Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Long distance love

It's Halloween and once again, I'm going to miss watching my grandsons trick-or-treat. Living 400 miles from them (and their parents) is at once a blessing and a problem. Certainly, it's much easier to visit them now than it was when we lived in Alaska. Yet driving eight hours for a visit and then driving another eight hours to return home takes a chunk out of a weekend! So pictures and phone calls will have to do in the meantime.

That's not such a bad thing, though, when you think about it. Just think what the homesteaders traveling west or the pilgrims crossing the ocean to America's shores would have given to have email, telephones, cell phones, digital cameras, video capabilities on their phones, cameras and computers--let alone the much more efficient postal service we have today! Millions of families are spread from one side of this country to the other, or even across the world, for that matter, and yet, thanks to today's technology we can stay in touch daily.

No, I wouldn't trade a real hug for a picture or a phone call. Never have, never will. But I will be grateful for the many blessings with which God has seen fit to bless us. He knew that families would start to move away from one another and in His great love, He provided for that by giving us the technology and the products to help us stay in touch.

So I'll be tickled the next time I hear "Hi Grandma" on the phone or open some pictures on my computer or read a letter from one of my loved ones, because I'll know they're not the only ones saying "I love you." If I listen carefully and pay close attention, I'll also hear the quiet voice of God saying, "I've always loved you."

Until the next time...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Time to leash up

Fall has definitely arrived! After several days of relentless rain, overcast skies, and cool days and nights, we're back on track with sunny, blue skies and slightly warmer temperatures. Don't get me wrong--the rain was welcome and so were the cool days and downright chilly nights. They made "being inside looking out" just that much more enjoyable--I always think it's cozy to look outdoors at the rainy (or snowy) weather and be glad I can be inside where it's warm and welcoming. But crisp days and clear skies make walking around the base just that much easier (and drier) and that's exactly what I should start doing.

Down here, I put on the extra pounds during the summer months, not the winter, as do most people. The reason for that turnaround is that during the summer it's too hot and humid down here for me to get outside and do any walking; it's all I can do to gasp and grunt to and from the car once or twice a day. But when the nicer weather comes along--and we're definitely there now--I can walk with ease and breathe in the cool, crisp October air. That's when I get in my much-needed exercise--when I can breathe easily and walk with the newfound confidence that I won't embarrass myself by fainting dead away!

So after I do my computer work, I'll be leashing up Maestro, our black lab, and taking a walk around the streets of our neighborhood. Maestro will appreciate the added exercise--and so will my hips!

Until the next time...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boo!

The suffocating heat and humidity just might be behind us for a while down here in Mississippi. We're looking at a high of 64 today--a cold snap in these parts--and not much higher for the next few days. It rained yesterday and it's been drizzling off and on out there today. It's a much-appreciated rainfall, however, as the streams, lakes, rivers and ponds are very low and the vegetation in dire need of moisture, so I'm sure there'll be no complaining. Besides, it's great fall and Halloween weather, all the more reason to stay warm and cozy.

Speaking of Halloween, we were "boo'ed" last night! The doorbell rang, but when Ron went to the door, no one was there. Instead, a Halloween-stickered gift bag was sitting on the porch and when we examined its contents, we learned we'd been "tagged" by a mystery friend. The enclosed poem told us that we were to spread the fun by "booing" two more families, anonymously and under the cover of darkness. Another piece of paper with "We've been boo'ed!" printed on it was to be attached to our front door, so would-be booers wouldn't inadvertently boo us a second time. The bag contained candy and Halloween-themed items--a kitchen towel, one of those long-handled candle lighters (and candles), stickers, and decorations. Since we had only 24 hours in which to spread the "boo," Ron and I jumped into the van and drove into town to buy our surprises while Darice continued to study for her exam today. (She pouted, but decided she couldn't take the time away from her studying to do the shopping. She'd help with the actual booing.)

An hour later, Darice, Ron and I were all in the van, driving around in the dark. After making sure our intended booees hadn't already been tagged, they sneaked up to their front porches, rang the doorbell, dropped the bag, and ran like crazy to the van which was parked a block over. Ron and Darice did the "sneaking, ringing, dropping and running like crazy" part (in the rain, no less), while I kept watch in the van. It was exhilarating and great fun for all of us; the difference was that they were soaking wet when we returned home and I was dry as a bone!

If all goes as intended, our two victims will each boo two more families and on and on and on, until theoretically, at least, the entire base will have been booed by Halloween! What a wonderful (and non-threatening) way to celebrate a time of year that's morphed in recent years into a season that's far from child-friendly. We can all have innocent fun without calling up demons or spreading the worship of anyone other than our Heavenly Father.

Thank You, Father, for neighbors and friends who think enough of us to sneak up in the dark, drop a bag of goodies, and include us in an innocent game of "Boo! You're it!" during this time of year. Please help us to celebrate Halloween with appropriate fun and festivities. In Your Precious Son's name, I pray. Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dance of the trees

We had some scary weather yesterday, particularly deep into the night. After an afternoon and evening spent watching the skies for signs of severe thunderstorms and tornadic activity, we went to bed wondering if anything would materialize while we were away from the Weather Channel. I slept fitfully and with my windows open just a crack so I could hear the wind if it started up. And later that night, it did.

I stood in my bedroom in the dark and watched the trees bow and sway like multi-armed dancers in a ballet of gigantic proportions. No sheets of rain barred my view from the window, no lightning filled the sky, no thunder bellowed overhead. It was just me, the wind, and the dancing trees. I didn't know whether to be enthralled or terrified.

I tore myself away from the performance and went downstairs to turn on the television. No warnings, no watches; only storms to the east of us that marched in a northeasterly direction. They seemed to be dwindling in strength and I hope they were; I pray I wasn't watching the progress of destructive winds and flooding waters that would envelop other innocents as they slept.

