Wednesday’s Word — Edition 138

September 12, 2018 | My Jottings

“Properly understood, Christianity is by no means the opiate of the people.

It’s more like the smelling salts.”

~~Pastor Tim Keller

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Moanworthy

August 28, 2018 | My Jottings

Have any of you eaten a Buddha Bowl? Some call them Big Bowls, or Grain Bowls….I don’t know what to call them myself, but I could eat one every day for the rest of my life and be happy.

I made Grain Bowls for company recently, and here’s a picture of what they looked like:

There are just layers of textures and flavors! Many recipes have a fried egg on top of all the rest of the ingredients, so maybe I’ll try that next time.

I started with cooked brown rice, spooned into the bottom of the bowl. You can see marinated chicken breast to the left, then above that some curry-toasted chickpeas I made. The dark green is sauteed kale with a bit of garlic, sliced tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms with sherry and garlic, roasted sweet potato strips, and the creamy dollop on the sweet potato is a tahini dressing I made.

It was so colorful and delicious I had to restrain myself from moaning at the table. The people I invited over wouldn’t have understood that. I have a couple of friends who would be fine with me rolling my eyes and moaning at a bite of something delicious, but I wasn’t so sure about these folks, so I forced myself to stay light and relaxed  and hostessy and conversational.

I would encourage you to look for Buddha Bowl or Grain Bowl recipes online — there are hundreds of them. There are even whole cookbooks devoted to them. I want to have about five or six favorites to keep rotating week after week.

I’m off to run some errands now that it’s 60-something degrees out instead of the hot and steamy weather we’ve had for literally months now.

Let me know if you’ve ever eaten or made a Buddha Bowl!

Levi Samuel

August 10, 2018 | My Jottings

We are all pretty tickled around here, because on Wednesday my middle daughter Carolyn gave birth to her seventh child. (Little Hannah was born and died last summer… we wait for the time when we’ll be able to see her again someday.)

Levi Samuel came into this world healthy, pink, and demonstrating how well his lungs were working. He weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and is a long 23 inches. He has a bit of light colored hair, the blondest eyebrows, big feet, and as most grandmas like to say, a perfectly shaped head.

My oldest daughter Sharon took some pictures of their family yesterday, holding Levi and beaming their love at him.

Clara is 16 1/2 and told her mom how proud she was of her, and is attached to Levi already….

Elijah is 15 and is showing what a good dad he’ll be with the way he tenderly loves his littlest sister Miriam…

Vivienne is 12 1/2, and will be the big sister who piques Levi’s interest in the way things work in the universe…

Audrey is 10 1/2, and will shower him with hugs and kisses, and teach him how to have fun…

Miriam is almost 4, and believes that Jeremy and Carolyn had this baby for her and she keeps calling him “my baby”…

Daddy Jeremy is one of the best fathers I’ve ever known…

And my Carolyn is an amazing, strong, quietly tenacious, gifted, loving, brilliant, funny, and beautiful mother…

Truly, truly, God has been kind to us.

What do you think?

July 27, 2018 | My Jottings

I just purchased an electric fireplace for my bedroom. I got it on sale, plus with another discount and a rebate. I’m trying to decide how to arrange my bedroom chairs around it. Would you like to help me?

Below is a picture of part of my bedroom, which is pretty good-sized. The windows behind the bed face Lake Superior, so I am blessed to be able to look out and see that breathtaking, vast body of water every single day. You can click these photos to enlarge them if you like.

I put the fireplace on a blank wall. It has a fairly real looking flame with glowing embers and logs, and it will keep this room warm. It can also be used for just the flame with no heat. I love sitting in my bedroom chair (the biggest one with the darkest plaid fabric) to read, do my Bible study, write in my gratitude journal, and to have tea with friends.

Option #1: Below you can see the two chairs arranged in an L shape, close to the fireplace.

Another view of option #1: I like this arrangement because I can enjoy the fireplace, have some natural light behind me for reading, and can still look to my left and see Lake Superior through the windows.

