Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sweet Maple

Life just keeps getting better and better! In addition to the birth of my latest grandson Tyler this past Sunday, I also have a new kitten to call my very own. Maple (a gift from my daughter and son-in-law with whom I live) joined our family just a couple of days prior to Tyler's arrival and has adjusted very well to the tempo of her new home.

Maple, who is a beautiful 3-month-old calico, is a graduate of the local humane society and spent a couple of days at the vet's office getting checked out before we introduced her into our household. We have other pets and as committed owners, we feel it's in everybody's best interests to keep our pets healthy. She received a clean bill of health and is now home, making her presence known as the new kid on the block. The other pets, while a little leery of the unrelenting energy and spirit of this newest arrival, are nevertheless accepting her with good grace. Maple will have a very happy and, hopefully, long life with us.

The very special events of the past few days remind me that God's presence can be seen in all things--from the tiniest of kittens to the miracle of a child's birth; from the sparkle and spunk in a little cat's eyes to the wonder and glory of seeing your child for the first time. He is the Creator of all that we see, hear, feel, taste, smell, love, hope for, marvel over, and dream of. He is our beginning and our end. He is all that we as individuals need to survive and humanity's only hope of becoming anything worthwhile. He is the Father of all creation--from shining seas to sapphire skies, from valley floors to snowcapped peaks, from desert blooms to grassy plains, from the middle of the earth to the far reaches of Heaven.

And of course, last--but certainly not least--from kittens to kids.

Until the next time...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Welcome, Tyler!

Hallejulah! My fourth grandson (and the first child of my son and his wife) arrived today at 7:45 a.m.! He weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 22 inches long, has a lot of brown hair, and according to Derek (his proud father), looks like his mother, Renee. Tyler Henry and his mom are both doing well, although there were some tense moments as his heartrate lowered alarmingly and then rose quickly as both he and his mom developed a fever. But all seems to be well now--of course the hospital personnel are keeping a close eye on him--and although Renee is tired and in some residual pain, she, too, is on the way to recovery.

There's no real way to describe my joy, so I won't try. Anyone who's had a child or grandchild understands how I'm feeling and those of you who are still waiting for that joyous moment have something magnificent to look forward to. I am in awe of the great love our Father has for His children and the countless and wonderful ways in which He expresses that love. A new grandchild--in fact, any new child--is a blessing beyond compare and one of His most precious gifts.

I can't wait to meet Tyler. I'll be leaving for Michigan this coming Friday, so I'll be holding my fourth grandson and congratulating his proud, but exhausted parents in person very soon. Thank You, Lord, for Your many blessings, for Tyler's safe delivery, and for the continued recovery of both baby and mom.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Providence

It's 94 degrees out there today, according to my online weather site. But with the air so thick I could snip it into little pieces with a pair of scissors, I beg to differ. (Must have been a typo--someone forgot to put the "1" in front of the "94". There, that's more like it!) The air's so heavy that the fumes from the jet fuel don't seem to have anywhere to go, so they're hanging around my back door--well, probably everyone else's, as well--burning my eyes and stinging my nose. I'm afraid to light the stove for fear of setting off a base-wide explosion!

As much as I complain about the heat and humidity here in Mississippi (and believe me, I complain a LOT), there are billions of people in the world with far more serious concerns with which they must deal day in and day out. Deadly concerns. Matters of life and death; dreadful occurrences like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, cave-ins, disease, accidents and the ever-present wars around the world--civil, national, religious, cultural and racial. If all those people had to worry about was some uncomfortable heat, oppressive humidity, and unpleasant odors, they'd be out of their minds with relief and joy.

I have no idea why the Lord allowed me and mine to live in this free country, to enjoy a life of comparative ease. Yes, we've seen our share of heartache; disease has taken its toll and death has visited far more often than we want. We've gone through family strife, job loss, divorce, financial problems, health problems, miscarriages, and many other types of upheaval. But even at their worst, our lives are still better than the majority of human beings on this earth. I thank God every day for His Providence.

