Saturday, January 24, 2015

I love You Papa

My pastor is over in Cambodia, so our asst pastor preached on Wed night.

He shared how, throughout the day, his little 4 yr old granddaughter would come and find him, just to say "I love you Poppa." 

It really made his day.

And an arrow shot right into my heart.

Quietly, the question was asked, "How often do you do that?"

And with my head hanging low, I said, "Sorry Papa."

Because I knew that the answer was "Not very often."

How is that possible?

Here my Papa had given me everything - including eternal life in a kingdom where the streets are made of gold.


And I blithely slither on my way, never taking the time to tell Him how much I love Him.

It's not as tho I don't talk to Him - every day I'm in the Word and learning and treasuring His often repeated sentiments of love and caring.  Yet seldom do I think of telling Him what's in my heart.

Since Wednesday I am trying to remember that little thing that means a lot.  I asked the Holy Spirit to remind me about it.

And what an amazing change it's made in my day-to-day doings. 

He is the reason for the season - in whatever season I am in at the moment.  We box that phrase up with the Christmas decorations and feel so righteous when we say it in December.  But He is the reason all year long, not for some misaligned date we've chosen and said, "Here You go, Lord.  This is when You were born." 

I don't know about you, but I didn't even say Happy Birthday on the 25th of Dec. 

Did you?

We talked the talk.  Where did the walk go?

Of course, it wasn't His birthday.  But where does it say we can't tell Him "I love You" because it's not Dec 25th?

And where did all the "Peace on earth, good will to men," and  "hosanna in the highest" go to? 

I want to unpack all those Christmas boxes and praise Him with love every day.  I don't want my heart to get packed away with those boxes and forget He is the reason for my heart beating.  I want Him to hear it, many times a day, from my heart remembering and being grateful and thanking Him for the roof over my head and the pillow I put said head down on to rest.

How hard is it to say those three words, anyway?

We know how it makes a difference in our own lives - how nice it is to hear, even a hurried "love you," as someone goes out the door on an errand.

How much more it must mean to the One Who died for the air we breathe and the food we put in our mouths( after a hurried "thanks for the chow" prayer that can quickly get so routine we don't even hear ourselves say it anymore.)

And all this after I chose "love:" for my one word this year.

Already it's an abysmal failure.

So, Papa, just for the books, I. Love. You.

Forever and and ever and ever and ever.


Thursday, January 1, 2015


The first day of the year.

Always a time for pondering.

What will this year hold?  Good or evil? Pain or joy?  Life or death?

I have reached an age where, even more than the usual, every day is a gift I dare not count on.  I have buried every immediate family member but one - out of the 7 that made my original family circle.

I am the child of 2nd generation immigrants.

My grandparents on both sides immigrated at the turn of the last century.

Their speech was thick with the accents of "the old country."  They spoke of it often - I can hear them still.  The lilt of Swedish is so musical, falling gently on the ears and alive with memories of growing up .

My paternal grandparents lived with us from the time of my 3rd year.  My grandfather was 6 feet tall, and our first meeting began with him snatching me up and tossing me in the air.

To say I was terrified would be an understatement.

I can still see through my 3 yr old eyes, can still feel like I was 20 stories up - and being thrown higher - by a stranger. And one who talked funny at that! Yikes!

Of course, we made friends.  I was only to know him for 2 more years before a stroke stole him away.  but I remember him well, and with affection.

He was a painter.

He painted houses to make ends meet.  And he painted his heart to keep his memories alive.  For my grandfather was a whaler.

This was back when the whales had a chance, and a whale run was 50/50 - the men were at as much of a risk of dying as the whales.

He sailed on windjammers - the many-sailed boats with 2 or 3 masts fitted with 3 large square sails.  Most of their down time was spent repairing said sails.  Or the nets used to catch fresh fish for food.  To the end of his life, his best times were on a charter, doing deep sea fishing and hopefully returning with a gargantuan tuna to feed us for a week.

He would clean the fish, which became my job as I grew up.  I loved to watch him, loved the process from start to finish - first the scaling.  Only when the skin was super smooth did he remove the head just below the gills, remove the tail - and here's where it got really interesting - slit the belly and remove the guts.  I remember asking him "what's that?" over and over - patiently he would point out the liver, the air sacs, the intestines, and, if we were lucky, the roe - the eggs a female carried hidden in her body.  I think this is where I became interested in nursing - by being a 5 yr old fascinated with guts!

