do that.

While in Oklahoma I had the privilege of meeting more of his family. What a blessing! I could see his love of God had permeated his loved ones. The welcoming spirit that Brother Crenshaw shared with so many around the country had been passed on to his loved ones. They too were welcoming, focused on knowing God, and serving Him. It was cool to see his leadership in action both at church and in his family.

Then I had the privilege of reconnection last year after quite awhile apart. The peace that washed over me as I said hello and was welcomed with open arms was a true testament to the power of Christ in him. He lived out the sermons he’d preached about reconciliation, and I and my family benefitted from that living sermon.

Though struggling with significant health issues he built a relationship with my kiddo and loved on both of us. One example of his generosity and love in action: at Charlestons he had ordered salmon and broccoli. When my 4 year old said that she liked salmon, he immediately handed over a piece for her to sample. When she followed that up with “I like broccoli too” another forkful of food came her way. Yes, he shared right off his plate.

So, as I join many who are preparing to attend a wake and funeral services this week, I am thankful to have benefitted so much from this humble servant. I’m thankful for the way he labored and loved.

 

Time well spent

We’d only stopped 3 times so we went ahead and stopped in St. Louis. We were thinking about taking the tram up the arch but decided that would take too long and would be better to do when we have more time available.

Instead we checked out the old courthouse and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. It was pretty cool.

There wasn’t an admission fee, and the ranger told us about the junior ranger program. Joanna was really excited to work through some of the activities and earn her junior ranger badge.

In addition to checking out the neat paintings and architecture we also watched part of a movie about the Dredd Scott trial. That was a sobering moment in the journey.

We all learned a bit working through the activities. There was even a pledge for her when she earned her badge. So cool!

I love our family trips and taking time to enjoy the traveling journey together!

We love these pens!

(Joanna wanted to make sure that you know her picture isn’t finished yet, it’s the one with the candle. Mine isn’t done yet, either)

We bought some gel pens to take to our FriendsCamp in Natal, Brazil and we’re testing them out to make sure they work. These pens are AWESOME!

There are 108 different ones. Some even have glitter in them -glitter that makes your coloring shiny but doesn’t get all over the place. Amazing! And, the neon ones are super bright, like catch your eye across the room bright. We are really enjoying working with them.

I think we’re about to buy another set so that we have one for us to keep. Or, I may just wait till Joanna’s birthday. But, that’s a couple months away yet so we’ll see 🙂

Here’s a picture of the pens in case you want some too (or in case you want to send Joanna a set).

If you click on the picture it will take you to the Amazon link so you can take a look for yourself.

 

Excited about growth


See all that green? Good things seem to be happening out here!

We have had varying levels of “success” each summer with our garden. So far this year is looking good. There are even lots of green beans on that plant (hmm, that made me realize I don’t know how to know when they’re ready to pick – guess it’s time for some research)

In addition to enjoying the yummy food, I love that the garden is a family project. My dad helped shop and plant the plants, Joanna got to plant a few things and she prayed over it all, asking God to bless us with lots of good stuff to share. Morgan gets to help with the watering. And we all enjoy the produce!

Here’s hoping the weather and pests cooperate and the plants yield lots of good stuff to share. 

Thankful!

It’s so cool to see our kiddo excited about breakfast. These are the 2 eggs she picked this morning. 

She loves looking at all the choices and then telling me why she picked the one she did. 

Today it was all about the beauty. She selected these “because they were beautiful!”

I’m so thankful for our friends that share these eggs. We really appreciate it. Thank you!!

They’re yummy too 😋

Prayers of a 5 year old

Today in Bible class the preschoolers had a lesson about prayer based on a book called Praying in Color.

As you’d imagine, some of the kids were more into the activity than others. The idea was that instead of talking out loud to God they can doodle. As they create a shape and decorate it they’re thinking about the person they write in the middle and those thoughts become the prayers as their pencil does the drawing.

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It was so cool to see Joanna share her prayer with Morgan tonight before bed. She worked on it the whole time she was at the table. First she asked how to spell Kelly, as we went to her funeral last week so Joanna wanted to pray for her and those who are missing her. Then she asked how to spell Uncle Ben, I just gave her the letters for Ben and that was good enough. She prayed that he’ll quit smoking and make good choices. The blue letters going up on the right spell Grandpa -she’s praying that he’s healthy because he had a fever today. Next she moved on to people she’s thankful for and did Mom and Dad all on her own on the bottom. She finished it up with the blue and orange, spelling Uncle Tom. She has lots of aunts and uncles but he was on her mind today.

