Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learning Delight

 “A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg.” GK Chesterton (See Part IV “The Ethics of Elfland” in Orthodoxy)

Upon my arrival a hoop and holler let out. Hugs were exchanged and then the requests began. "Can we play school? Can I tell you about the water cycle? Wead Mommo." Tiny feet made big noise on the living room floor as I was treated to dancing and skipping, twirling and tumbling.

The Sprittles were happy to see me, and I was delighted to see them. It had been a long day of driving with unexpected delays. Road construction had stretched the typical 9 hours into 11. But now, in this room, surrounded by these lives, my heart was bursting at its seams. With joy.

Grandchildren are a treasure. They are a blessing in our older years. They remind us that we are more than our wrinkles and weariness. In their presence we rediscover our child within,

lost in rapture at plastic toys at the farm store,


trying on cowboy hats,



sharing Tic Tacs with brothers,


being excited about our new marbles,



on the floor playing,



having a tea party with peanut butter m&ms,




wiggling in the seats during the church service, finding disguises in unlikely places.


My grandchildren teach me how to delight, in them, in life, in God. They inspire me to dance and laugh when the world is heavy on my shoulders. They help me rediscover awe in the processes of God's creation around me. They give love so easily.


My grandchildren teach me. . . how to be a child. . . of God.

We teach them God's fear, and they teach us His delight!

My naming of one thousand gifts--
214. My Dear Professor's graciousness in granting me time away from packing to keep a promise
215. Safe travel both ways in an elderly vehicle
216. Beautiful weather
217. Music to pass the hours
218. Time to listen to God's heart
219. Remembering the good places to stop for fuel
220. Successfully navigating DC
221. Telling bedtime stories
222. Prayers for Lady Gaga to sing songs for Jesus
223. Hugs
224. Swings
225. "Mimi" Ryder guns
226. Brushing teeth on the go
227. Marbles
228. Finding miniature doggies at the dollar store
229. Small spoons in tiny teacups
230. Tiny tea sets
231. Tea parties
232. Watching a mother and daughter wash dishes together
233. Hearing my name called out in love and excitement
234. Learning about the water cycle from a 6 year old genius
235. Watching my son with his children
236. A 2 year old masseur armed with diaper wipes
237. Flowering trees
238. Sprittle number 4 growing in Beautiful Mommy's tummy
239. Sharing a book with a dear daughter-in-love
240. Being asked to stay longer

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Lifetime's Not Too Long

She has played many roles--wife, mother, foster parent, janitor's wife, church pianist, church secretary, choir director, prayer partner, pastor's wife, grandmother, teacher.

I have known her best simply as friend. 

It was music that brought us together, and for a brief time, working in the same office.  We call each other Thelma and Louise because of our shared innate ability to get into difficult situations together, none of which I will chronicle here.  (You'll have to wait for that until after the statute of limitations expires.) We are notorious for sharing a brain that has a mind of its own and spends most of its time on vacation at exotic locales far away from the both of us.

Thanks to a major confluence of events(or could it have been...God?!) involving a local radio talk show giveaway,  my acting on an impulse, a charged cell phone, uncharacteristic patience and perseverance (I dialed...8 times?) and a guess(!) that was the right answer, I ended up with two free tickets to a concert Thursday night.  My Dear Professor's chronic fatigue now prohibits long drives from home and attending late night events, and so the second ticket was offered to my dear friend.





It was billed as the "2 Friends Tour".  Michael W Smith and Amy Grant played together in the 80s when "Smitty" was the relatively unknown musical director/pianist for a young, rising star in Christian/contemporary music. They collaborated on several songs, but their careers and life choices caused a gradual, unintended separation.

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
I can't believe the hopes He's granted
Means a chapter of your life is through

The evidence of true friendship is that it never ends. It is an invisible connection that endures all things and can be picked up right where it left off,  regardless of the number of intervening years.

But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong


The lasting nature of Michael and Amy's friendship was revealed in one beautiful moment Thursday night.  Amy was introducing a song Michael had written about the struggle he felt sending his daughter off to college.  Amy connected with that struggle, and spoke about how difficult it was to sing with the raging emotions in a mother's heart.  Michael said softly, "I've got your back."  Amy stopped, and in a moment of heartfelt realization, turned to him and said, "You always have."

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends

It was not a coincidence that at that moment, in the Benedum Theater, I was standing next to my dear friend for the past 20 years.  This was the first concert we had attended together, and will be the last we have opportunity for in western PA. In a few months, after 27 years in exile, my Dear Professor and I are packing up and moving back to our country of origin, Texas.

And with the faith and love God's given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you live in
Is the strength that now you show

If ever there was one (other than my Dear Professor) who has "had my back" these long years of exile in a strange place, it has been my dear friend.

We'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

I pray that she can say the same. All I know is that her friendship, her modeling of Jesus, her wise counsel, and her wicked sense of humor have been a place of safety for my heart.  In being who she is,  she has given me a living, breathing picture of true friendship.  The kind that Jesus speaks of.

The "laying down your life for the other" kind.

Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends

Though miles will now separate us, our hearts remain connected through our shared love of music, our awe of the One who is our true friend,


and the memory of standing arm in arm, singing with Michael and Amy and the others in attendance,

"No a lifetime's not too long to live as friends"* 

(*Friends are Friends Forever, by Michael W Smith)

My counting with the Community of One Thousand Gifts:
190. my dear friend
191. 20 years of sharing a brain
192. radio station giveaway
193. perseverance
194. a charged cell phone
195. acting on impulse
196. an answered question
197. shared experiences
198. memories evoked by music
199. difficulties that forge bonds
200. laughter
201. joy
202. time together
203. a beautiful theatre
204. beautiful music
205. a testimony of real friendship
206. worshipping together
207. the child sitting next to me singing "Mighty to Save" with great gusto
208. a successful, talented man who is compassionate and humble
209. green rooms
210. generosity
211. finding my way to Pittsburgh and back without getting seriously lost
212. an offering of talent back to its Creator in praise
213. agape