Tag Archives: grandchildren

A Narnia kind of summer

Madelyn, 6; Joey, 7; and Ella, 1.75

Madelyn, 6; Joey, 7; and Ella, 1.75

One of the most positive things about being in a job transition is that I have been able to have a delightful time sharing unexpected moments with my grandchildren.

It’s been a Narnia kind of summer for me. Not all bad, not all good, but full of unexpected surprises.

Two days ago, after spending a delightful Sunday lunch with three of our four grandchildren and their other grandmother — my husband and I took Ella June, who is 21-months-old, and Joey, almost 7, home for the rest of the day.

We quickly changed into swimwear and headed to the neighborhood pool.

“Nana, nana, Papa, Papa,” Ella squealed. She relished at jumping into our arms, floating around using a special safety device, and climbing the steps to splash with me in the kiddie pool.

Joey jumped off the diving board a few times, raced me to the side of the pool to claim his goggles, and snorkeled with Papa for a bit before heading off to meet some of the kids from near his house.

It’s been a lot of fun to live in the same neighborhood just a few blocks away from our children and grandchildren for the past few months. They bring certain peace and great joy.

I really got a look when I suggested a popular burger place and ice cream for a quick dinner. I know my husband must have thought I got too much sun or something!

Tucking the kids into bed later and snapping off the light, I remember thinking about all of the little snatches of conversation we had. There was the “talk” about a new bedspread for the kids room I am making from a Bible storytelling cloth. There was the conversation about healthy food we eat (usually) to take care of the bodies God gave us. There was the easy choice of C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian to watch at home after dinner.

Prince Caspian through the eyes of a seven year old was pure joy. Instead of a typical war movie or a movie about the battle between good and evil, it was the opportune time for Joey to learn how C.S. Lewis wove biblical principles into almost every aspect of the battle–from the strategy of always being ready to give a good defense–to showing mercy and grace. The idea of how evil will tempt us and those whom we love. And how we can go to God (Aslan) who is waiting for us–on our behalf and also intercede for others. It was as if in every minute of the movie, there was another clear principle. And Joey got it. I mean he really, really got it. He was articulate about pointing out the principles all of the way through.

Wow. I really admired C.S. Lewis before and I’ve long been a fan, but now I know for sure. It’s not the writing, the actors, the presentation, the scenes, the technicians, or the moviemakers. It’s the sheer story in all of its glory that holds me and my grandchildren.

It’s the knowledge that in the background, all-knowing Aslan is watching over everything.

This morning, after I talked to his baby sister on the phone and after we discussed rewriting a story for a better lead, and I showed him the before and after story I recently completed for a client–Joey asked me about the genuine Turkish Delight he discovered in my food cupboard.

“Can I try it?”

“But of course,” I told him. “Who do you think I got it for.”

“I thought so,” he dimpled. “I thought so.”

So much fun in just a few hours.

Deeply enriching. Full of meaning.

All a part of our Narnia kind of summer.

Resting in the knowledge that our all-knowing God is ever present. He provides joy, peace, comfort and contentment. And often He does it through those little ones we are privileged to call grandchildren.

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July 29, 2014 · 11:27 pm

Weighty words for Mother’s Day

“You did good.”

Just three fleeting words uttered by a kind-of-grumpy man trying to read a newspaper while his zealous wife pumped me for information on my family made a huge impression.

Catching up last Sunday at a Mexican restaurant with most of the family in one place was pure pleasure. We have just made one of the biggest leaps of faith ever. I gave my notice at work about four months ago. I left a job I loved because after 12 years of continual RIF and increasing Social Media ROI—it simply consumed me.

At the end of a double table, while my tortillas grew chilly, I bounced my 18-mos-old granddaughter back and forth between my husband and me.

An older woman at a small table just a few feet away looked over at our table with unabashed curiosity—peppering me with questions about where we lived, how many children I had, who were my children, how many grandchildren I had, where they went to school, etc.