My grandmother, 11 years younger than he, was made of spun sugar - and molten steel.  She cooked the tuna as a roast, basting it with butter and love.

She was from Sweden, my grandfather from Norway - at a time when the two countries were not exactly friendly.  Mostly, sons grew up to farm, in both countries, and daughters grew up to be farmer's wives - or nurses. She had 3 sisters, and all grew up to be nurses.  she herself was in nurse training when she left Sweden to marry my grandfather.  Sadly, she never was able to finish her training - in those days, married women did not become nurses.

Her home life had been rough.  She was the Cinderella of her family, with no fairy godmother in sight.  She never figured out why her parents used her as a drudge, to do all the cleaning and cooking.  Part of her task was to make cookies for her 7 siblings - and she was not allowed to sample even one.

So, at the tender age of 16, she and my grandfather had saved enough money for her to join him in America.  She bade her family  far vell (good bye) and set sail on the sister ship to the Lusitania.  The ship would be sunk during WWI, as well as the more famous Lusitania.

She was, of course, in steerage - the below decks accommodations of many immigrants in that day. - small rooms were fitted with 2 bunkbeds, leaving scarcely enough room to move between the beds. When they hit rough seas, people were too sick to run for the primitive WCs, and would simply vomit over the side of their beds. My steely grandmother, not seasick but getting sick on the smell, had brought lemons with her to fight off scurvy.  She took one of her lemons with her to suck on, and snuck out to the deck as the ship tossed and dived with the rough sea swells.  Water would flood the lower decks and she wrapped an arm around the railing and held on - she thought the danger preferable to the smell of the unventilated steerage quarters.

Only she found, as she hung on literally for dear life, that the fancy patrons above her hung onto their rails - and vomited over the side, which the wind blew backward to fall on her and the steerage deck, making it slicker than the blasts of ocean water did.  Yet still, she clung on, sucking her lemon to help control the nausea of being doused repeatedly with vomit.

She said she didn't know how long she'd been there when a crew member noticed her below.  He ran down to her deck and told her she couldn't be there - it was too dangerous, he said, she could be washed overboard.  And while she knew what he said was true, she couldn't stand being shut up with all the vomit in steerage.

But the steward pulled her arm from the railing and forced her back inside.

And she endured.

Eventually her baby sister Judith and husband John, also came to America and settled nearby.

Sweden is big on elves and trolls and folklore.  The deep snow and dark winters leave plenty of time for storytelling while the work is being done. Perhaps they  missed it.

Because one year my uncle John made a little house.

To my 6 yr old eyes it was enchanting.

Log walls with snow on the roof, dainty lace curtains - and through them, hazily visible elves at work could be seen.  Light glowed from the windows, and you could see the elves at their chores - and one was warming his backside at the blazing fire in the fireplace.  It was enthralling.

My 2 brothers (a third would come when I was 9) and 6 boy cousins were all mesmerized, too, and it was rare for the little house to be unattended for any length of time.

I found a photo of it when I was grown up and was shocked to find the walls were corrugated cardboard and the snow was rolled cotton.

I was astonished.

As a child at Christmastime, it had been pure magic. And in my memories, it has lost none of its authenticity - and never shall.

My memories of my grandparents are among my most precious - I look at kids today and feel sad that children are so isolated from the older generations.  I think God designed the nuclear family as a gift - for a child to know how to communicate with older generations, hear stories at their knee, be cared for when the parents are busy elsewhere, know there are open arms to run to, and learn that death eventually claims us all.  It taught me to cherish memories - and thank the God that built me with memories to store and savor.

My grandparents, uncles and aunts, brothers and parents - all are still in my heart.  I expect most of us wish we had paid more attention to them, made more time to listen and visit and love.  I wish I had written down every word, to better remember their wisdom.

But I look at the world today, and I am filled with gratitude.  My King and Lord blessed me with a life surrounded by caring and love - which, I suppose, makes it easier to know the love of my Father in heaven.

