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I am thankful

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This picture makes me happy. And thankful. It doesn’t reveal much but it represents just shy of 191 years of life. Our lives. Four generations still living and laughing and loving and venturing out on a beautiful day to have our photographs taken. Photographs that will hang on our walls or lie close at hand in albums (yes some of us still have those), reminding us how blessed we are.

I wonder if I’ve done enough (says every mother on the planet) as a daughter, a mom, a grandmother. Am I passing on the important things? The funny stories? The wisdom gleaned from familial struggles overcome? Am I taking the time to make lasting memories? Am I looking in their faces and making my own indelible memories of lines and details and expressions of who they are, these loves of mine?

We’ve argued and angered and disappointed and forgiven. We’ve screamed (well, only two of us) and cried and laughed and given grace. We’ve ignored and listened and worried and prayed. We’ve prayed a lot. We’ve frustrated and helped and hoped and healed. Mostly we’ve loved. And I am thankful.

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We weren’t the only ones at this lovely park. Countless teenagers dressed to the nines were there having their photographs taken as well, homecoming pictures or something of the sort. Little do they know the moments that seem so important at that age are seldom truly memorable. Our movement among them was slow, Mom taking her time and resting when needed, perhaps provoking a few questioning looks as we waited in line behind the teens for the choice spots. How could they possibly know the meaning of the four of us together?

When do you learn the meaning of this kind of love? When you hold that newborn? When you look into the eyes of that grandbaby? When you beg time to slow down as your little one grows too fast for your liking? When your grown child falls into your arms, bruised and broken? When you sit with your arm underneath your mom so the hospital bed will be tolerable? When you linger around the table, tears streaming from laughter, unable to imagine life without them?

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It won’t always be like this. There won’t always be the four of us together on this earth. But there will always be this love. And I am thankful.

 

I am thankfulwas written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photographs by Andie Campbell and cannot be used without permission.

 

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Making apple roses

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It was one of those days.  Oh, not one of those days that I usually complain about, but the kind that seem to be much more elusive.  A day that was full and busy yet strangely peaceful and entirely enjoyable.  I had a plan and lots to do and normally I approach those days with an over-complicated list and an expectation of perfection.  My nature is to map it all out with the end goal being production not fun.  But not yesterday.

Kylie had spent the night and I considered having her mom pick her up right after morning service as I had so much to do in preparation for our ladies event that evening.  But having only very recently received the Best Grandma Award

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I decided to invite her to stay and help me with the new recipe I had in mind.  She graciously accepted my invitation and after a quick lunch of mac and cheese and frozen chicken-somethings that neither of us liked, we began.  We measured and mixed and microwaved.  We stirred and patted and rolled and had more than a few tastes along the way.  We spread and poured and sifted until it looked as if a snow storm had blown through the kitchen.

And I watched.

I watched her concentrate as she placed single blueberries in just the right spot.  I watched the movement of her hands as she lay apple slices on the pastry dough and carefully rolled it into a flower.  I watched her delight as we took our apple roses from the oven and they were just as beautiful as the picture in the video recipe.  I looked at her little face with blueberry juice smeared on her forehead and sugar powdering her cheeks and experienced a depth of love and height of joy that perhaps only a grandmother knows.

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My trek to the coffee pot this morning found me walking a little funny as my feet experienced the stickiness of spilled apricot preserves that remained after a rapid attempt to wipe them up.  The adhesive nature of my steps lasted only a few seconds as they were then quickly coated with the flour and powdered sugar that easily blended with the color of the tile.  I hate walking barefoot on dirty floors, but rather than let annoyance take over and begin the process of cleaning, I put on my slippers, fixed my coffee and replayed the previous day in my mind.  The evening was very, very good with Chandra Peele as our speaker.  I encourage you to check out her website Chandra Peele and invite her to your next ladies event!  But I’m sorry, Chandra, as much as I truly enjoyed and appreciated your wonderful message, it wasn’t the best part of my day.  The best part was that in all the “work” we had to do that afternoon, I got to enjoy my granddaughter.

I love that she wasn’t worried about making a mess.  I love that she is relaxed with me and unafraid of making mistakes.  I love that she is completely confident that I am there to help with anything she needs.  I love that she knows I will be pleased with her best effort and that is what makes the results perfect to me.  (I only wish that my children had known this me.)