Option #2: The chairs are facing each other near the fireplace, sharing the ottoman. I have some friends named John and Barb who have their chairs placed this way, and they have their coffee and morning devotions together like this. They like the face-to-face interaction this arrangement gives them, and I like that idea a lot too.

Option #2: Another view of the chairs facing each other.

Option #3: I arranged the chairs at an angle, both facing the fireplace. I had to put the little lamp that was on the round table somewhere else, since with this setting there’s no close outlet for the lamp. I also haven’t styled the mantel yet — I will be thinking about how to dress the space in the future. I need something large on the wall behind the fireplace too. And if I choose this arrangement I need to center it on the wall.

Option #3: Another view of the chairs angled toward the fireplace. I think this is homey feeling, but miss having my chair situated so I can see Lake Superior at the same time.

As you can see, there are advantages to all three chair placements.

Would you mind casting your vote in the comments? Let me know if you like #1, #2 or #3 better. Or maybe you have an even different idea — I’d love to know what you think.

Have a wonderful weekend!

In the blink of an eye

June 30, 2018 | My Jottings

Yesterday I drove about 45 minutes south to pick up three grandchildren from their church summer camp. They’ve been going for years and look forward to it so much. It was fun to listen to the three of them (and a friend who went with them) chatter in the back seat about their adventures there. It got me thinking once again about how quickly all my grands have grown.

Clara (below) was my first grandchild, and she is almost six feet tall now, and is sixteen years old. I know this sounds like a trite thing for a grandmother to say, but I almost can’t handle this. I want to slow down time and stretch out the moments, but of course that never happens. Clara has had artistic talent since she was a toddler, and wants to someday be an animator. Her head is always tilted toward her portfolio and the thousands of truly astounding drawings she has done over the past years. She is a deep thinker, loves to watch favorite movies over and over, and gets along surprisingly well with her slightly younger brother. Clara and I have had many fun times together — WWG days, memorizing Bible verses together, and reading books out loud. When she was barely out of kindergarten she recorded the message on my voicemail, and to this day it brings a tear to hear that tiny voice say, “You’ve reached Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Please leave a message.” I will never, ever change it. Clara warms my heart.

Elijah (below) is sixteen months younger than Clara, and when they were little, people used to think they were twins. He has grown at least five inches in the last five months, and is pushing six feet himself, if he hasn’t already reached that mark last night while he slept. He turned fifteen years old yesterday. His smile lights up his whole face. Elijah excels in math and science, and has plans for big finance someday. He can draw too. He is a delight to talk to because he’s such a good conversationalist. How many fifteen year olds can we say that about? He’s a bit of a joker and I’ve heard he can be the class clown. Elijah also adores his youngest sister Miriam. They have a very special relationship, and he’s patient and tender with her. When I picked him up from church camp yesterday, one of the first things he said from the back seat was, “I missed Miri!” She apparently wanted to sit with him a long time after he got home, and her head was planted with many brotherly kisses. Elijah makes me smile.

Vivienne (below) will be thirteen in a few months and like her siblings, she is tall and lanky and all legs. She has been an observer since she was less than a year old. I remember watching her study the tip of a pencil eraser for a long period of time, pore over the science books I keep on the grandchildren’s bookshelves, and draw detailed dragons with hundreds of scales. When she was about seven, I picked her up from school one afternoon to give her a ride home. She has always been reserved and deep in her own thoughts, but from the silence in the back seat she piped up in her very feminine voice and asked, “Grandma, have you ever considered whether or not infinity has mass?” Uh, no. I took a stab and said I didn’t think it did, and she cheerfully agreed that it probably didn’t. She has always been more interested in facts than fancy. While other little girls chatter about nail polish and boys, Vivie ponders things like black holes in the universe, and the intriguing fact that snails can breathe through their skin. I look forward to seeing what kinds of things she accomplishes with that mind of hers. Vivie delights me.

