Celebrating Milestones

Our family celebrated several milestones this week. Katrena turned nine years old and took her first dance class—ever.

Tap. Something she has wanted to learn since she saw Shirley Temple tap dancing in the movie Baby Take A Bow. It was a fitting birthday present.

Birthdays have always been celebrated in our family. I have wonderful memories of the special cakes my mother created with great enjoyment for her children and grandchildren. I remember cakes shaped like a butterfly, a doll, a giraffe, and even one in the shape of a piano. Now I‘m having a blast carrying on that birthday tradition. As soon as the children are old enough to have a preference, they choose a cake/party theme. We’ve had monster trucks, construction trucks, dolls, and castles. This week it was a unicorn.

Although my children and grandchildren focus on the cake, presents and playing games with cousins and friends, I want to mark it as a significant milestone. Another year completed. A wonderful time to acknowledge accomplishments and achievements and show them they are loved.

If they are having a “kids party” with a bunch of friends/classmates, I plan a separate event for family—those who have a positive impact on their life. We celebrate the beginning of a new year. New adventures, new privileges and new responsibilities.

Our family birthday celebrations are not only for the young, although it can be a little harder to get the adults into the young-at-heart mood.

This summer we celebrated my dad’s 87th birthday. When we sang to him before he blew out the candles, his smile was as big as the kids. It was an excellent opportunity to not only encourage my dad, but to teach our grandchildren that you are never too old to celebrate a milestone. Every year God grants us is precious and worth celebrating.

In Exodus, the Israelites built monuments of stone at the places where an important events or milestones occurred. These markers, sometimes a mere mound of stones, served as a reminder to teach their children about these important happenings. Our family is building monuments. Not of stone, but of memories. Memorialize with lots of pictures. I pray they serve as a lasting memorial to our children and grandchildren. A reminder as they begin the next year of life—you are loved.

How are you celebrating the milestones in your family?

My Prayer: Dear God, You show me how much You love me in so many ways. Help me find opportunities to show my family how much I treasure them everyday, not only on special milestones.

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Pure Joy

Head thrown back, face heavenward, Isaac shrieked in delight as he soared upward.
“I ‘winging, I ‘winging,” my grandson’s words filled the air.
His belly-laughs and squeals of delight drowned out the traffic rumbling past the park.
Soon his sister climbed on a nearby swing.    

A few minutes later a teenage girl joined the two.
Laughter, accompanied by high-pitched “wees,” became a cacophony of noise which was probably heard several blocks away.
“I can almost touch that cloud,” Katrena said. She stretched her legs and pointed her toes towards the sky.
The teenager caught the vision. “I’m going to touch the one shaped like cotton candy.”

It had been life as usual before this outing to the nearby park.
Dishes, laundry, picking up toys and paying bill created a lengthy “to do” list.
A simple run to the bank led us to the park.

“Only for a few minutes,” I warned before we got out of the car. I had only crossed a few tasks off my list. “I have so much to do at home.”

Their game caused me to look up. As my eyes followed their feet, I noticed for the first time billowing large, fluffy clouds.
Back-lit by the sun, they glistened snowy white, painted on a canvas of bright blue.
My spirits soared like the swings.
My heart lightened by the children’s pure joy.
I shared their game, finding clouds shaped like a bunny, a horse, an ice cream cone and a face.

Later that evening I joined my husband on the deck swing.
Our two little ones tucked into bed, asleep as soon as their heads made contact with their pillow.
Memories of the day brought back my smile as I shared the day’s events.
“I saw joy today,” I began. “Pure joy. And I almost missed it.”

How many times have I missed it? How often, in my quest to have the toys picked up, and the house clean, have I missed the simple joys in life? Why do put so much emphasis on tasks that mean very little in the scope of their lives? I know they will never look back with fond memories of how clean the bathroom was and how neat their toys were lined up. But they will remember the trips to the park and the times I spent playing with them.

That day did not stay sunny and full of joy. As a matter of fact, their giggles quickly changed to tears and whines when it was time to go home. The supper table received a lemonade bath and World War III broke out during bath time.

I am so glad I did not miss out on this bit of pure joy, the highlight of my day.

My prayer: Heaven Father, I have a habit of placing so much emphasis on accomplishing household tasks that I become too busy to enjoy my life. Thank you for bringing these dear little ones into my life. They are teaching me to experience and see pure joy, even in the daily grind of life.

I Found A Nugget on The Deadliest Catch

storm on the ocean

It’s surprising where God places nuggets of wisdom. I found one in a “mine” called The Deadliest Catch, a TV show I enjoy watching.

On this particular episode, the seas were extremely turbulent and the fishing perilous due to an epic Arctic storm. A rookie captain was struggling to keep the boat afloat amid the fifty foot swells when a hydraulic motor burned out. He wrestled with the decision of whether to try and fix the problem on the high seas or listen to his crew who wanted to pack up and head back to port.

A veteran captain who was serving as co-pilot gave the newbie a bit of advice. “Do not worry about what they want. Do worry about what they need.”

Sometimes, as I parent my grandchildren, I find myself in a situation much like that rookie captain. Thankfully, not everyday has an epic storm. Some have only a minor squall, and a few turn out to be gloriously sunny. However, much like the new captain, my role has changed. Although he was a veteran Arctic fisherman, he was functioning in a different capacity. Now all the decisions are on him. I am a veteran grandma and now I have to be the mom. The decisions and rule enforcement falls on me.

I struggle with this role because I want to be “fun grandma.” Not only do I want to s)mother them with love but I want to give them what they want-sugary cereal, extended bedtime, and less discipline-instead of what they need- healthy snacks, structure and consistent boundaries. Katrena has noticed the difference. She has shared her observation more than once. Usually it’s something like, “I remember when I came here on the weekends and you let me stay up late,” or “You used to let me have cookies and ice cream for snack.” Maybe that makes me more of a bad grandma than a fun grandma.

I thought of this fisherman’s words of wisdom when I read this verse in Philippians 4:19.  My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

It is a promise that God will meet our needs. Obviously, needs are more important than desires. If this is how God parents his children, I can trust this is the best way to raise my grandchildren. Hopefully, if I place my emphasis on meeting their needs, fulfilling their desires on special occasions will again feel like they have gone to grandma’s house.

My prayer: Father God, I am so thankful I can rely on You to meet all my needs. Help me keep focused on meeting Katrena and Isaac’s needs. Don’t allow me to be distracted by all their wants. Amen.

I’d love to hear from you: I never had the fun of staying overnight and being spoiled at either of my grandmas. Did you? If so, what favorite memories of visiting grandma do you have?