Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Am a Condor

My husband just got back from Peru, where he was privileged to see condors flying around in a very deep canyon. He was thrilled to see this endangered species and took some great pictures.

I feel like just such an endangered species. Or even a dinosaur, which is extinct! I decided to share a part of my life that will shock most people. When asked about favorite movies on the profile section, I mentioned that I am not a movie buff and have very particular requirements for which movies I see. The truth of the matter is: I'VE ONLY BEEN TO ONE MOVIE IN A THEATER IN MY LIFE. And that was only a few months ago. It was The End of the Spear. It was the story of the 5 missionaries who were martyred in Ecuador in the 1950s. My brother had a big part in the production of the movie and I broke my life long rule and went to see it.

God did not strike me dead. But I don't think I'll be going back any time soon. I was raised in a denomination, to which I still belong, which frowned on movies and other "worldly" entertainment. It didn't bother me much to not go to movies. It still doesn't. I now have the option of renting any movie, if I just wait awhile. That's fine with me. I rent very few.

I didn't even go to The Passion of the Christ - I babysat so others could go. I thought it was a great thing that Mel Gibson made such a movie and it was so well attended. I would hope that it had long-lasting ramifications.

When I did go to the theater for the above-mentioned movie, I decided it was a terrible waste of money and time. I would never buy the overpriced snacks there. I would just as soon watch it on a smaller screen eventually and have my own popcorn and pop. Add to the fact that I usually fall asleep in the middle of any movie, I really do need the option of rewinding!

Call me weird, call me old-fashioned, call me out of touch. I can live just fine without movies in the theater - and most movies on video or dvd!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wednesday Musings

The high achiever is at West Point and has begun his new adventure. The West Point web site posted several hundred pictures of the new cadets yesterday after their first day. Nephew is #187 at this site:

It is one of my full days with Care Bear, Fiesty, and Anakin. It is hard to think coherent thoughts and/or accomplish anything on these days - that is, anything except being with them, which of course is the point! Baths are done, everyone's braids are combed (Fiesty's aren't braids, but that's what she calls her piggy tails because she likes to be Anakin is finally up and dressed (early teen sleeping habits at 8!) Fiesty likes to help me type, so that makes it more difficult. I'm having to stop every few seconds to smell Strawberry Shortcake's hair or feet.

As Care Bear was taking her bath today, I discovered that she calls all of her body parts "she." For instance, getting water in her ears when we wash hair isn't good, because she (the ear) doesn't like that. When she was brushing her teeth and I was combing her hair, we were talking about our family reunion next week. She poked me in the tummy with her elbow and then explained that "she" (elbow) did that because she was so excited about the trip.

Another thought on the trip - put us on your prayer list! We're going to be breaking the new mini van in big time with DC, me, Mamma (from so called life), Care Bear, Fiesty, and Anakin for 800 miles. Should be quite the adventure! There are great fun times ahead with all sorts of second cousins or cousins once removed or something like that.

Gotta go - Anakin needs his very late breakfast.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

High Achiever

My youngest brother has 3 sons. All of them are miracles since they were not supposed to be able to have children. The eldest graduated from high school this past month and is on to bigger and better things.

This child has been special from the beginning. He was praying for my prodigal when he was in elementary school, and keeping a journal about his prayer life. His mother shared it with me at a very vulnerable time in our lives.

This young man decided as early as 7th grade that he wanted to go to West Point. He began corresponding with the cadets and building his resume based on what they told him he needed to do. He began working on his physical body; he got into student government and became class president for several years; he has a close relationship to God; he is a leader in every aspect of his life.

He went through the process of application - multiple thousands of applicants for the 1200 who eventually are accepted. Tomorrow is the beginning of this new adventure.

His mom and dad are having quite a struggle, now that the actual day is here. They have enjoyed this boy turned man for 18 years. They've never wondered where he was, what he was doing, when he was going to come in at night, what condition he would be in. He is the opposite of a prodigal.

My brother said that through all of this process of preparation for the cadet's entrance to his new life, there is much said of the young peoples' adjustment process. There was nothing available to help the parents in their adjustment. It made me stop to think of how many resources there are out there for those of us dealing with prodigals. There is seemingly nothing written for those who are launching a star who is ready to take on the world with a smile on his face and a spring in his step.

It made me think of the day my mom and dad took me to college. I was the eldest and had never caused my parents any trouble. I had looked forward to this day of college for at least 3 years and had been counting the days. That Sunday afternoon I had already made many new friends on my dorm floor and was having a blast. As my folks prepared to leave me there and go home, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I should walk with them to the car!! I was totally insensitive to their feelings of leaving their firstborn behind. I suddenly realized that my mom was crying.