Audrey (below) is 10 1/2 and has burned brightly since she was an infant. Her energy, laugh, vibrant expressions, friendliness and enthusiasm have heartened me countless times. She can draw too. Audrey is an includer — she loves her friends and wants to get to know everyone and draw them in. She is muscular and athletic and has been able to do impressive things the rest of us would be crippled by. She’s affectionate and open-hearted. She laughs easily and feels things deeply, and I believe her passionate temperament will be a magnetic force for God’s kingdom someday. She is others-focused and hangs her head out of the car when I pick her up from school, waving and calling out the names of school friends, boys and girls alike. As a toddler she called Michael and me “Bocka and Backa,” and it was a day of mourning when she grew out of that and started calling us Grandpa and Grandma. 🙂 Audrey is curious and loves animals, and created an adventure in her home years ago when she found a baby Canada goose near a pond in their neighborhood and decided he would make a good family pet. (He was successfully returned to his frantically honking parents.) Audrey brings me such happiness.

Miriam is 3 1/2 and is one of the most cheerful children I’ve ever known. She is content and talkative, loves her older siblings (Cwawa, Hijah, Veevie and Audwie), and is generally adored by all people on the earth. She associates two main things with me: scrambled eggs and fingernail clippers, asking for the former as soon as she sets foot in my house, and signalling it’s time for the latter by finding them in my bedroom drawer and planting herself in my lap and sticking out her hand. “Cwick, cwick!” she says as I cut her nails. She talks well and a lot for a child her age. Miri (pronounced MEER-y) loves her brother Elijah so much she runs to him when he comes home from school and reaches up for him to pick her up. She also had a very special relationship with her beloved great-grandmother Mary Lou, who recently went to heaven. Miri has so much love in her heart for such a little girl. You can actually feel that love when you’re with her, and it’s one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever known.

I was forty-four when I became a grandma for the first time. I’ll be sixty-one soon, and all these beautiful children have flown into my life and grown up around me in the blink of an eye. I can’t thank their parents (Jeremy and Carolyn) enough. I can’t thank God enough for His goodness to me through them. But I will make it my life’s goal to say thank you, thank you, thank you, for them, until the day I die.

How in the world did this happen?

May 16, 2018 | My Jottings

Sometimes I look at my grandchildren and wonder, how in the world did this happen? How did you all get to be so old, so tall, so beautiful, so handsome, so funny, so talented, so unique, so heartbreakingly priceless? My 10th living grandchild will be born later this summer, and one little granddaughter has gone on ahead of us to heaven.

Since Sharon and Chris take their kids on regular trips, she recently took photos for their passports.

This is Mr. McBoy. Almost 16. He’s 6′ 5″ tall. Plays sports. Loves to watch sports. Has his driver’s permit. His first girlfriend. (Gah.) And he called me on Sunday to tell me he loved me and to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. When I see him it seems like he was just yesterday tiptoeing past a dark room in our old house (in his diapers) and whispering to me that there was an ocelot in that room. I feel deeply bonded to him forever.

This is Mrs. Nisky. She’s almost 14. Has the most beautiful copper hair and such enviable freckles. She plays the cello. Keeps a bullet journal for her day planner. Is a talented artist. Will be in high school next year. (Gah.) It seems like just yesterday that she and I were sitting at the dining room table making Christmas garland together, a fire burning in the hearth, and reading chapters from Treasures in the Snow. She touches a place deep in my heart that no one else can.

This is Li’l Gleegirl. She just turned 11. She’s got her daddy’s hair color, and hasn’t hit her growth spurt yet. She plays the violin and piano, takes dance lessons, and just won a lead part in a local production of Peter Pan. She likes to do the Macarena every morning before school. (Gah.) Loves time with her friends. It seems like just yesterday that I was teaching her how to build a ball from some Magformers, and taking her to feed the ducks at the cemetery. I could squeeze this lovely girl so tight — she brings joy to my life.

