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Thankful

So, What Are We Going To Do Today?

Grandchildren bring joy into my life-a kind of joy I can’t really explain. I just know that when they are around, I feel energized and happy.

As empty-nesters, this Nana and Pop live in a home that is at times, deafeningly quiet. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the peace that the quietness generates, but when those grandkids come bounding through the door, their youthful spirits bring  a contagious enthusiasm for life. My tranquil world is temporarily interrupted, but, somehow, I don’t mind at all.

I have come to expect what the first words out of their mouths will be:

“Nana, what are we doing today?”

To which I answer:

“I haven’t really thought too much about it yet.”

These days, kid’s summers are filled with a lot of “going and doing”- usually in the form of some sort of “screens” or going somewhere “cool” to eat or attending camps (football, golf, soccer, robotics, music….)

My old enemy, doubt, begins to nag at me again.

“How do I compete with all of that stuff?”

Electronics are forbidden (with parent’s blessings) at the grandparent’s house, with the exception of an occasional quick game of Hangman (educational, of course) on Nana’s ipad.

Plagued by doubt again, I wonder:

“What in the world were we thinking when we banned devices?”

The 100 degree day isn’t exactly conducive to outdoor play. So, off to the library we go.

I feel the Spirit’s leading today as I immediately spot an old familiar movie from the hundreds of DVDs crammed onto the crowded shelves. “Sounder,” a 2003 release-an uplifting story of one boy’s faith, strength and dogged determination. San Diego Union Tribune hailed it as “Simple, Yet Enormously Grand.” Yes, this is the one!

The boys, having discovered the Star Wars books, are busy leafing through their pages. Across the aisle from where they squat, I spy the craft book section.

 “Hmm…how do I choose one that will retain the interest of both a ten and eleven-year-old who hold very different interests?”

I pick up a few books, but quickly return them to the shelf. Then a book entitled “Recycled Science”  catches my eye. I eagerly pick it up and read the front cover:

“Bring out your science genius with soda bottles, Pringles cans, and more unexpected stuff.”

As the boys scan the book, their eyes begin to dance as they discover a few fun projects that pique their interest. Looking at the list of supplies for three of the projects, I realize I have everything but tongue depressors and chip cans.

      “HEB, here we come!”

I never cease to be amazed. How could getting to have their own can of chips be so exciting? And for the special price of $1.25 per can! I’m sure these chips are full of good nutrition. Right! But hey, we are the grandparents, after all! We even find a bag of tongue depressors in the craft section for $2.50.

Back home, the boys are anxious to watch the movie. They are immediately drawn in, captivated by the story for one and a half hours.

Next on the agenda is to make a solar hot dog cooker  and ice cream maker using the now empty chips cans and a cork launcher requiring a clothes pin, tongue depressors, wine bottle corks, glue gun, and a rubber band. The projects, very simple, keep them busy for quite some time.

Following lunch, it’s reading time. If you have grandsons, you must have on hand a copy of “The Action Bible,” illustrated by Sergio Cariello. Its pages read like a graphic comic book. Most visits after they leave I find this book laying open in the middle of the floor, a good indicator that it has been read.

      “One day down, two more to go!”

The dreaded question pops up again as I tuck them in for the night.

      “Nana, what are we going to do tomorrow?”

Fumbling for words, I reply:

“Uh… oh… well…It’s a surprise!”

Oh boy! I guess I have the rest of the evening to figure out what the surprise will be!

The next morning I utter a little prayer of thanks for kids who are now of the age to actually want to sleep past eight o’clock.

A favorite breakfast of the grands at our house is ABC, 123 waffles (my mom found the coolest waffle iron at a garage sale that has letters on one side and numbers on the other.) This morning, a bit of a surprise math lesson, as Pop shouts:

“Look, I only have a 7 left. What kind of a number is that?”

This sparks a spirited mini-math question and answer session on prime numbers.

Before the worst heat of the day sets in, with football in tow, we drive to a nearby park. This is the ball of choice for today, since one of the boys has just begun playing on a football team.

We make a quick stop at the Sweets Shop for a treat to take along to the park. Feeling generous this morning, we allow each boy to have their own huge piece of ‘moist and succulent’ chocolate cake.

      “Drool… drool….!”

Only requirement will be a Pop & Nana tax, which they readily agree to.

At the park we choose an out-of-the-way table under a nice shaded gazebo. The boys quickly snap open the boxes and wolf down their special snack. Then they take the ball and disappear. I, writing journal in hand, sit dreamily, far away from the screaming kids, and breathe in the quiet. Then, I see two moms with their eight little “ducklings” following in a perfect row behind them walking my way. Surely, they are just taking a little hike around the park and my perfect little place is not their final destination. Wrong! They all squash onto two benches of the adjoining table.

      “Mommy, is this going to be a snack or lunch?

      ”How long will we be at this park?”

      “I need to go potty!”    

      “Do I have to share with Sofia again? I want my own drink!”

The incessant chatter shatters my train of thought.

The boys, drenched in sweat, return to the table with a new friend. He loves football! Of course, he does! As they awkwardly straddle the bench, their conversation goes something like this:

      “How about that JJ Watts?”

      “Which team is your favorite, the Texans or the Patriots?”

      “If I were to choose I’d say the Texans.”

      “Did you hear about Rob Gronkowski?”

      “Is he in?”

      “Yep, but the Browns still suck. They have a decent running back and a somewhat good defense.”

Then they’re off again to practice their game.

One of the moms and four of the little ducklings take off toward the slides. The wind gusts and blows my drink can off the table in the direction of the remaining mom. This sparks an interesting conversation about her life as a missionary wife in Venezuela. I sense she is a little down and try my best to share a few encouraging words with her.

The moms and their “melting down” little ducklings decide it is time to go.

Now I know why I brought my journal. I would have never remembered all those sports figure’s names and teams!

Once again, I sit alone in peace and despite the pandemonium of the last thirty minutes, a calm washes over my spirit.

Life is good!

Grandchildren are a joy and blessing!

And, nope, I have no idea what we’re going to do tomorrow!

The Blessing of Relationships

Love is why we are here pictureLearning to build lasting relationships originates with God. How would we even know how to truly love without knowing Christ?

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:13, 15 (NIV)

The more we cultivate relationships, the better they become. It takes work to create enduring bonds. Friendship, as defined in Scripture, encompasses the companionship and closeness we are to experience with others.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”                         Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

A professor of psychiatry at Stanford University recently lectured on the mind-body connection–relationship between stress and disease. He believes that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman. For a woman, however, her most significant nurturing tends to stem from relationships with girlfriends. Women connect with each other when dealing with stress and difficult life experiences. We share from our souls with our sisters, mothers, and friends. Physically and emotionally, this quality “girlfriend time” has been shown to result in positive health benefits, including combating depression.

We often become immersed in our careers, home projects and hobbies, and as a result of this preoccupation with “stuff,” little time or energy remains for building relationships.

Recognizing the importance of teaching our own adopted children Christian principles, we created a wall plaque that included as one of the values, “People are more important than things.” For years, this simple statement was a great reminder for our family of the significance of making people feel special.

“In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too.” Philippians 2:3, 4 (ERV)  

Relationship with Christ, family and others gives purpose to our lives. Existence void of these vital connections would be a dismal life, indeed.image

I am extremely thankful to a kind and merciful God for the blessing of relationships.

 

Happy Birthday, dear Forever Friend!  I thank God for bumping us in to each other all those years ago. It has truly been a Lasting Relationship!