Please, Lord, watch over Your children night and day as they weather the mighty forces of nature that could destroy them or their property. Be with those who have lost loved ones and homes in storms that we are helpless to stop or turn. Thank You, God, for your loving protection in times of peril. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The speed of love

It's been a week since I've written anything here and in that time, I've hugged, cuddled, kissed, scolded, chased and bathed my two wiggly grandsons countless times. We also giggled, horsed around, cooked, cleaned, wrestled, ran, played games, baked cookies, drew pictures, colored masterpieces, rode bikes, splashed in the pool and made up stories. Needless to say, I'm sore and exhausted. And then, very early this morning, as Dustin and Hunter (along with their parents and little brother Cannon) left our house to return to their home in Kentucky, we hugged one another and cried.

We packed a lot of different activities into those two weeks--some of them fun, some of them drudgery (lots of laundry, for instance), and some of them nothing more than the ordinary events of day-to-day living. Mostly, though, we spent our time making memories.

Now that they're all home safely, I can look back on our visit with clearer (although puffy and red-rimmed) eyes, rather than through my emotional "grandma vision." I realized this afternoon, after drying my eyes and blowing my nose for the tenth time in as many minutes, that there's nothing to be sad about. The past two weeks comprised just one visit in a long string of happy times to come. I've tried hard to be a hands-on grandma since Dustin arrived six years ago and I think I've done a good job so far. Even though I feel a terrible emptiness whenever we say goodbye, I know it's only for a short time and that we'll be together again soon. Although Dustin, Hunter and Cannon have lived in Kentucky since birth, I've lived either in Michigan, Alaska or Mississippi during that time. It's always been a long haul to get to them (or vice-versa) and as a result, our visits are fewer than I would like. But we do the best we can with the circumstances under which we live and I think we're doing a pretty darned good job of maintaining a loving, close and vibrant relationship despite the distances we must travel to do so.

Now I have a fourth grandson and he lives back in Michigan. Once more, I'll find ways to be as close to him as I can possibly be. I'll visit and he'll visit and one way or another, there will always be a way to love one another, even if it's from many miles away.

Michigan, Mississippi or Kentucky--what difference does it make when hearts travel at the speed of love?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Two kids and a kitten

It's been a busy week. With two little boys (and a new kitten) residing with us at the moment, the pace has picked up considerably from what this 3-adult family is accustomed to! But it's a wonderful busyness and a precious time for all of us.

Dustin and Hunter will be going home to Mom and Dad and baby brother Cannon next weekend, but Maple the kitten will be staying here with us. By the time the boys return to Mississipi to visit Grandma (me), Aunt Darice and Uncle Ron around Christmas time, she'll still be a kitten, but a longer, heavier and more cat-like kitten. Right now, she's a tornado with fur--a kitten phase I remember well when all our other cats were in the "I'm brand new to this exciting world and I can't wait to discover every little thing about it" stage. They're fun to watch, but coupled with the boys' rambunctious ways, we've been (oddly enough) completely exhausted when we go to bed each night.

We've divided our time between indoor and outdoor pursuits--playing with toys, games, cats (2 adults, plus the little one), a dog and a bunny indoors, and playing in the pool, on the playground and riding bikes outdoors. Why those two have not fallen in a heap and taken a nap right on the pavement is beyond me--it's certainly something I've considered doing! But God has graciously given me healthy, happy grandsons (and a kitten with equal energies) and I wouldn't trade a moment of the time we're able to spend with them for a good night's sleep or a quiet day. I can sleep any old time, but trading hugs and listening to "Grandmaw, Grandmaw" (they've got a wonderful southern drawl) a thousand times a day is something I won't be able to do once they're gone.

That is... until the next time!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Back home in Mississippi

I'm back in Mississippi now. I left my newest grandchild behind in Michigan in the capable hands of his parents and upon my return, rejoined my daughter and son-in-law here on Columbus Air Force Base. Less than 24 hours later, Darice and I were on our way to Owensboro, Kentucky (400 miles to our north) to visit my middle child and her family. We squeezed in all the love and laughter we could for the next twelve hours and then returned with Dustin, 6, and Hunter, 4, for a two-week visit. Baby Cannon, now a little over 7 months old, is too young to spend any length of time away from mom and dad, but his big brothers will be with us for a total of two weeks while their school is on fall break. We're enjoying every single minute with them.

It was a bittersweet departure from Michigan, as I had a wonderful time with both my son's family and my sister and her husband. The memories will last a lifetime and I'm grateful for all their gracious hospitality while I was visiting. I'm looking forward to the next visit and I've barely unpacked my bags! Somehow, during the past thirty days, I've managed to visit my sister and her husband and four of their children, my brother and his wife, all three of my grown children, their spouses and all my grandchildren! That's not bad, considering we're scattered from Michigan to Mississippi via Kentucky.

Mississipppi is still hotter than the dickens and believe me, I'm more than ready for a change in the weather. When I left Michigan, the temps had cooled delightfully and the colors were already appearing in the woods and alongside the road. Here, fall takes its time coming, stays only a short while and disappears into a rather dull, albeit mild, winter. I must admit that I enjoy the warmer winters and early springtime weather here in Mississippi, but long for the colorful fall weather and the crisp, cold winters of Michigan. I never thought I'd hear myself say this but I even miss the snow! Perhaps Mississippi will break its no-snow streak and give us a few inches this year--preferably around Christmas time!

Until the next time...

Laughing with the Lord #4

Welcome to #4 of Laughing with the Lord! Wondering what makes God smile has long been a burning question for me. I know He smiles and laug...