This is Weezer. She is almost 6. Has her mama’s hair color and is basically her twin. She loves bugs. Likes to handle them and isn’t creeped out by them. She can climb a rope to the top of a gymnasium without much effort. She calls me Old Pickleson. (Gah.) Just learned to ride her bike without training wheels. Doesn’t like when her brother calls her Louis or when classmates mistakenly call her Lisa. It seems like only yesterday when I took her older siblings down to the hospital to meet her for the first time, and we all fell in love. She makes my heart wrench with an ache and a thrill.

How in the world did this happen?

Podcasts, anyone?

April 4, 2018 | My Jottings

I’ve been wondering for a long time why podcasts are all the rage. I know so many people who love podcasts and listen to them in the car, when they go to bed at night, while they’re working or cooking dinner. I love to listen to music and enjoy an audio book now and then, but I haven’t been able to get into even one podcast. I thought I’d jump on my blog and ask if any of you like podcasts, and why? 

The ones I’ve tried are the highly rated ones: S-Town, This American Life, Invisibilia, and Stuff You Should Know. To be fair, I’ve only listened to one episode of each one and found them pretty uninteresting, and I was scratching my head in puzzlement. Do I need to just keep going to understand the appeal? I have experienced this with various television series before (for example, Doc Martin, which took quite a while to understand but now I wouldn’t miss it), so maybe someone needs to tell me to keep at it.

What are your favorite podcasts? Did you have to keep listening to be interested? Am I just old now, and completely and permanently disconnected from modern culture? I would love to read everyone’s opinions on this.

And I hope it’s warmer where you are than it is where I am.

I’m making those potatoes again…

March 30, 2018 | My Jottings

Every Easter I make Julie’s Stuffed Baked Potatoes, and the rest of my family brings the ham, vegetables, desserts, appetizers, etc. I shopped today for all the ingredients, and thought I would repost the recipe for those of you who haven’t tried these yet. They are moanworthy.

You will need large baking potatoes, cheese (I often use colbyjack but you could use cheddar, jack, pepper jack, whatever), blue cheese dressing, parmesan cheese, butter, green onions, and McCormick Salad Supreme.

First, bake your potatoes. I have two ovens, which comes in very handy on holidays. I baked my large baking potatoes in the smaller upper oven (you can see the pizza stone I store there) while the not-so-ho-hum ham was cooking in the larger oven below.

While your potatoes are baking, take some green onions and chop them up pretty fine. I used about 4-5 onions. One nice thing about this recipe is that you can just put in as much or as little of everything as you like. Experiment with the flavors and adjust as you go. You’ll see how I did that later. I use the green and the white of the green onions. Some people call them scallions but I never have. Maybe one of you can tell us why they’re called scallions – is it a regional thing? I don’t care as much for that name because it reminds me of the word scallywag, and the word scallywag reminds me of a certain person that I would prefer not to be reminded about when I’m making Stuffed Baked Potatoes.

This next part is important. Have all your ingredients ready in a bowl while your potatoes are baking, because it’s the heat of the baked potatoes that will cause everything to melt together nicely. Below you can see that I tossed in about two heaping cups of grated colbyjack cheese. We were feeding a lot of people on Easter.

Next, I added about 3/4 cup of blue cheese dressing and about 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. You could use less or more of either ingredient. I happen to love blue cheese dressing so I put in a lot. Maybe it was even closer to a cup of blue cheese dressing.

If you look closely now, you can see that the first potato is in there (I’ll get to that in a minute) and I also threw in about 3/4 of a stick of butter. This is Easter, so don’t worry about fat grams. You could worry about that the day after Easter. Well, don’t worry about things anyway.

Now I just started to mash things together a little bit. My potatoes were done baking. I smooshed things around with the fork while my daughter took photos with her very nice camera that she uses for her amazing photography business.

When the potatoes are done, I take them out one by one, hold them in an oven mitted hand, and gently cut them in half, taking care not to ruin my beautiful oven mitts.

I take a large spoon, and while cradling the hot potato in my mitt (please try not to notice the holes in my mitt) I gently scoop out the very hot potato innards.  I try not to ruin the skin, but sometimes it happens. See how there’s very little left of the innards? Then you can just set these forlorn looking skins on a baking sheet.