My head was swiveling back and forth while I tried to pay attention to the delightful chatter of my son and his pregnant wife, two of their three children, my newly engaged daughter, and grinning Papa—who finally tried one last time to place Ella in the high chair.

The child was having none of it. She had missed all of her naps on this worshipful and social Sunday. She finally cuddled up and let me rock her. My guacamole was glazing over at this point.

“Oh, she is just so adorable,” the curly-haired, distracting woman said.

“Thank you.”

“What’s her name.”

“Ella—er, Elizabeth.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful. And she looks like her mom and her brother.”

The woman pointed to my side of the table where my daughter sat with my 7-year-old grandson, her nephew.

I explained patiently that all of the children belonged to the young woman on the other side of the table. The beautiful, obviously pregnant, brunette.

“Oh, my. That’s going to be a handful,” the old woman said in surprise.

Actually, I said, that’s not all. Five-year-old Madelyn is with her other grandmother right now. So they will have three girls. “Charlotte, the new baby; Elizabeth; and Madelyn.”

“Goodness.”

Then without missing a beat—my new-found friend said, “Well, at least she looks calm.”

Indeed, she did. After a long week sorting, packing, doing laundry and cleaning; driving children to and from school; managing the finances of her husband’s business; and preparing for a move into a new home—she was chatting at dinner with the family.

I am proud of Melissa. Motherhood can be a challenge at any stage—but with two elementary age children, and one in diapers and one on the way—she does an excellent job of caring for her children and her home.

I am proud of my son, John, who supports his wife, and for both of them who know that Christ alone offers the true source of strength and success.

As my daughter, Belinda, finished her meal, she scooped Ella up so I could eat. I turned and asked my new friends to excuse me.

Lost in a quick discussion of wedding colors, we ended dinner on a high note.

Giving the couple a quick wave as I picked up my purse in one hand and the diaper bag in another—I barely heard the words over the top of the newspaper—but I saw the intensity of the man’s gaze through his glasses, and that look stopped me in my tracks.

A man of few words—he had mostly observed the exchange at our table and the one between his wife and me. But his words have meant a lot this week as I ponder what kind of mother I am, what kind of helpmate I am to my husband, and what the future holds for me.

“You did good.”

 

 

 

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Saying bye, again

I waved and she leaned in close to give me a kiss. I could almost feel her breath on my face as her moist, little lips closed in.

When her plump face drew back in surprise at colliding with the screen of the iPhone, I was glad my 8-month old granddaughter was too small to notice the sudden reddening of my face or the quick tear that slid unhindered down my cheek.

Saying bye-bye is hard. And last week was bittersweet.

Nana and the three grands, Madelyn, 4, Ella, 8 mos, and Joey, 6, in Houston.

Nana and the three grands, Madelyn, 4, Ella, 8 mos, and Joey, 6, in Houston.

My husband and I spent nearly a week hard at work during the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston knowing our three grandchildren and son and daughter in law had just moved to the large city, just three miles from our hotel. When the majority of our work was over, we switched hotels and I continued to work, but spent some time catching up with the family (my oldest daughter joined us on her way from a business trip) and celebrating my husband’s birthday and then Father’s Day before we boarded a plane back to Jacksonville.

I’m so very proud of my son, partner in a wonderful Houston business which provides office furniture and consults for people. I know moving his family to Houston is the best thing for them. The family joined Houston’s First Baptist Church on their first Sunday there-when we were all together. Joey and Madelyn, 6 and 4, are already enrolled in school there, one of the best Christian schools in the nation. Houston is a great city with a lot to do and a huge mall!

Nonetheless, I’ll miss the family togetherness we have enjoyed these past few years–sitting in the family pew at First Baptist Jacksonville, swimming and snorkeling in the pool, cuddling in the living room, and eating at Nana’s favorite restaurant, Maggianos.

I’ll miss watching Joey skip to catch up to the Papa he adores and grab his hand before crossing a parking lot to be with the Daddy he loves to tease.