I talk about her a lot.  A LOT.  I can’t help it.  Having children taught me so much about God as my Father, but having grandchildren takes it to a whole new level!  He reminds me when I look at her with love that is inexpressible that He looks at me the same.  He tells me again and again that I need have no fear of making mistakes or asking for His help.  He encourages me to relax and just enjoy His presence in all the “work” I have to do.  And once again I ask myself “Why do I make it all so complicated?”

I have a lot to do today.  A lot to do this week.  And I’m already behind schedule.  But rather than take on the pressure of my own very-often-unrealistic expectations, I want to enjoy His presence in everything I do, confident that He is with me to help with anything I need and unafraid of making mistakes.  I may make a few messes along the way, but I can’t worry about that.  He invites me to enjoy Him and it is in this relaxed trust that I am more able to hear Him and follow where He leads rather than go my own way.

Making apple roses was much easier than I expected and most certainly more fun.  But it wouldn’t have been as much fun if I had been alone.  What do you have to do this week?  Remember, you are not alone.  Allow yourself to be loved deeply and don’t worry about making mistakes.  Be confident that it is in this trust that He will speak and lead.  Relax, refocus, and enjoy Him and understand that He is watching and enjoying you.

And for those who would like to try the recipe:  Apple Rose Tarts

 

Making apple roses” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photographs by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

A family gathers

We’ll be together tomorrow, a group of diverse souls who just happen to be related to each other.  We’ll bring our potluck dishes, as we’ve never been a family prone to the traditional menu, and we will be thankful for our many, many blessings. We will eat and visit and play games and possibly nap.  And we will love.

While we have faithfully gathered year after year, it hasn’t always been easy to be together.  There were years where the atmosphere was somewhat tense, undercurrents of the unresolved flowing beneath our attempts at pleasantries with the occasional awkward silences that accompany strained conversation. Difficulties between parents and children, sisters and brothers are inevitable, I suppose in every family, if much time at all is spent together.  So I am particularly thankful this year that we have weathered the storms that often drown families, scattering them amongst the waves where they are continually tossed and never find the calm waters of love and acceptance and forgiveness that we have found.

Our mother is 85 years old and will be the center of the gathering.  There is no greater delight for her than to have her children near.  She has watched us grow, graduate, marry, divorce, rejoice, suffer, and relocate to further away than she would have liked.  She watched as we struggled in our relationships with our father and each other, and experienced the joys and sorrows of our developing relationships with her.  We shattered her dreams countless times, I’m sure, yet each time she simply formed new dreams and loved us all the more.  I believe her to be central to the wholeness our family was able to find, not because she was highly educated or learned in the emotional or psychological needs we had, but because she prayed.  Passionately.

She’s loved us equally and maintained high expectations of the kind of people we should be – respectful, honest, and good.  And while having the same expectations for each of us, she also has very unique, one-of-a-kind relationships with each of us.   She knows us in a way we do not know each other, and the same is true of how we see her.  She has revealed herself to us in different ways at different times for different reasons. Should she respond to me or deal with me exactly as she does one of my siblings, I would be disappointed or frustrated, feeling that she didn’t really know me.  If she had the expectation that I would always treat her exactly as a sibling may, I would feel the pressure of having to perform in a way I am ill-equipped to do.  Our relationship would become uncomfortable and empty of understanding.

Sometimes it hasn’t been easy for this family of God to gather together.  There’ve been misunderstandings and difficulties because we are so different in so many ways.  Undercurrents of the unresolved have become storms that scattered many.  Sometimes it has been tense and uncomfortable, with many an awkward moment.  Often we’ve tried to pressure others to be just like us, arrogantly thinking our way surely must be best.  Yet we are a family He calls to gather together.

I am thankful I have a praying mother.  And I am thankful that I have a Father God that is big enough to have high expectations of what kind of children we will be while also enjoying unique relationships with each of His children.  He loves us equally.  He knows each of us in a way no one else does.  He reveals Himself to us in different ways at different times for different reasons.  He responds to us differently and deals with us differently, all without any contradiction of Himself.  He puts no pressure on us that we must all perform in the same manner.  He is God and is true to His word that He will make us – each of us – what we ought to be as we seek Him.

Now may the God of peace, Who is the Author and the Giver of peace…strengthen (complete and perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; while He Himself works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen     Hebrews 13:20-21

 Happy Thanksgiving!!