Going to Grandma’s House

“Over the river and through the wood, to Grandmother’s house we go! The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow…”

So begins the famous poem penned by Lydia Maria Child in 1844. I remember no horse-drawn sleigh or drifty snow, but I do remember singing this joyfully with my mama on the way to Grandma’s house.

Nearly everyone likes to share memories of going to Grandma’s house. It’s a noteworthy destination. Like most folks, recollections of my grandma’s house include memories of what she cooked. Savory chicken and dumplings topped the list, followed closely by homemade noodles with roast beef, peanut butter and brown sugar sandwiches, and cherry chocolate cake.

At Grandma’s house, I remember quiet mornings reading through piles of Reader’s Digest or being fitted for pretty Easter dresses and warm winter sweaters Grandma was creating just for me. I remember spending lazy summer afternoons outside playing with a dog named Sue and spinning my big brother plum dizzy on the tree swing. And I remember evenings filled with fiercely competitive games of dominoes or cards — Grandma was always the scorekeeper — sometimes followed by an Eskimo pie for dessert.

But unlike other folks, recollections of my grandma’s house aren’t confined to any one particular house. That’s because my grandparents moved. A lot! It’s a wonder their issues of Reader’s Digest kept coming. I think I counted 10 address changes for my grandma just in my lifetime, including two moves out of state, as well as at least two RVs and a vacation home in Arizona for a while. I vividly remember my mama lamenting about all the times she had moved and had to change schools as a child, mostly before she finished elementary school. And I know Grandma moved several times as a child herself.

Grandma was always moving. And for me, the kid who spent her entire childhood living in the same red brick house on 27th Street, this moving thing was completely foreign. I never even moved bedrooms until I went off to college. I stayed put. And everybody else’s grandma stayed put, it seemed.

But my grandma didn’t stay put. She liked the adventure of moving somewhere new, and her face lit up as she described the rooms of the place she was moving to next. I remember her telling me all about the Coweta house before they moved into it. She told me about its bright sun room with south-facing windows and its sunken dining room with rich red carpet and an arched doorway. With rooms like that, it sounded more like a palace than a house!

Partly because she was always moving — but mostly because she was a very intelligent lady, valedictorian of her high school class — Grandma never had trouble with directions. I suppose Grandpa might firmly disagree with me here, particularly if we were discussing the direction from which a vacation photograph was taken. But from my perspective, Grandma always knew which way was north. And she always knew the way to get where she needed to go. She had no trouble tracking down her children and grandchildren, scattered far and wide in various states, long before the days of iPhones or Google maps.

One of Grandma’s favorite Bible verses, which she carefully referenced in the inside cover of the Bible she gave me at age 11 — was Proverbs 3:5-6. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” It’s no wonder Grandma knew the way. She had God giving her directions at every intersection!

Even though she never suffered from being directionally challenged, Grandma endured plenty of trouble in life. She was born in the middle of a fierce March snow storm in western Oklahoma. At a young age, she experienced the loss of her parents’ farm, thanks to a crooked banker. She persisted through the Great Depression and came of age during World War II. She raised chickens and three kids on a farm. And whether she was selling fresh eggs, transcribing business correspondence in shorthand, or posing high school seniors for portraits, Grandma put in many hard hours as a working woman and small business owner. After retiring, she lost her oldest daughter, my mother, to cancer. And in 2006, she lost her beloved husband Lloyd.


In this world Grandma had many joys and sorrows, plenty of work to do, and countless troubles to get through. But now she has left all that behind. She has moved yet again.

Jesus tells us in John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”

I would love to hear Grandma describe this new house with so many rooms. Is she feasting in a great dining hall with luxurious red carpet? What direction does the front of the house face? And how bright is the Son room where Jesus meets her face to face in all His glory?

The Reverend Billy Graham, who passed away exactly two weeks before Grandma, said this: “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

I wasn’t there for Grandma’s last moments here in this world of troubles, but the one word everyone in my extended family used to describe those moments was “peaceful.” Grandma has gone peacefully into the presence of God. She has changed her address one last time.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” These words of Jesus, as recorded in John 14:27, give me much peace as I remember and honor my grandma today.

 

Apple Pickin’ with Lacie

Re-posting this because it’s apple season again! Happy pickin’!

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One of our favorite traditions every fall is a field trip to the orchard a few miles down the road. We always go to pick Haralson and McIntosh apples for baking apple pies. But I really can’t tell you about our annual apple adventures without telling you about Lacie the Red Wagon, a faithful companion throughout most of our family’s 10 year history of apple picking.

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The first year we went apple picking as a family of four, my youngest was not yet walking, and so Lacie the Red Wagon helped haul her around the orchard. DSC_0855 She loved getting to chew on her very own apple, and legend has it that she ate the entire thing, stem and all.