I hope I never become so accustomed to my wonderful life that I forget those who are suffering every minute of every day, that I remain acutely aware of my daily blessings, and those of my family members, and that I never forget those in need. My relative prosperity and easy life are not rewards that God has given me, but rather a responsibility to pass along the wealth and my knowledge of His Word and His Plan for my life and for the lives of every other human being on this planet.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm on baby watch!

It's another glorious late summer day in Mississippi, but it's supposed to reach 100 degrees and it's only 8:30 a.m., so it's anybody's guess as to how long I'll maintain this cheery outlook. We'll see. Hopefully, I'll be able to see past the heat and humidity and appreciate the wonderful things that happen today simply because God wills them into existence.

My fourth grandson is getting ready to make his debut! My daughter-in-law's doctor noticed early signs of labor at yesterday's appointment and has, tentatively, set one week from today as the target date to induce labor if the baby doesn't come on his own before that. He's going to be a big one--ultrasound tests measured him at 7 lbs, 14 oz. a week ago and he still has a few days for a growth spurt.

I won't make it in time to be there for the birth, but I'll be arriving shortly thereafter and I can hardly wait to meet the newest member of our family. It will be wonderful enough just to be able to spend time with Derek and Renee, but to also have a new baby to hold and cuddle and love--well, that's pure joy! Add to that the excitement of spending a month in the company of my fabulously-talented artist sister and her handsome husband and you've got a recipe for blessing after blessing after blessing!

Until the next time...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bugged

I spent today catching up on things I've been unable to do for the last few days. A vicious stomach bug sent me to the doctor late last week and I've yet to conquer the little creature completely, but I'm getting closer! I imagine I'll be feeling fine in a matter of days.

In the meantime, I've had plenty of time to write lists (one of my specialties), prioritize my objectives and consider which things in my life are most important to me. Some things--God, my children, their spouses and children and my other family members--are no-brainers. That will never change. My love for Him and for them never waivers, only grows stronger with each passing day.

There are other things, however, that flit in and out of my life with the regularity of the sun's rising and setting each day. One day I'm completely committed, gung-ho and wildly exuberant about a project (generally a writing project); the next I'm discouraged, disgruntled and just plain disinterested. Part of this is normal behavior during the creative process, I'm sure. Some of it can be explained by the horrible heat and humidity, as well as my unexpected stomach blues, both of which have forced me to stay inside the house for days on end.

But some of it is just plain laziness on my part. When a project reaches the part I call my "trudge through times," my interest wanes and I look for something new and exciting to occupy my mind. I want the fun of coming up with ideas, developing characters and dreaming up plot lines, but I balk at the hard work of actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and getting the job done. It doesn't help matters any that I'm a perfectionist and will edit 'til the cows come home. At the very least, that tendency to go over and over my work slows me down and sometimes even stalls my creative engine entirely. Not good.

It's surprising how often my daily Bible reading addresses a problem I'm having at the time, and this situation is no different. I see His Word on the topic of perseverance wherever I turn. But that's the way God works and I don't know why I am continually amazed when I see my situation spelled out in front me as I read His Word or click on an email or newsletter to which I subscribe. He wants me to know these things; He wants to communicate His love to me. He wants me to know which way to go, when to persevere, when to turn in a new direction. Although it's amazing to me that He takes the time to place His Word in my path at just the right time, He nevertheless does.

I don't have to understand this happy circumstance to appreciate it, though. I just need to pay attention.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The countdown begins

Two weeks from this Friday, I'll be flying to Michigan for the birth of my fourth grandson and an extended visit with my sister and her husband. I've already begun writing lists of things to do before I leave (finish a couple of assignments, doublecheck my prescriptions), clothes to pack (September in Michigan will, thankfully, be cooler than September in Mississippi), and which toiletries I absolutely MUST bring with me and those that can be bought once I arrive. By the time my plane leaves on Friday, August 31st, I should be in good shape. It might take until three seconds before take-off, but I'll accomplish everything I need to do to make this a successful trip.