My brother says he has a book percolating in his mind to address this gaping hole in the literary world. Does anyone know of such a book out there already?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Perspective is Everything

Last night I was visiting at my mom and dad's house, because mom's cousin and husband came from Minnesota for a visit - it's been 40 years since they were here last. That doesn't even seem possible. My mom was an only child for a long time before her only sibling was born - a little sister. Then she began to have cousins, who were much younger than she - peers of her sister and even of myself. I had great fun with her cousins when we had family get-togethers. She was more like an aunt to them. Even then, I always considered Gail (the visiting cousin) to be a lot older than I. Yesterday I realized that she was only 7 years old when I was born. My mom was truly a child bride and had 3 kids in 3 years, starting 13 months after they were married. So - all of a sudden I am a peer of this person I always thought of as older! Perspective.

I saw a note on my fridge this morning that has hung there since 1996 with a quote from my recently returned prodigal (the one we had the cyber celebration for only a week ago!). It says "I hate this town. I will never love this town." I had him sign and date it and it's been hanging there now for 10 years. After being gone for 18 months with Teen Challenge, he almost kissed the tarmac when he got off the plane last week. Somehow this town looks pretty good to him now! Perspective.

I didn't start working full time until my son was in 8th grade. I began my current job when I was 45. Since I work for the state, my retirement is such that I can get a fairly decent amount if I work 20 years. I have had it in my mind that I have 7 more years to work. Recently we met with a financial planner who informed me that I could conceivably retire with my husband in 2 years. Do you know what that did to me?? Suddenly I am developing a short-timer's mentality. I have been thinking 7 years out. I don't know if I really will quit that soon, but it's an option at least. Perspective!

On another note, a visitor to my post yesterday said she enjoyed my wonder years stories. I like that - I did have a great childhood. I hope nobody minds if I indulge in those wonderful memories occasionally in this format.

Have a great week-end everyone! It's been fun in blogland for me this first week of this adventure.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pleasant Memories and Other Things

I tried to watch Beth today, but it was one of my full Grandma days. It's almost impossible to accomplish anything on the computer with Fiesty in my lap, which is where she wants to be when I'm at the computer! I did watch the first few minutes and will attempt to finish yet tonight after choir practice.

The words she spoke in the short time I was with her were right on target with our many discussions about prodigals. She said that agape love caused his father to let the prodigal go, and agape love let him come back into his heart, not just his home. So true!

My new cyberspace acquaintance with Diane from Arkansas has sent me back there in my mind in a big way. I spent 6 very formative years there in the small town of Heber Springs. As I mentioned before, Mom and Dad were involved in Child Evangelism and that meant going out into the countryside to schools full of very poor children, helping them earn their way to camp by learning scripture. They then took a pastorate, where we spent 5 years. We had no money, but we had lots of fun and lots of love.

My mom was in charge of the "junior society" every Sunday night at church. She spent lots of time reading to us from a series of books called The Sugar Creek Gang. Many of you are way too young to remember these books, but we thought we were them - we had a "crick" down the way and we were down there a lot of the time pretending we were the gang.

We had neighbors down the hill from us who had a passle of kids in a very tiny little shack. Shelby Dean was my friend and she desperately wanted to take piano lessons. She'd come to my house and I'd teach her a lesson (I was in about 4th or 5th grade). Then she'd go home and try to practice on her kitchen table. I wonder what ever happened to Shelby Dean Hackworth.

I was always starting a club and was the self-appointed president of each. I did actually get elected as president of the 4th grade club, however. I used to think I was going to be in congress when I grew up. Just think, I'd be in the same peer group with that other famous Arkansas female politician (and I'll refrain from any political comments)! We moved back to Minnesota in the middle of 5th grade - just before the Christmas program that I was so looking forward to. That was quite a shock. Even though I had been a Minnesotan prior to Arkansas, we went to the farthest northern city of International Falls and the culture shock was tremendous for this little Arkie.

I mentioned singing with my dad last Sunday on Father's Day. We have sung together quite a few times in the last two years since he and mom retired in my town (he pastored here years ago and in fact built the sanctuary we have worshiped in for 33 years). This time when I made copies big enough for our mature eyes to see, I didn't notice that I had cut off the top notes (mine), until we got up to sing! This was a new song to me, so it wasn't like I had the notes down pat without seeing them. God really helped me - I was able to pull it off. That was a horrible feeling - something akin to The Emperor's New Clothes!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I haven't really gotten into the rhythm of thinking in terms of blogging yet. The rest of you seem to do it so easily. It is one of the reasons I resisted starting. There is so much I could say about the last years of our lives with our prodigal, but I'm not sure how much to share. I'll be thinking about it, praying about it, and asking my son if he cares.