And they will look like this. Sort of like sad spudwaifs.

Because I have made this recipe hundreds of times, I can tell by looking if it’s what we’ll like. I could see after smooshing and mashing that for the number of people we were going to feed, we needed to add another handful of cheese. Just stir and mash with a fork until the hot potato innards have melted most of everything, and until you don’t have any clumps of unmashed potato left. If you do, that’s okay though. Potato clods never hurt anyone.

Now you can take your holey mitts off and start to fill the empty potato skins. The mixture will be cooled off enough to use your hands. Grab a few globs of cheesy goodness and press them into the potato skins.

Make sure you delicately lift your little finger as you do it, as a polite Englishwoman would do when sipping her afternoon tea. I’m not sure why this important, but just take my word for it.

When you have enough in a skin, it will look like this:

Not too much – just a little mound of the potato/cheese mixture will do.

You can find this product in the spices aisle at your grocery store. I’ve used it for years for just this one dish, and it adds color, great flavor and interest. It’s supposed to be for salads and pasta and I’ve never used it on either. Just on my Stuffed Baked Potatoes. (When McCormick comes out with a new product called McCormick Stuffed Baked Potato Topping, maybe then I’ll try it on my salads and pasta.)

Here are all the potato halves, stuffed with that delicious cheesy mixture, sprinkled conservatively with the Salad Supreme, and lined up ready to go back into the oven. If you lean to the left politically, then you could be a liberal sprinkler. For the most part I’m a conservative sprinkler.

I then bake them at about 375 or 400 degrees (I can’t remember which) until they get hot all the way through, maybe about fifteen minutes or so. Then about five minutes before I’m ready to serve my Stuffed Baked Potatoes, I turn on the broiler and begin to watch them carefully. I want them to get just a little bit darker and start to bubble. You could let them get browner than this if you like – just keep an eye on them.

Above, I took them out and thought they needed another two minutes under the broiler. Here’s the final result below:

And they are all gone.

These also freeze really well, reheat really well, taste good the next day for leftovers, and some people even like them packed in their lunches.

How do you fix your Stuffed Baked Potatoes?

Sharon and I were talking about all the variations that would be good with these – bacon bits, broccoli, rosemary, and a few other things I can’t remember now. What else would you add to your Stuffed Baked Potatoes?

Let me know if you try them.  Have a wonderful week…

Who’s praying for you?

February 22, 2018 | My Jottings

In light of the recent passing of Billy Graham, I thought I would republish this old post of mine about Billy’s wife Ruth.

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Several years ago the phone rang while I was vacuuming, and I thought I’d let it go over to voice mail. Then I saw that Michael picked it up in the garage and was speaking with someone for quite a while. When he hung up the phone he came in the back door with tears in his eyes, and my stomach sank as I thought the absolute worst and then whispered to him, “Who was that?”

“Ruth Graham,” he answered emotionally.

It took me a few seconds to react and I stood there staring at him, saying nothing. Ruth Graham, Ruth Graham, Ruth Graham – I was searching through mental files for something that would click, because I was expecting news about a family member.

Then it registered.

“Billy’s wife?” I asked incredulously. He nodded and his tears spilled over as he told me why she had called. Most of you probably know that Ruth Bell Graham had been an invalid for quite a while before her death a few years ago, but apparently she hadn’t let that stop her from impacting the kingdom for Christ.

I’d read that even though she was bedridden and in constant pain, she studied her Bible and spent hours in prayer each day, and that her passion for Jesus hadn’t been diminished by her suffering. So on this particular day, Mrs. Billy Graham was volunteering for her son Franklin’s organization, and she called to thank us for giving to Samaritan’s Purse. Michael and I had sent a small donation a few weeks before.

After she thanked Michael, Mrs. Graham chatted with him and asked him if there was anything she could lift up to the Lord for our family. He told her about one of our daughters, who was a prodigal taking a faraway path. For the next couple of minutes, Michael bowed his head and tried to keep from sobbing while Ruth Graham compassionately and powerfully prayed for our girl by name. Mrs. Graham knew a thing or two about prodigals from her own experience. I will never forget that blessing, that gift from God to my husband and me, and how greatly that encouraged us.

