The Empty Tomb

April 7, 2012 | My Jottings

When I got up this morning and came downstairs, this was the centerpiece on our kitchen table:

Sara made it as a surprise for us, and I love it. If you click to enlarge the photo, you can better see the stone rolled away from the empty tomb. It’s the One Thing that our lives hinge on.

From our home to yours, may you have a very blessed Easter.

He is risen!

Good Friday

April 6, 2012 | My Jottings

Good Friday is the day when you can do nothing. Bewailing and lamenting your manifold sins does not in itself make up for them. Scouring your soul in a frenzy of spring cleaning only sterilizes it; it does not give life. On Good Friday, finally, we are all, mourners and mockers alike, reduced to the same impotence. Someone else is doing the terrible work that gives life to the world.

Virginia Stem Owens

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Soaring with books

April 5, 2012 | My Jottings

Last night four sevenths of my grandchildren came over for a little visit. Jeremy and Carolyn’s little ones always know how to make themselves comfortable when they’re here, and it’s fun for me to see what they gravitate toward after they fly in the back door.

First there are hugs. Audrey runs to me with a loud and high-pitched “Grandmaaa!” and she throws herself at me for a hug. Clara puts her arms around me, smiles and quietly says, “Hi Grandma. I’ve missed you.” Elijah waves and gives me that dimpled grin of his, and Vivie just sort of lights up with delight in general.

The older ones usually grab books. I try to buy one or two new books each month so there will always be something new to discover when they come over. They also return to their old favorites, reading them over and over again. Last night, Clara and Elijah plopped themselves on the living room couch and plunged into the Tintin books that they love and I don’t really get.  🙂

Vivienne and Audrey set up camp on the floor and began building cathedrals and birdcages with our Magformers. Vivie went back and forth between the building and the books — she’s pictured above looking over Elijah’s shoulder as he reads. (That sounds like a book title: Between the Building and the Books…) Clara is in the pink on the left.

If anyone asked me what they should have in their house for grandchildren to enjoy, here’s what I would answer:

1.  Lots of drawing paper and colored pencils and crayons
2. Things to build with, like Legos and Magformers.
3. Books, books and more books.

“So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: they begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky.” ~ William James

I love that quote, and I love watching it happen right before my eyes even more.

I sliced up several ripe pears last night and while my four grandbabies were reading, drawing and building, they snacked on those.

I read this book out loud to the two little ones and they loved it. I would really recommend Jan Brett’s books, especially for any child who has a penchant for drawing. Her illustrations are so detailed and amazing, it seems like an art course just to study one of her delightful books.

Spending time with my grandchildren always makes me feel like the most blessed woman in the world. I just cannot wrap my mind around what treasures they are, how lavish God has been with our family, to entrust us with these seven, soon-to-be-eight little lives.

What favorite things do you have on hand for the children in your life?

Courage, hope, love…and the Cross

April 2, 2012 | My Jottings

My friend Ember went on a family trip recently to a place Michael and I fell in love with when we visited England in 2007 — Yorkshire. As he and I drove the back roads and visited some of the villages, and as we walked in awe through the York Minster, we dreamed of living in northern England. Silly dreams, I guess, but we dreamed them anyway.

Recently Ember sent me a beautiful carved wooden cross from Thicket Priory in Yorkshire. Its soft, rounded edges and diagonal slant make it perfect for holding in the palm of one’s hand. I keep it on my nightstand near our bed, and love to hold it in my left hand and ponder what it means to me.

Of course this gift makes me think of a caring friend who prays for and encourages me. She makes me laugh and blesses my life in many ways.

I also think of what the cross of Christ means to followers of Jesus. I read this quote recently and gratitude welled up in me once again, for how truly astonishing the love of God is…

“For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God,
while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man.

“Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be;
God sacrifices Himself for man and puts Himself where only man deserves to be.

“Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone;
God accepts penalties that belong to man alone.”

John Stott, from The Cross of Christ

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Ember also sent three cards with words representing what I need right now in my journey. Courage for whatever difficult, beautiful things might be ahead, hope for the sale of our house and possible move to a new home, and love.

I am blessed.  🙂

I woke this morning to flashes of lightning and hard rain hitting the windows of our bedroom, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I came downstairs, turned up the heat a little, and read my email and a couple of my favorite blogs.

Today will be a full day of appointments and appointment-making. And even though it’s Michael’s 63rd birthday, I will be driving one of our gals south so she can spend time with a family member this week.

Last night our family gathered at Michael’s favorite Vietnamese restaurant to celebrate his birthday a day early, and it was noisy and sweet. My seven grandchildren seem to change and grow before my very eyes, and in a little over three months I will meet my newest granddaughter when she is born. Sharon and Chris are calling her Baby Shamrock right now.

I think of all the things I dream about for my children and grandchildren, and I guess these three words really do express my deepest prayers for them all.

I know they will all face hard times, and I want them to take courage when those times come. I want them to be brave, knowing that challenging times will pass, that courageous, good decisions really will change the course of their lives, and that they can trust in the Lord when their own courage fails them.

I want my peeps to have hope. I want them to hang on when things seem hopeless, and wait patiently for the God of all hope to make Himself known in whatever circumstances they face. I will remind them that I’ve felt hopeless in my lifetime, and God has always come through and given me hope just when I’ve needed it most. My family knows that cardinals are a wondrous sign of His hope for me.

And I want my loved ones to know love. Not love as the world so falsely portrays, but real love. The kind of love that is patient and kind, and not envious or boastful or proud. The kind of love that honors people whether they seem to deserve it or not. I want the kind of love that causes people to lay down their selfishness and anger, to permeate their lives. The kind of love that doesn’t tally up all the wrongs done, but is truthful, protective, loyal and persevering.

I certainly didn’t always model this kind of love in my life. It’s this very sobering confession that makes me want something different for my own kin. Of course they knew I loved them and would give my life for them, but I have a memory or three that I would give anything to do over.

I believe that true courage, hope and love were spectacularly displayed by Jesus, all during His life on earth and especially on the cross. So when I ask Jesus to give my husband, my children, my grandchildren and me courage, hope and love, I know I’m going to the One person who has a limitless supply of all three.

God bless your week, dear ones…