I was named Call me Grandma Dawn by my daughter, who writes beautifully is Mama's So-Called Life. I always knew she was a good writer, but I am amazed every day by her descriptions - and also those of her cousins. My entire identity is not as a grandma, but it certainly has added a new dimension to my life.

I spend half of my time here at my desk at the same large university where she works. We live close together, so the switch-off with the kids works well. She meets me at noon on Tuesday and goes to work, when I take the kids home. Many times Care Bear wants to run around campus and eat at the restaurant with the Star (Carl's Junior), see the piano in the student center, run down the hill behind the student center, go see the fountain outside the Engineering Building. She loves routine and always wants to repeat everything in just the order she did it before.

For instance, on Fridays we go to the library for story time. Then we have to get a few books and videos. One day I took them to KFC on the way home - now it's a routine she wants to repeat every Friday. She discovered the Dairy Queen next door to KFC as she was eating one Friday (well, eating is a pretty broad term for what she does - she mostly doesn't eat!), so we had to add a kiddie cone to the routine. She's a character!

Then there's Fiesty who has a 7-year-old boyfriend (she's 2). Of course, she's oblivious to the devotion this little guy has for her. His mom is one of the church babysitters and she is absolutely crazy about the girls. Her only son looked at Fiesty one day and said, "You're the only girl for me, Fiesty (well, he used her real name!). One day his dad said, "She's so young, Will, she's just a baby." He said, "She'll get older!" The other day his mom reminded him that Fiesty will want to have a say in whether or not they get married someday. He said, "Well, mom, I have the latest Play Station, I have all the Veggie Tales videos, and I've asked Jesus into my heart - what more could she want?" Yes, indeed, what more could she want?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Music and Me

There are no bells and whistles on this site yet - maybe someone will help me with that one of these days. But I wanted to get some thoughts down before I head for bed, because I know if I don't, I'll have to get up and do it later.

We just returned from a glorious evening in the foothills of the Rockies as 800 or so people who love the Lord gathered to sing hymns for approximately two hours. This is the third annual such gathering. It was begun by the choir director at our church, who also happens to be the president of a small family-owned company which makes lawn mowers. He loves the hymns of the church and had a dream of gathering others who do the same to just spend an evening glorifying God in this old-fashioned way. The company has a beautiful lawn (as it should since they make lawn mowers!), so we have met there for the last 3 years.

As I sat there singing these songs tonight, I realized that I know the words to almost every verse of every one - and we sang 24 songs, I believe. My thoughts went back to why music is so important in my life. I went back to when I was 5 years old and we lived in a little town in Arkansas. My brother, sister, and I would go into the hills to little country schools of very poor children with my folks, who were involved in Child Evangelism at the time. My siblings and I were 3, 4, and 5, and we would sing for them. When I was 7, I began piano lessons because our church was so small we didn't have a pianist. At age 8, I was playing for church, my little legs unable to reach the pedals - which was fine, since I didn't know how to use them anyway! Dad would pick out the songs and they would be part of my piano lesson each week.

As teens, my brother led a youth choir in our church and we would go out into small churches in Nebraska and sing - we weren't professional, but we sure had fun! I started playing the organ for church when I was 15 and have not been off of that bench since. When my kids were young, they didn't have anyone doing children's musicals, so I decided maybe I could do that for a couple of years, which turned into 5-6. What a lot of work and what a reward when it went well!

We still have a choir at our church, which my husband (who I will call DC henceforth) and I sing in and enjoy very much. Tomorrow my dad and I will sing a duet - he's 80. It's cool that it's Father's Day.

So tonight, all of that was going through my mind as I was praising God with my alto voice and thrilling to the words of those great hymns of the faith. So many of them have ministered to me as we have gone through the trials of our lives. Thank God for music!

Friday, June 16, 2006

I have entered blogland with fear and trembling. Feisty is sitting on my lap and Care Bear is here too. I don't have time to think or write, but just wanted you all to know that Kristen has launched me. There have been so many great messages in the last two days that I feel I need to do some explanations. I will do that as time goes on. I just wanted you to know I'm here. Just Call Me Grandma Dawn!