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My oldest wasn’t quite 4 then and still preferred that we regularly address her as “Cinderella,” but she could already reach a few apples to pick right off the trees.

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I don’t remember exactly when or how it happened, but somehow the girls decided finding Lacie the Red Wagon among the fleet of more than a dozen wagons at the orchard was essential in our annual apple picking adventures.

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One year, the girls’ great-grandma came all the way from Oklahoma to visit us during apple season, and the girls were sure excited to introduce her to Lacie.

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Another year, my youngest was thoroughly enjoying a crunchy, fresh-picked apple in the orchard until she realized her wiggly tooth was suddenly missing — as in completely-never-to-be-found-because-she-swallowed-it lost.

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That was quite upsetting, and thankfully the wagon was able to console her with a ride as she adjusted to her new smile.

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Her sister’s teeth, meanwhile, were safely secured with braces.

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The next year, the smiles had changed again.

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Now my youngest is almost 9 and quite an experienced apple picker.

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My oldest is still delighted to help pick and especially enjoys climbing into the trees and up the trees.

fallbegins043x The trees have grown bigger now and the girls have grown so much taller. My baby barely fits inside a wagon these days! But Lacie the Red Wagon remains constant and faithful in hauling fresh-picked fruit, posing for pictures and helping us make memories. fallbegins 080

“Keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye.” Proverbs 7:

Let Heaven and Nature Sing!

Joy to the world! The Lord has come

Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room

And heaven and nature sing!

Joy to you this Christmas!

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Nature sang in 2015 as God blessed us with many memorable outdoor adventures like snowshoeing,

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snow skiing,

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ice skating,

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boating,

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swimming,

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and hiking.

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We delighted in God’s amazing creation while watching Trumpeter swans on the Mississippi River,

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spotting dolphins in the wild in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston,

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feeding wood ducks in the backyard,

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gazing at the gorgeous lilacs

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and the dazzling dahlias at the Arboretum,

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being wowed by a pair of red foxes up on the Gunflint Trail near the Boundary Waters,

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and admiring some of the 18 baby snapping turtles that hatched in our front yard flower bed.

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We tried to subdue some of God’s creatures during our too-close-for-comfort encounters with a snoozing nighthawk,

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bandit raccoons,

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a sleepy bat, an angry squirrel, a peeping goldfinch,

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a topsy-turvey mama snapping turtle, a strong-minded chipmunk and a brave back-to-school mouse that trapped itself inside our basement wall! Eeeek!

We also marveled at God’s wondrous creativity while gazing at the brilliant autumn colors,

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picking juicy apples,

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and plump pumpkins,

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and most recently, while picking a lovely-smelling balsam fir tree to decorate for Christmas.

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Romans 1:20 says,“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Nature clearly points to its wise and powerful Creator. And that lighted Christmas tree in my living room, it points heavenward, toward the Light of the World.

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It points to Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

May we all join heaven and nature in singing our praises to Him this Christmas and throughout 2016!

Merry Christmas!

 

Apple Pickin’ with Lacie

fallbegins061x

One of our favorite traditions every fall is a field trip to the orchard a few miles down the road. We always go to pick Haralson and McIntosh apples for baking apple pies. But I really can’t tell you about our annual apple adventures without telling you about Lacie the Red Wagon, a faithful companion throughout most of our family’s 10 year history of apple picking.

xfallbegins034x

The first year we went apple picking as a family of four, my youngest was not yet walking, and so Lacie the Red Wagon helped haul her around the orchard. DSC_0855 She loved getting to chew on her very own apple, and legend has it that she ate the entire thing, stem and all.

applepickin5

My oldest wasn’t quite 4 then and still preferred that we regularly address her as “Cinderella,” but she could already reach a few apples to pick right off the trees.

applepickin4

I don’t remember exactly when or how it happened, but somehow the girls decided finding Lacie the Red Wagon among the fleet of more than a dozen wagons at the orchard was essential in our annual apple picking adventures.

DSC_0041

applestrip2008b

fallNapples094

One year, the girls’ great-grandma came all the way from Oklahoma to visit us during apple season, and the girls were sure excited to introduce her to Lacie.

octoberoutings 004

octoberoutings 029

Another year, my youngest was thoroughly enjoying a crunchy, fresh-picked apple in the orchard until she realized her wiggly tooth was suddenly missing — as in completely-never-to-be-found-because-she-swallowed-it lost.

appleorchard 077

That was quite upsetting, and thankfully the wagon was able to console her with a ride as she adjusted to her new smile.

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Her sister’s teeth, meanwhile, were safely secured with braces.

