Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To Be Emptied ... To Be Filled

Christmas 2010 has come & gone.  It really seems like our family had just celebrated Christmas ’09 and then the following week we were celebrating Christmas '10.  I keep asking “where did the year go”, but the answer is the same – time marches on.  Year after year seems to pass by faster.  And with a toddler running around the house, my days go by at a much faster pace.  
Is it really possible that 2010 is already drawing to a close?

As our New Year of 2011 approaches, I realize that I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions.  Maybe I've said things such as ...

“I will be diligent in praying and reading my Bible everyday”
“I will lose the extra weight that’s been attached for the past 15 years”
“I will give more of my time to volunteering”
“I will get my house organized”
“I really will get old family pictures scanned & give the originals back to my Mother”
“I need to just be a better person altogether – be more positive, be more forgiving, be less critical”

But in reality, how long do New Year's resolutions really last?  A week ... two weeks ... or if I'm really industrious, maybe a month.  Perhaps I get caught up in everyday activities ... perhaps I need to manage my time more efficiently ... perhaps I get careless ... perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. 
Then frustration sets in that I haven't accomplished what I had resolved for the New Year.
 So this year I have a different resolution.  My New Year’s resolution encompasses every resolution I listed above --- plus ones that I haven’t even thought of yet.  When I taught middle and high school at a Christian school, my motto was

When we focus on God everything falls together,
But when we lose that focus everything falls apart.

Having God as my focal-point allows me to put my faith, trust and complete confidence in Him.  And to know that He works everything for His glory (Romans 8:28) No, this doesn’t mean that I will always get ‘my way’.  But it does mean that I will always get HIS best.  My attitude is then in alignment with His will.    

On the other side, when He is not my focal-point, my main motive is really anything but God’s glory.  For me, this is when I try to do things on my own – without God.  It’s like the old expression “trying to fit a square peg in a round hole”.  No matter how hard I try on my own, I end up frustrated and upset that I’m not getting my way.  Unfortunately, during these times I'm really saying to God “I don’t need you”.  (But in the depths of my heart, I know for a fact that I need Him above anything else).  
My whole attitude is just miserable at that point. 

So, I have actually begun my 2011 New Year’s resolution before 2010 comes to a close.  My resolve is to be emptied of all the empty things that consume me.  God and I are working on my “list” of empty things.  It’s a work in progress as He shows me unnecessary things that I need to let go.  I'm prepared for some growing pains, some stretching, and a lot of time on my knees.  Although I've already been shown a few things to let go of, I know there's plenty more to add to the list.  

My Granny always said that the day she quit learning would be the day that she was with Jesus.  Paul tells us in Philippians that He who began a good work in each of us will be faithful to complete it to the end.  I'm thankful that God loves me enough to continue to mold and shape me into the person He created me to be.  I'm ready --- with His help.

“Empty me of all the empty things that I hold on to, 
Come and fill my heart with You”


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Through the Eyes of a 2 Year Old

Granddad and I are sitting in the family room and unwinding after our Christmas weekend.  The weather predictions had changed in our area almost on a daily basis over the past week.  Up until Christmas Eve morning, we really had no idea whether we would be making our Christmas visit to Grandma & Grandpa's on the Eve or Christmas Day.  
We decided that we would take a last minute chance on the weather and go to G-G's on Christmas Day.  So, the 'Joes were able to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve.
(I'll post later on how to plan a Christmas Eve wedding within 2 weeks, do Christmas shopping/preparations, work full-time & brace for a new son-in-law's deployment within days of the wedding ... God is good!)  
So, Granddad & I took Lucy for a Christmas Eve breakfast to her favorite fast food place and last minute preparations for Christmas Day.

We passed by malls and shopping centers whose parking lots looked like seas of used cars, so we thought it not the best decision to take a 2 year old into such unorderly chaos.  No regrets whatsoever.  So, after breakfast, homeward bound for the last minute gift wrapping.  But Lucy was insistent that we were not "all done" ...

"We need Baby Jesus a birthday cake ... 
We have to get Baby Jesus a birthday cake, Granny."

O, out of the mouths of babes!  Out of the mouth of our 2 year old granddaughter!  Thank you, Lucy, for jolting us back to the True Meaning of why we celebrate Christmas.

Once we got back home, the insistence persisted.  Granny's stocked pantry without birthday cake ingredients or even a box of ready to make mix or frosting ... but, Lucy had a solution to our dilemma -- her Granddad.  Thank heaven for Granddad who was more than willing to go to the store at 2pm on Christmas Eve ... one item ... parking lot full ... Baby Jesus' birthday cake ... frantic shoppers in search of their their last minute cooking preparations ... Baby Jesus' birthday cake ... Baby Jesus' birthday cake ...

Lucy putting finishing touches on Baby Jesus' birthday cake
Christmas Eve night found this 2 year old 'too excited to sleep'!  So, Lucy chose the perfect cookies to leave for Santa and then ... 

Well, I'll let the pictures tell their own story ~~~

Choosing the perfect cookies for Santa, and then ...

You guessed it!

Santa's little cookie taster!

Now, where's the perfect spot for Santa to find his perfect cookies?

Christmas morning is exciting with a 2 year old ... 

Princess instruments!

Mommy made a yummy Christmas breakfast!

Oh, Cindy ... I love you!

Watch me go, Granddad!!!

We made our Christmas Day visit to the Great-One's for more family fun ... 
Of course Cindy wanted to go to G-G's with Lucy.