I’ll miss watching Ms. Maddy climb into Papa’s lap in the recliner and fall fast asleep and Aunt B helping herd everyone upstairs to the “kid’s room” to spend the night.

And I’ll miss Baby Elizabeth June giggle and laugh and find peace as Papa carts her around and tosses her in the air–even while searching with Melissa for a pacifier we both know Ella doesn’t really want!

I’ll miss the nursery rhymes and Narnia at bedtime, the prayers and reminders, reciting Psalm 23 and those cheeks pressed against mine, now separated by a layer of glass, an hour time-zone difference, and hundreds of miles.

And for sure I’ll miss knowing my family’s only an arm-length away after covering a tragedy, viewing horrific visuals, or reporting on disaster.

But the writer of Ecclesiastes said for everything there is a season and I know this is a season of change for us all. God in His providence has provided a clear path for John and his family.

I am at peace knowing that God is in control and it is Him Who I trust.

There are people who have said, “You must be devastated.” To them, I can honestly reply, “I am not.” Sure I am sad. I will weep. I will reach out and there will be no soft body to squeeze when I want it to be there. But there are iPhones, there are cameras, there are countless other grandpas and grandmas who have endured separations — and rejoiced in what God has done in the lives of their children and grandchildren. I am not alone.

God is in control. He has held me in the palm of His hand for more than 40 years. He has counted every hair on my head since I had hair, and knew me in my Mother’s womb more than 51 years ago. He knows my needs. He knows Papa John’s needs and Aunt Belinda’s needs. And He will take care.

He knows the needs of John and Melissa, Joey, Maddy and Ella June.

I trust Him.

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Narnia’s truth & fantasy perfect after VBS & ‘Ice Age 4’

Last night after Creation Quest VBS and the Friday night opening of “Ice Age: Continental Drift”— my grandchildren instructed me to read them C.S. Lewis’, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Again.

And it wasn’t the pop-up “Narnia” they wanted either. No, Joey, 5, and Madelyn, 3, bypassed the colorful condensed summary of Lewis’ most enduring works, they eschewed my famous nursery rhyme re-enactments, they waved aside any notion of the re-telling of the “Three Little Pigs” or “The Story of the Three Bears” and even gave me a thumbs down when I suggested reading one of their specials from an illustrated collection of Bible stories for children.

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Instead, they chose the perfect combination of truth and fantasy that doesn’t contradict, doesn’t confuse. It complements, expands and explores.

And Joey suggested drowsily, after the first chapter, “Nana, maybe tomorrow we can watch the movie again.”

It was about this time three summers ago, after disregarding what most of the online commentaries advised, we first sat together and watched what has become our beloved Narnia. Once Lucy stepped from the cupboard into the forest, Joey was transfixed—Narnia has been our special place ever since.

After watching the movie I bought every version of the book I could find—and for a while read as much as I could whenever he would spend the night. Then after awhile Madelyn joined in.

Viewing one of the sequels in a movie theater with the family, Joey told Papa, “Aslan is God.” At age 3, our precocious little guy understood early that Aslan represents Christ.

And for those who are shocked, because, yes, Narnia can be very violent—that’s what fast forward buttons and Nana’s soft hands are for. Protecting little eyes. There’s a lot of violence in our world—and even nursery rhymes, the big bad wolf and Noah’s Ark can turn dangerous. It’s up to all of us to put this into perspective for the little ones.

Speaking of putting things into perspective. I think that’s what Joey and Maddy wanted last night. After a week of hand’s-on VBS at our church where they learned about all things related to creation—including a breakdown of the body, animals, the earth, and the solar system—they watched an animated movie that touched on some of these elements, but in such a distorted way their minds must have been on overload.

Children yearning for truth but craving for fantasy will no doubt adore C.S. Lewis. I have only to start telling the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy—and their great adventure that begins in a wooden wardrobe much like the one standing in my spare room: “And now there was no mistaking it and all four children stood blinking into the daylight of a winter day. Behind them were coats hanging on pegs. In front of them were snow-covered trees.”

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