Month: August 2013

Grace and Discipline

This past week, all around me, young mom’s and dads were busy getting their kids back to school. At work, they talked in small groups about new teachers, school supplies, and bus schedules. Every year this energy brings back memories of when I too was mired in the hustle and bustle.

Kelly back row 7th from right
Daniel front row 1st on left
Every fall, I dreaded the first day of school. Ever conscious of the limited time of my children’s youth, the new school year was like a big bell saying, “Ding, ding, ding… another year has gone by.”
I love being a mom. From the moment I laid eyes on my kids, I was stunned by how much I could love another person.
But with that love came the overwhelming responsibility for things like their character. I
hated it when I had to discipline them. It seemed they’d never remember to brush their teeth, chew with their mouth closed, or pick their clothes up off the floor.Often times, trying to stay on top of all those details took the fun right out of parenting.

Then came the world of grand parenting.

A world where I could ignore the small indiscretions. If I overlooked a table manner or a bad word here and there, so be it. Let the parents sort it out. After all, they’re the ones responsible for how they turn out.

Don’t get me wrong, I care, but it’s not my burden. I’m free to pick and choose when to apply discipline and when to apply grace. And I relish in that freedom.

Being a parent helped me better understand the discipline I receive from a loving God. My own pain in nurturing my children helped me see the pain I caused God by my disobedience. It helped me understand how God nurtures me in order to protect me and help me grow.

But until I became a grandparent I struggled with understanding the grace of a loving God. How could He turn a seemingly blind eye to the ugliness of my sin?

How could He lavish me with all the wealth of His glory when I continually committed the same blunders over and over? How could He spoil me with the abundance of His kingdom? Or hold back on the discipline I really deserved.

I marvel at how God is constantly applying the grace and discipline I need in order to mold me and draw me closer to Him.

I want to continue to shower all my grandchildren in an abundance of grace.  I promise their mom’s and dad’s I will discipline when danger is involved.  But who is better than a grandparent to model grace? And in doing that I hope to point them to a God whose greatest desire is to give nothing but good gifts to His Children.


Like it or Not, You’re Writing Your Story

This old steamer trunk has been kicking around my home for years. In the 50’s and 60’s, it carried the belongings of my grandparents as they traveled around the world on special assignment with the State Department. Today, it’s filled with old letters and pictures of my ancestors. Each face representing a story.
One of my favorites is Cattie Johnson. My grandfather’s mother. Her story is compelling. As a young girl, she walked from Oklahoma to Texas behind a covered wagon.
Also in the trunk is this letter, written by John Morgan Rice. It says:
“Compliments of J M Rice to To Miss Cattie Johnson and will be pleased to accompany her to Prayer Meeting tonight at the Baptist Church, if agreeable. Yours Respect. Moody, Jan – 1-30-1887.”
Some time later Cattie married John Morgan…
and down the line came my Grandfather, Morgan Hampton…
then my mother Josephine…
then me…
I love to tell my children and grandchildren about Cattie. I want them to know about her strong pioneer spirit. How it lives in me, and in them too.
Regardless of whether we realize it, we are all writing our story. Every decision we make, every path we choose, every word we speak, has the potential to be the story our future generations tell about us.
In the last five years, I’ve lost just about everything. My life savings, my home, and my husband of 38 years. Then last week, I stood on the grass as the grandchildren who – for the past 14 years – have lived right around the corner, left for the 500 mile move away from me.
My first inclination was to rage against the God who controls the universe. In my inability to see Him as a loving God, I wanted to blame Him for my loss. But instead I’m choosing a different path. I’m writing a different story.
Instead of despair, I’m peering around the bend anticipating what God has in store for me. I’m clinging to His promise to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” I’m choosing to believe He is enough to not just carry me, but to elevate me above my loss.
One day I hope my great grandchildren discover this trunk of old pictures.

And when they do, I hope they stumble upon Cattie, Morgan, Josephine, and me. As the stories unfold,  I want mine to be about a woman whose faith stood the test of time. Who despite her struggles, held firm to the truth that God’s grace, was indeed, enough for her. For this is the story I want to choose to write for the rest of my life.

My Deck of a Day

They came early in the morning. Daniel and Heather first with their family in tow. They unloaded tools and got right to work. Shortly after, Kelly and Dan came with their three kids. Before I could blink, my back yard was in the process of a major transformation.

We can’t help ourselves. It’s what we do, we build stuff. It’s in my children’s blood. They
grew up in the sawdust of their father’s latest project. They have no memory of a time when he wasn’t building something. They learned it all in his shadow. He loved having them by his side.

We all have a fondness for the smell of lumber. The whine of power tools connects the dots of fond memories. To us, a new project is more exciting than Christmas.

It’s the one thing Tim and I did best – we taught our children to work together. That a family is a team. And by combining our strength, we could do big things.

So that day, I stood by in awe at the talent of my children. I watched new father’s introduce my grandchildren to the same things. I saw mother’s encouraging their sons and daughters to work hard. I saw my family once again, accomplish a big thing. I call it my “deck of a day.”

For in less than eight hours, they had transformed a space of nothing…

into my little bit of paradise…

They made an unusable area a place where I can garden.

But most of all, they did this mama’s heart good. By working together and using the skills learned as children, they trained the next generation to to be good craftsmen of the gifts God gave them.

So in the early mornings hours, when I sit on my deck and read, I’ll soak in the memories of my “deck of a day.” I’ll work hard at counting my Godly blessings, while pushing aside those that add no value to my life. One of those will be the knowledge that no matter where my children are, they carry with them this legacy. It was born from their earliest childhoods, and I’m sure they’ll pass it on.


The Simplest Things

My friend posted a picture of her husband on facebook. An insignificant picture. He’s standing, looking off in the distance, in what looks like a driveway. She wrote underneath “Oh to be in that moment again.” He died a few months ago. I share in her grief. I understand what she means. You long for the return of the simplest things.
It’s a message passed down through the ages. “Life is short, cherish it.” Few of us fully grasp it’s meaning until many of our moments are gone.
Time is a thief. It steals from us when we’re not looking. It takes work to not let it happen. We must be intentional in how we live our lives.

I cherish this memory. On many a vacation, Tim was up first. On this one he gathered the grandkids. Rigged up their fishing poles. And shared his passion and wisdom for gathering food. I got to glimpse it. I ran back in the tent for my camera. The fullness of the memory, the moist air, the cool breeze, the quiet chatter, all are embedded deep in my heart.

I long for eternity. The promised restoration of the life God intended us to live. The life that Jesus bought for us on the cross. The chance to reunite with those we love.
Oh for the opportunity to never again miss a moment. For time will no longer be able to rob us of anything.