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The next year, the smiles had changed again.

applepicking 043

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Now my youngest is almost 9 and quite an experienced apple picker.

fallbegins046x

My oldest is still delighted to help pick and especially enjoys climbing into the trees and up the trees.

fallbegins043x The trees have grown bigger now and the girls have grown so much taller. My baby barely fits inside a wagon these days! But Lacie the Red Wagon remains constant and faithful in hauling fresh-picked fruit, posing for pictures and helping us make memories. fallbegins 080 “Keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye.” Proverbs 7:2

“Is It Christmas, Mommy?”

PLEASE NOTE: Happy Advent! I’m re-posting this sweet tale from five Christmases ago.

 

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Every day this month, my youngest has asked at least once, sometimes more frequently, “Is it Christmas, Mommy?” I keep saying over and over, “Not yet! It’s Advent.”

For some reason, my answer isn’t getting through to her 3-year-old brain.

This afternoon I wrapped all of my gifts for the girls and my hubby while the girls were playing in their rooms. When my youngest came downstairs, I told her to look under the tree. She noticed the gifts but didn’t seem too excited. Then I explained that all the gifts in the red wrapping paper with gold stars belonged to her. Her eyes bugged out and she put the most shocked expression on her face. “For me! What did you put in them?” As if I would tell her!

I explained that the gifts would be a surprise that she would unwrap on Christmas Day. She started jumping up and down with the child-like Christmas excitement you’d expect from a 3-year-old.

Later the girls wrapped a gift for their daddy. They almost used all the Scotch tape in the process. When he arrived home from work, my oldest met him at the door reporting excitedly that she had wrapped a present for him and it was waiting under the tree. My youngest, not to be out-done in the reporting, said, “Yes, Daddy! We wrapped you a present! It’s pajamas!”

As you can imagine, big sister was pretty upset with little sister for ruining the surprise. Tears were shed. But I’m sure they both will be telling this story over and over again for Christmases to come; someday it will be funny to them.

My Golden Girl

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Frost said gold is nature’s hardest hue to hold. He was referring to spring’s earliest gold-green leaves. Nothing gold can stay, he said.

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Aye, fall’s golden leaves are nearly just as quick to flee. They linger just long enough for a photo or two.

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My baby, with her golden locks, celebrates her golden birthday the same week all the yellow leaves glow and glimmer in the trees. So we crown with her a golden wreath of laurel.

And we dig through a closet full of boxes to find the gold leaf tea set my grandparents used on their golden wedding anniversary more than 40 years ago.

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We set the table in shades of gold, pour amber-colored tea, and sing along with Britt Nicole as nearly a dozen kids masquerade through the living room. And the golden girl, she glows and shines.

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She lingers just long enough for a photo and a short interview because even golden birthdays cannot stay.

1. What makes you happy? That I’m turning 8! {Giggle.} I have another one for you. That I am going to heaven.

2. What makes you sad? That people get sick.

3. What makes you laugh? Daddy! And videos of my sister when she was little, like 2, running around the living room.

4. What is your favorite thing to do? I like to swim and read and play with my stuffed animals and dolls. I also like to nature bake.

5. What are you really good at? nature baking

6. What are you not very good at? Knitting and crocheting – that’s not my talent.

7. What is your favorite food and drink? I like Kraft macaroni and cheese and cream soda.

8. What’s your favorite color? Dark, dark green

9. Where is your favorite place to go? I like to go to the Children’s Museum.

10. Who are your best friends? Naomi, Noah, Grace, Joellen, Mommy, Daddy, my sister, and Jesus

11. What are your favorite movies or TV shows? Liberty Kids and The Emperor’s New Groove

12. What verses are you reciting lately? Philippians 2:1-6

13. What are some of your favorite books right now?  Cul de Sac Kids Series, Imagination Station Series, The Bible

14. Who are your favorite people? My grandparents and relatives

15. What are your favorite toys? Honey (my bear), my tea sets

16. If you were a character in Wizard of Oz, who would you be?  I would like to be Toto.

17. What does Mommy do when you’re not around? Wrap birthday presents!

18. What do you do when Mommy isn’t around? Go to ballet, piano, art class, play with my sister, play with babysitters, play with Daddy

19. What is something Mommy always says to you? “Goodnight, I love you!” “Good morning, I love you, but I’m busy doing my hair.”

20. What do you and Mommy do together? Read, hug, and bake

21. How are you and Mommy the same? We kind of have the same smile, like to bake, and we like to read, and we like to take pictures.

22. How are you and Mommy different? Mommy is a mommy. She has a computer. She has a phone. She has an iPod. Mommy can drive a car. I can play piano way better. I’ve caught fish and she has not.

23. How do you know Mommy loves you? Because she says it every night, and she hugs me and reads to me and I can just tell.