Too bad I can't say the same about my final trip. Although I putter around making plans, deciding again and again and again that I need to give more to the church, send donations to worthy charities and start being the Christian I profess (and really want) to be, far too often I fall short of my good intentions. Because I have no itinerary for this final trip--no schedule to let me know how much longer I have until I leave, no estimated time of arrival or flight numbers to commit to memory--I must make plans as if I'm going to leave moments from now. And who knows? I just might.

There is a travel guide available to me, however. It might not tell me just when I'm leaving on this trip, but it DOES tell me what I can do to make sure I'm properly prepared for my final destination. It's my Bible and even though I read it every night, if I don't pay attention to what I'm reading, I'm as clueless as I would be if I forgot to print off my flight itinerary and found myself wandering around the airport asking uniformed attendants, "Which way to Lansing, Michigan?" Because I never know when I'm going to take off on this final journey, it behooves me to start paying closer attention to my guidebook. If I have questions, I can always ask God, or His Son, or the Holy Spirit. They're always ready and willing to listen to a lost traveler, to give precise, heartfelt directions. Unlike the airlines, They're foolproof, They never lie, and They'll be there to meet me at the gate.

And maybe best of all, there'll be no need to make those pesky return trip reservations. My final journey will be one-way.

Until the next time...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Missing a great lady

My mother would have been 81 years old tomorrow. She died five years ago this month--on August 11th, just one day after her 76th birthday. At the time, she and my dad lived in Florida and all of us children still lived in Michigan. One by one, we called her on the 10th to wish her a happy birthday, none of us realizing it would be the last time we would ever speak to her. The following morning, she became ill; she died later that evening in the hospital where she'd been taken by ambulance earlier in the day.

As was my custom when we talked on the phone, I closed the conversation that last time by saying, "I love you." She always responded in kind, but this time, I remember being a little surprised by her response. She said, "No, I love YOU." They were the last words she ever spoke to me.

Would I have remembered that inflection in her voice, that emphasis on "you" if she had not died the next day? I like to think so. After all, I took mental note of it at the time it happened. But had she not died, there would have been other conversations, other words and thoughts and laughter to dilute the impact of what turned out to be the last thing she said to me. They may have been lost forever, drowned in a sea of conversation that, although still precious to me, may have stolen the specialness of that moment from me forever.

I like to think that God, Who knew this was the last time I would ever speak to my mother, put those words in her mouth and opened my ears and mind to make special note of them. So frequently in this frantic society in which we live, our busyness prevents us from remembering the important things. I thank God that He guides us in watching for those special times, listening for those precious words, and noting those special acts of love that could otherwise be swept away by life's swift current.

I love you, Mother. And I miss you terribly.

Until the next time...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Middle of the night blues

It's 4:15 a.m. on Monday morning. For some reason, I awoke about 90 minutes ago and have been unable to get back to sleep. It wouldn't matter so much except I have an 8:15 a.m. doctor's appointment and must get up by 6:30 in order to get there on time. I went to bed knowing I had to get up early and I think I got myself all frazzled just worrying about missing the alarm clock. When I was working, I arose early every weekday morning and I never had any problems. I'll no doubt fall asleep thirty minutes before the alarm goes off.

It's lonely in the middle of the night. Even though I know that my daughter and her husband are across the hall sleeping in their bedroom, I feel all alone. It's a strange, sad feeling to be awake when others, even those who are close by, are fast asleep. It takes me back to being a young child--around 7th grade, I believe--when I had panic attacks. They happened on Sunday nights, in particular, probably brought on by a dread of Monday mornings, a malady from which many people suffer. If I wasn't asleep by 9:00 p.m. and I heard the theme song from Bonanza drift in to my bedroom from the living room, it would literally take my breath away. If I was still awake by 10:00 p.m. when I heard the refrains of the next television show (I can't remember just what it was at the moment), or Heaven forbid, hear my parents switch the television off and get ready for bed themselves--well, by then I was in a full-blown attack and there was NO way I was going to get to sleep that night. Inevitably, I awoke the next morning, signaling to me that I had indeed finally slept.