CoverPhoto_Obit

I remember marveling as I did the rest of my housework that day, “Ruth Graham has our phone number!” 🙂  And the next time we saw our daughter we told her that Mrs. Billy Graham had prayed for her, and she was surprised and encouraged too.

Over the years we began to see the hand of God move in our daughter’s life, just as we’ve seen His hand in our other daughters’ lives, and of course in our own lives as well. He has been faithful and merciful. Ruth Bell Graham isn’t the only one who has prayed for our family. We have cried out to God for our family, in whispered prayers while driving, in silence while doing dishes, in wailing and in weeping while snotting into the couch cushions, and I suppose we will continue to pray until we take our last breath on this earth – the needs are many and the Supplier is great.

Which one of you doesn’t relate? Aren’t we all deeply yearning for God to intervene in our lives and in the lives of the ones we love? I think the hardest thing about prayer is God’s timing. I have found it difficult to continue to pray in faith while wondering why God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to tend to my cries and important requests. But I’m learning. He’s teaching me patience and trust. My progress is snail-like, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.

So who is praying for you today? Your friends? Your spouse? Your pastor? Romans 8:34 says that even Jesus is ever interceding for us. I don’t fully understand this, but I accept it and give thanks.

I am no Ruth Graham, but I would be honored to pray for you today. We don’t even have to know each other – if you happened across this blog and you would like prayer for anything at all, please e-mail me and I will pray for you and keep your request confidential. I will sit quietly with you in God’s Waiting Room as you watch to see His hand move in those situations and people so dear to your heart.

Kneeling down and looking up,

The Day The World Almost Blew Apart

January 11, 2018 | My Jottings

One winter afternoon my seven year-old granddaughter went missing, and for the first time in my life I knew what genuine terror felt like.

It was in early 2014, and I was sitting in the living room with Michael as I always did, once we’d reached the point in his illness (Parkinson’s with Lewy Body Dementia) where I couldn’t leave him alone anymore for more than a minute or two. I was keeping him company as he watched Bonanza on TV. My thoughts had turned again toward how I was going to make dinner and keep him from getting up on his own and hurting himself, how could I once again try to explain to him and actually have him understand, that I’d just be in the next room and would be back with him soon.

The phone rang and it was my son-in-law Chris, asking if seven year-old Margaret had come over to my house after school. She had not. Adrenaline shot through me, and in two seconds my mind leaped to this sickening conclusion: Margaret didn’t make it home after school, some evil man had taken her and they were already on their way out of state, we would never see her again, and darkness and despair would engulf and paralyze our family, and we’d never claw our way out of it. The fear that gripped me felt truly hellish.

I quickly moved to help Michael downstairs into the basement, then out to the attached garage and into the car. We raced over to Chris and Sharon’s neighborhood, where several friends were already going door to door asking about a pretty little dark-haired girl in a khaki school uniform and a pink coat. The police were called. A photograph of Margaret was given. A white van with no windows that had been seen exiting the alley around the time Margaret normally got off the bus was reported.

We tried to reach Sharon, my oldest daughter and Margaret’s mom, but her phone was off because she was busy with a photography session at her work studio. In minutes three police cars rolled up, and Chris and Sharon’s house was searched. Chris could tell he was under suspicion, because those closest to a child always are. After the police searched the house once, they asked for permission to search the entire property again, looking deeper and more carefully this time — in the basement behind the furnace, in the attic crawl space, in the garage rafters, under the tarp in the back of the truck.

Margaret knew the rules, that she could never under any circumstances talk to a stranger, or allow them to get close if she could help it. She was an obedient, bright and lively little girl. We all knew she would never have willingly gone with someone. I couldn’t help thinking about how we are the products of a society with Elizabeth Smarts and Jacob Wetterlings and media reporting that never lets up, so we choose the lesser of two evils and instill an unnatural fear in our little ones rather than risk losing them forever to sick perverts.