So, thank You, Papa. I'm so grateful for the love and the accents and strong faith that is my inheritance - thank you for the parents you gave me, and for their parents - and for Your plan for my life.  Every good gift, and every perfect gift, comes down from the Father of Lights, in Whom is no changeableness or shadow from turning. (James 1:17)

Thank You, Lord, from the bottom of my heart.

Happy New Year

It has officially been 2015 for 2 1/2 hours here. the house is quiet, the neighbors have stopped setting off fireworks ( a tradition here) and the snow flurries have all but disappeared.

The weatherman was wrong, once again.

We'd been promised 3-5 inches but nothing but flurries arrived - and with it, a biting cold air that seemed to turn coats into crepe paper. 


We usually get snow about once every 5 years, and we're 2 years overdue.

Usually it's not an issue.  But this year, my nephew from California is living with us to go to school - and he has never, in all of his 21 years, seen it snow.  He's been in the snow before, but never while it was actually coming down, and he would love, just once, to see it.

So we will keep praying.

Meanwhile, I have been pondering my word for 2015.

Last year's  was "notice".  It kept my attention - here and there.  I must confess that certain periods of time were consumed by other avenues. 

This year I am praying my one word will be much more prevalent in my thoughts.

Because this year the word is "love"

And hopefully, it is of the agape variety.

I want to let my heart be a conduit for Jesus.  To notice the calculating stare of the person on the corner with the sign begging - and love him anyway.

To take the insults and demeaning comments and let them flow past me, not responding in kind.

To find ways to bless others with words, deeds and prayers.

To keep my heart and hands as open as I can manage. 

To make people feel loved - from my cat to anyone I bump into.

Yesterday, in the grocery store, several people went out of their way to offer assistance, as I was in the putt-putt the store offers to those of us with mobility issues.  One woman offered to help me reach something - out of the blue, because I wasn't even looking at anything - she just saw me and offered.  It left me feeling blessed and not handicapped.

And that's what I want to give others.  I want to be more aware of them and less of me.  I want to bless them.

I want my friends and family to feel loved and cared for and doted on.

When was the last time you doted on anyone?

I've been doting on my nephew today.  He and his friends gathered here tonight - which is a big relief, because here on the outskirts of Vegas, on New Year's Eve, the LVPD says that probably every other car is being driven by someone inebriated.  I really didn't want to think of him out there with his friends.  And so when he asked to have them here, it was a great relief.  Every one of the folks he hangs out with are kind, funny, good-hearted people.

I hope I made them feel welcomed and cared for - before I discreetly absented myself from their get-together. 

(And after I told them if there was no designated driver, they would be spending the night here.)  In capital letters I said, "NO ONE WHO IS EVEN SLIGHTLY IMPAIRED WILL LEAVE THIS HOUSE TONIGHT".

This is my nephew's first NYE of legal drinking age.  He bought some champagne to share with his friends.  He is a responsible guy, as are his friends. 

But sometimes, the law needs to be laid down, just in case.

And that brings me back to my word for the year.

Loving one another is, actually , the only new law that Jesus laid down.  Hopefully I've complied with it - but I know, to my great shame, I've never concentrated on it.

So I want to make 2015 the most loving year of my life heretofore.

In doing so, I want there to be less of me.

Less of me complaining.  Less of me getting irritated.  Totally less of me getting sarcastic, which happens in less than the blink of an eye, especially with store people and/or faulty merchandise.

So you can see why there needs to be less of me.  Cuz the me that's mostly in evidence is the sin-nature me.  And I want to boot her tush outta here.

And in her place,  perhaps, some shining little puddles of God's love flowing through me to bless and comfort  others.

So if anyone has taken the time to read alllll the way thru this entry : May God bless you with a knowledge of His loving kindness and delight in you this day. Not because you earned it, because you couldn't.  Not because you were "good" today because you weren't.

God loves you just because you are you.

The same way He loves me

Just imagine that!  It takes my breath away each time I think of it. The Creator and King of the entire universe actually loves us - He knows us by name, by DNA, by all those besetting sins we wish weren't part of us - He knows about each one - and loves us still.  And that love led Him to the cross - because He'd really rather die than live without us - sinful, surly, complaining ol' us.

And with His help this year (and hopefully every other year as well) I want to love you the exact same way.

Happy New Year!