These presents just looked too inviting for Lucy to wait on everybody.

Just what I asked G-G for!!!

G-G and Grandpa know exactly what Lucy likes!
Unwinding with Granddad at the end of a very Merry Christmas Day.

There's something about the tenderness of little ones  

their honesty, their innocence, their heart ... 

My prayer is that I will continue to learn from my granddaughter each and every day.  
May my heart be tender, my actions be gentle, and my thoughts be gracious.  

Thank You Jesus for my granddaughter and her tender heart for You ...   


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Most Priceless Gift ...

Granddad and I went to a wonderful Christmas Open House tonight.  This is my 2nd year going while he has attended for several years (usually headed directly from work).  Business colleagues and other associates mingle throughout the few hours with light refreshments and lots of chatting.  It always amazes me to see Granddad “in action” and be able to meet people that he knows outside of our personal world.  I talked for awhile to Bob, while Granddad was discussing business with Andrew.  You know, we grandparents can pick each other out in an instant, and our eyes light up when we start talking about our “grands”.  And Bob is just as proud of his granddaughter (who is in college) as Granddad and I are of our little Lucy.

During this festive season, I (as well as many others) can get caught up in searching for that perfect gift to give to someone.  In the past, I know that I have traveled hundreds of miles back and forth across town just for a "perfect” gift".  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that.  Matter of fact, I believe in putting thought into the gifts I give to others.  And truth be told, just the other day I traveled across town to one specialty store just to come away with Lucy 3 plastic boats for bath-time.  (In my defense, we have searched every store from Target to Wal-Mart to Dollar Stores just to be told ‘it’s seasonal’). The look on her face was priceless when I gave her this early Christmas present.  As she knelt down to make sure those boats were real, she whispered “Thank you Nanny” still with astonishment.

But, those boats are not Lucy’s “perfect Christmas gift”.  I could get her as many boats as I could find, as many princess accessories (because every princess needs accessories), as many Disney movies, baby dolls, stuffed animals … an endless list of “stuff”.  But the perfect Christmas gift can’t be wrapped in the perfect paper topped with the perfect bow.  Nor can it be bought.  Because spending our time with Lucy is what she needs.  And that’s what Granddad and I need as well.

Bob talked tonight about how his granddaughter had lived with him and his wife for awhile, and now that she is in college, she spends every break with her grandparents.  This reminded me of how Lucy’s Mommy would spend school breaks with her grandparents – my parents.  She even lived with them for a semester during college and commuted daily to class.  Mrs. ‘Joe always loved going to Grandma & Grandpa’s house for Christmas break, Spring break, Thanksgiving, weeks during the summer … And even though we moved several hours away from my hometown, a lot of vacation time was spent going to visit family and developing relationships. 

I grew up in a different time and place.  My aunts and uncles and cousins (as well as my family) lived around my Granny.  My parents and I lived with Granny and my Aunt K until I started 2nd grade of elementary school.  Granny had her grandkids around her all the time – and we loved being around her!  Memories of sitting with her on the back porch and talking about her childhood memories, or her vegetable garden, her flower garden, or just about anything … We weren’t poor by any means because we had something that money just couldn’t buy. 

Bob talked about that "something" tonight.  The gift of spending time with a child is priceless.  The relationship that is built will carry on for many more years than we even imagine.  When I spend time with Lucy, I’m showing her that she is the most important aspect of my life. Our little world could stop spinning at that point in time.  And as she gets older, she will pass this on to her children and grandchildren, and they will pass it on … and the relationship cycle will never end.

Building relationships takes time ... time that you can’t get back or have a “re-do” … time that is very well spent on what really matters in life.  Granddad & I are so thankful for our time that we spend with the ‘Joes … and especially for our time with Princess Lucy.  Yes, there are still a few Christmas gifts that I would like to find to wrap and place under our tree.  But the most priceless gift of all won’t be found in pretty paper under our tree.  

This gift can be found through our relationship with our 2 year old princess … 

Christmas picture with Lucy, Granny & Granddad


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's December ... Already?????

To quote a famous philosopher "I cannot believe it!" ... December ... already???? (Okay, so the 'famous philosopher' is actually Quincy from Disney's Little Einstein's -- yes, Granny quotes Disney often)

I had every intention to write more, organize more and read more.  But, "the best-laid schemes go astray"  (Robert Burn's poem "To a Mouse")  Oh my, I'm on a roll here with quotes, so maybe I'd better just make this a short post.  (I'm so very glad you agree with me.)

I really don't know where this year has gone.  I've told several people that it seems that time goes by faster with having a grandchild in the house than it did when the future Mrs 'Joe was growing up.  (I guess that just means that Granddad & Granny are getting older ... and hopefully wiser.) 

So tonight I just want to post a few pictures of our time with Lucy over the past couple of months.  Gracious, it seems like just yesterday the 'Joes were bringing her home from the hospital.     

And now ...

Making Halloween cookies

Of course Granddad had to help with icing & sprinkles

"I'm so sorry, Granddad. This cookie is just for Lucy!"

Lucy loves rockin' with her gourds!

Even Lucy needs a break from Rockin' out so hard.
"Did you see me a-rockin', Granny?"

If you are a grandparent, then you know how valuable our time is with our grandchildren.
If you are a soon-to-be grandparent, you will soon realize just how valuable our time is with our grandchildren.

Gracious ... it really is December!