Had I ever prayed before this day? Had any of my years of seemingly earnest prayers since learning about God’s love and power in my three year-old Sunday School ever really been as true and desperate as this? As Michael and I drove around with our windows open in the bitter cold, the car heat and radio off so we could hear any little cry, I whispered under my breath a thousand times, please God, please God, please God, with every pound of my heart.

Up and down the streets we drove, looking left and right, stopping every single person we saw and asking if they’d seen a pretty little girl with dark hair, a khaki school uniform and pink coat? No one had. As I drove east on Superior Street I saw a squad car one street down, driving slowly, looking for my flesh and blood whom I wasn’t sure got a hug and kiss from me the last time I’d seen her.

By this time Sharon had been reached and she had joined in the search. How she was not screaming, I didn’t know. A quiet, fierce determination was on her face as she drove and looked and drove and looked, urgently leaning forward over the steering wheel.

Margaret’s friends’ families were called. No one had seen her. The bus company was called, the bus checked to no avail, and prayer chains activated in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

When the sun began to set, Margaret had been gone for over two hours. I had to stop searching and go home to begin dinner and evening cares for my two foster women with disabilities. I wanted to tear my skin off my body with the cruel incongruity of needing to go home to make salad and spaghetti for our fosters and help my husband go to the bathroom while my beloved granddaughter had vanished.

I knew that if the next day came and she was still gone, I would never again be able to do normal things.

After I filled a pot with water and set it on the stove to boil, I went to our bedroom. I vividly remember laying across our bed, putting my face into our sheets and wailing out my prayers to God. I didn’t care if the neighbors heard, and I knew our fosters would be sitting in their rooms wondering what had happened to their foster mom, but that didn’t deter me from sobbing. While my ailing husband sat helplessly in a bedroom chair, quietly distressed and unable to speak well, I howled out my plea to God. PLEEASE! Bring her back! God! You know where she is! I paced, I sobbed, I slashed the air with my hands as I prayed. I got back down on my knees again and pleaded, “Michael, pray with me!” and he bowed his head and whispered the most urgent, “Help us Jesus!” prayers his frozen body and fading mind would allow.

Somehow I served dinner. As the winter sun went down and the outside temperature dropped, my body slowed from exhaustion, but my mind was still under siege: I felt like I was close to losing my grip on sanity. I couldn’t allow my thoughts to wander to what might be happening with Margaret.

I kept crying and praying, begging God to give me another chance to show my love to my precious granddaughter. I couldn’t even bring myself to ponder what her parents were going through as they searched the streets and empty lots, and went door to door for hours.

When the phone rang and I heard Sharon’s elated, “They found her!” I sank to the floor and sobbed in relief and joy. Margaret had gotten off the bus and accepted the invitation of a new little girl in her class to come over and play. She had called out this information to her sister Eleanor and assumed she had heard.

A police officer who’d been searching for two hours spied a little girl with a pink coat bouncing up a neighborhood street on her way home after a nice time at her new friend’s house. Margaret was alarmed when he stopped her and asked her name, then insisted she get in the car with him so he could take her home.

I wept out the words thank you thank you thank you to Jesus over and over that night. I will never be able to thank Him enough for the priceless gift of Margaret. For the riches of all my grandchildren, my daughters, for life.

My own grandmother never hid the fact that she was, at best, ho-hum about having me for her granddaughter. She never really showed me much love or interest. As each of my ten grandchildren have entered the world and gloriously turned our hearts and lives upside down, I’ve wanted to be different, and make certain they know how much I treasure them.

I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after Margaret came back to us on that historic day. That experience simultaneously freed and imprisoned me.

To the frustration of all my grandchildren, when they ask to leave my yard, perhaps to skateboard down the sidewalk, or ride their bikes on the nearby Lakewalk, unless I’m with them the answer is always no.

But to their reluctant grins and and I hope their delight, they never leave my presence without kisses and hugs, words of encouragement, games of Farkle, and a thousand or so I love yous.

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