But that was no comfort to a young girl lying in the dark feeling all alone and scared of something that had no face, no form. In fact, there was nothing in particular that I was afraid of. It was just not being asleep like the rest of the world was, of being wide-awake in a fast-asleep world. Scary stuff for an 11-year-old.

Not much better at this age.

Until the next time...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Good news travels fast!

My oldest grandson, now six years old, went back to school last week. "My teacher's a first grade teacher," he said to me that evening. His days of being a lowly kindergartner are behind him now. His younger brother will be starting his second year of pre-school this week, and their baby brother, a little over five months old, is mastering the skills of sitting up, drooling, and stuffing things--anything--into his mouth. Their uncle and aunt (my son and his wife) are expecting their first, another boy, at the beginning of September. If and when a baby girl is ever born into this wild bunch of little critters, I hope she's a strong one!

It seems like just yesterday that I dashed from mid-Michigan to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on the day of Dustin's birth. I found out at an Indiana rest stop that I could slow down my pace; I wasn't going to make it in time for his birth. In the middle of my frantic "Are you okay? How are the pains?" at the payphone just outside the restrooms, I heard my daughter's quiet, tired voice say to me, "He's here, Mom. He's born. He's beautiful." I walked on air back to my car. I was a grandmother! The goofy grin on my face and the wild whooping and hollering I did after I heard her words kept the other reststoppers at their distance, but I didn't care. I was finally a grandma. I had a grandchild. My daughter had a son. Life was good. God was great. No, God was stupendous!

I'll be on my way north soon--hopefully, in time for my fourth grandson's arrival. I'll be flying this time, so there won't be a repeat of my interstate indoctrination to grandparenthood. Still, I have a cellphone now, so if you happen to be in an airport on the way to Michigan in about a month, listen for a wild cry of happiness. It might just be me.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Seeing the light

When I went out to check the mail a few minutes ago, the light from the sun reflecting off the concrete driveway nearly blinded me. How on earth can the pilots stand it? I wondered, as I listened to the roar of aircraft overhead. Well, for one thing, Deb, they're not standing down here in front of a mass of white cement, dumb enough to come out into a hot (and I mean HOT) Mississippi afternoon without sunglasses. No doubt they are prepared for all eventualities. They train for their jobs and they learn from their mistakes.

Apparently I don't. I've lived here long enough to know that you don't walk barefoot on cement during the day down here, nor do you venture outdoors on a sunny day without sunglasses. Yet I did both. By the time I trotted to the end of the driveway to the mailbox, the soles of my feet were scalded and I was navigating by memory alone. I trekked back to the front door through the crunchy grass--which was cooler, but no more comfortable than the driveway that paralled it--hoping the spider I'd spied (and said nasty things about in my one of my posts) hadn't decided to follow me home and lurk about waiting for The Dummy to come outside.

On my dash to the door, I noticed the herbs my daughter and I planted this spring. Even though they're planted in pots and displayed on our potting bench in the shade, most of them are shrivelled and hurting. Looking back on it, it probably would have been kinder if we'd put our tiny, fresh, and fragrant plants--straight from the loving arms of the local Lowe's gardening section--directly into the oven to broil for... oh, say eight or ten hours, rather than submit them to the burning rays of the mid-summer Mississippi sun. What flourishes in someone else's garden in some other state will not necessarily do as well in conditions similar to the inside of an industrial-grade furnace. I hope, for their sake, that I have learned my lesson.

No one--plant, animal or human--likes to live in conditions that don't allow them to flourish. The difference between plants and animals and us humans is that we get to choose, for the most part, the environment in which we exist. If we aren't comfortable, we do something about it. They, on the other hand, are dependent upon us to do whatever is best for them.

I'll try to do better next year.

Until the next time...