While the kids worked on their own pages I did one too. It was a surprisingly good experience for me. I’m thinking that today’s lesson may inspire on a new habit for me and Joanna. We could spend some time together working on our own booklet of prayers, taking a bit of time each day to doodle and pray. I love that it’s something that we can do individually and together at the same time.

Suicide: don’t do it!

Thirty years ago today my mother successfully ended her life.

There are lots of phrases people use when saying that someone died: “she passed away” “she moved on” “she died” “she killed herself” “she committed suicide” “she’s no longer with us” and more.

It’s interesting to note that years ago one of my brothers and I discovered that we both have responded the same when people push us about what happened. We were talking with a stranger and we mentioned she passed away and the other person said “what happened?” and we respond “she killed herself.” In those moments we aren’t trying to be gentle with the truth, we’re no longer protecting the nosy conversationalist or ourself, you asked and we answered. Chances are you have now learned a lesson and in the future let the one telling the story decide how much to tell. It may be we were protecting you from the harshness of the reality, or maybe we were protecting ourself from saying again what happened. In any case, when talking with someone, especially a stranger – let them tell their story their way! If they want to share details they will. If they’re leaving details out chances are they have a reason.

So, I have no idea what she was thinking. I can imagine some of what could make a woman who is 3 days shy of her 34th birthday decide being all done is more appealing than carrying on. But, as in any situation like this, she is only one that truly knows what motivated her decision. I do think that if she had any idea of the scope of difficult things that could follow her choice she may have reevaluated and decided to hang in there.

One of those hard things happened this week. My sweet 5 year-old (who never knew this grandma) and I were making sugar cookies. As she was excitedly mixing the dough with the electric mixed she looked up and said “did you make cookies with your mama?” I didn’t have a good answer. The truth is I have no idea. Chances are we did make cookies together in those 11 years she was present. But, I can’t picture it happening, I can’t recall a memory of standing together creating something yummy to share with others. I just can’t. So I answered as best as I could with an “I think so”. In the joy of the moment I’m hopeful my kiddo didn’t see the tear forming and sliding down my cheek. I believe it’s ok for her to know there are sad things. And she knows my mommy died when I was young, but I don’t want our fun moments to be tainted by this sadness that can pop up from time to time.

As tends to happen on anniversaries I am thinking of her today. Actually I began thinking about it when I reserved a car to be picked up on 12/7. That’s when it hit me that the 30 year anniversary was upon us. We made that reservation to be able to take a quick trip to Indy this weekend. One of my mom’s sisters has been battling cancer this year. Her daughter planned a “Holiday Bash (And F Cancer Party)” for Saturday night (which would have been mom’s 64th birthday). Figuring out how to go celebrate with them was tough. We’re in a period of searching for full-time employment for Morgan and our car just can’t make the trip, and we usually turn that 11 hour drive into at least 16 hours. So, there were lots of reasons that it may just not work to be there. But I kept thinking about it and wanting to make it work. In the end we decided traveling to celebrate with family while my aunt is still living would be better than making the trip once she’s passed. So we hit the reserve button on the car and began making arrangements to be gone for the long weekend.

I just told my kiddo that I’m writing about my mom since she died 30 years ago today. “Are you sad?” “A little bit”. “Ahh, I wish she could have stayed and meet me”. “Yep, me too”.

So, while I don’t have many memories of fun holiday stuff with my own mom and for years this time of year has been difficult due to her death and birthday, I’ve decided that enjoying today is important. I get to decide whether to let the past cast a shadow and take over today or whether I want to have a day of good times. And, I’m intentionally choosing joy. I’ve decided to celebrate this season with my husband and kiddo. I get to make up our own traditions that let us have fun together. With some time and energy we’re having a blast watching movies, decorating the house, drinking hot chocolate, baking cookies to share, decorating ornaments to give, and just relishing the time we have to be together having fun.

It was easy to spend a lot of years just wishing December would finish up so the sadness would pass. But, many years ago I decided that over a decade of that was enough. I took some time processing, thinking, praying, and deciding to move forward with a new perspective. I’m so glad I did! Doing that work on myself made it a whole lot easier/more possible to have a good December. I’m able to embrace the fun of the season like I couldn’t before. And, I didn’t have to figure all that out with a kiddo by my side.

So, if you’re still reading my rambling thoughts and having a tough day: hang in there! We can all choose joy. Don’t give in to depression -deciding to end your life can make life a whole lot harder for others, for some you may not even know yet.

 

He’s home!

We’re glad Morgan was able to attend WordCamp US, but we’re even more glad he made it back home.

Joanna knew that a plush Wapuu was part of his swag and asked to sleep with it tonight. She’s excited to snuggle Wapuu just slightly less than she is excited to snuggle Daddy.

Yay for sweet reunions!