dear mrs. martin – SOLC Tuesday

Dear Mrs. Martin,

Thank you for keeping our children when they were little.

At the time, my husband and I both needed to work, not for extras, but for necessities.  So you provided arms of love for them during the day.  What a gift.

I have thought of you often recently. Our granddaughter has wonderful teachers at her preschool. Like you did with our two, these caregivers have a profound influence on her young mind and heart.  Seeing this has reminded me how grateful I still am for you.

Our daughter has begun potty training with our granddaughter. Both my husband and I have few memories of this adventure with our children, probably because it was you who bore the brunt of that experience. Again, we are so very thankful for ALL that you meant to our family, in so many ways.

How many babies did you rock?  How many diapers did you change? How many children did you feed, and put down for naps, and read to, and love on? Only God knows for sure, but we were so blessed that our children were among the many little ones that you touched. And you blessed our grownup hearts as well.

We all knew you were a saint on earth, and for several years now you have been in heaven among God’s angels.  I know that He has you standing ready, to be the first to hold and rock those sweet souls that leave this world too soon. I know you give them all the love you gave our children here on earth.

And once again I thank you for your loving care.

Love, JeNan

stars – SOLC Tuesday

We have one grandchild, little Madison, who holds our hearts in her sweet smile, her cheerful giggles, her clever way of analyzing things, and her precious hugs and kisses.

I was never one to long for grandchildren. Others would speak of theirs and I would think, “That’s nice,” but honestly I never wished for one of our own. I always thought they would come, in time.

And then came Madison. She is my world these days. I can’t seem to get enough of this precious child.

I am so silly over her that I have wondered if I could ever love another child as much as I do her. But both of our children let us know they would like to have a new baby. And so I wondered… how would that be?

One night at dinner our son and daughter-in-law shared the wonderful news that they were expecting. The timing took us by surprise – but we were so thrilled and thankful. I cannot wait!

Truth be told, on our way home, I did think about sharing my love for Madison with another grandchild. But now, that didn’t seem to be a problem anymore. I know how love multiplies when there are new hearts to love.

And just to solidify that way of thinking, I happened to look up at the sky when we got home. There were so many bright stars, each as brilliant as beautiful as the others.

Each one special, all of them unique.  Just like our grandchildren will all be!

Soon we learned that our daughter is expecting, too. Madison will be a big sister. And we will have two new little ones to dote on in November.

But Madison need not worry. I know that we have plenty of love to go around.

And so much to be thankful for!

clean and fresh – SOLC Tuesday

It has been as hot as blue blazes in our neck of the woods lately. Simmering, sultry days and thick-aired, breezeless nights. So last week when the city came and cleaned out the fire hydrants, it drew a crowd.

Young children were splashing through the puddles. Dogs on leashes were barking to be free and join in the fun. The sun sparkled through the arc of water and added some serendipity to an otherwise heat-oppressed day.

The air felt lighter afterwards.  It made for a good day.

Still, I had to question why this needs to be done – but I know that things can get out of good working order when they are not often used. I suppose that, in the hydrant, rust can gather, and sediments can collect, and the water can get stale and musty. And it is important to know that the hydrant will work well when it is needed. Plus the unexpected exuberance it brought was a real treat.

Knowing this makes me wonder about myself. What kinds of cleaning out does my heart need?

Am I “rusty” in the area of thinking of others? Do I have “sediments” of envy or laziness weighing me down? Is my outlook on the joyful everydayness of life becoming “stale and musty”? I want to be a person others can count on to “work well” when they need me. And I think that the shedding of some of these bad habits would add some deep-seated cheerfulness to my soul.

I am asking God to help me lighten the load I tend to carry around with me, which often accumulates without me even thinking about or acknowledging it. This will bring some freshness and cleanliness into my life, and paying it forward, into the lives of others.

I will feel lighter afterwards. It will make for some very good days.

progress…

The town where I live is no longer the small town it once was.

Each May the Rotary sponsors the Franklin Rodeo, complete with a parade through town the week before, and a weekend filled with rodeo performances. It is well attended and lots of fun.

Currently it takes place in the Ag Expo Center, a large indoor arena. It began in a local outdoor park, subject to the weather and limited parking, but those things are no longer concerns. Progress…

Our picturesque downtown streets no longer have empty storefronts and pool halls. The Main Street Program helped spruce up the area so local businesses could set up shop and flourish.

Currently the place is so popular that rents are being raised and the smaller shops are being replaced by national chains and bigger interests. Again, progress…

This sweet picture shows a horse taking up a car parking space, and a local business that couldn’t compete with the higher costs. A view of how things once were in our city.

There is justification for most of these changes. But I wonder, where will all this progress lead us in years to come.

 

my friend – SOLC Tuesday

My mother’s sister – my Aunt Rosie – came for a visit this week.

This is a big deal!

Aunt Rosie is 93 years old. She drove herself, all by herself, from her home two hours away.  She has heart issues, which seem to have abated at this current time, and she is still saddened by the death of her husband of 74 years last May.

But she took the time to come and see our family! 

She was determined to do so, once she was feeling better, and she timed it to spend the day with our granddaughter, whom I keep on Mondays. Plus our children were able to come for dinner all together last night. What a special time!

Each second was a time to treasure!

My favorite moment was this: when our granddaughter Madison was a little intimidated by the neighbor’s son, she wanted me to hold her. Then she looked down at Jack, and then pointed to Aunt Rosie and said, “This is my friend Rosie.” (Dis is mah fwend Wohsi.)

Aunt Rosie is so special!

Madison’s middle name is Rosalie, after our sweet aunt. They had fun together all day long, taking walks outside and working puzzles. Coloring and watching Paw Patrol. And Madison wanted to share her friend.

We are all so thankful for Aunt Rosie, and the love she shares with us!

 

privet season

When thoughts begin to turn to spring and eyes keep a sharp lookout for anything newly green, the lowly privet shrub/tree/hedge/bush comes to mind.

This “native plant” grows low to the ground, and sprouts its leaves long before most trees. By this time of year, their green is seldom noticed. It becomes “filler” between and among the larger, showier trees that tower above it. But its first impression is a good one, making faces smile and hearts sing for the return of spring.

That is privet season #1.

Now we are fully into spring, a warm one that came early and has given us quite a few glimpses of summer with some very warm days.

Last weekend as my husband and I walked we noticed a strong sweet smell. At first we thought it was the honeysuckle we passed, but we traced it to some large bushes with white flowers. We did not know what it was but it definitely made an impression.

As I walked this week with a friend we passed similar bushes on our route. She did not know what they were either, but there were so many of them we were almost overcome with their aroma.  Later that day I stopped at the local farmers Co-op, and when I described what we had seen and smelled, I was told it was “probably privet hedge. It grows everywhere and it is hard to get rid of.”

So I did my online research and sure enough, I have to agree that it is Chinese privet, not truly “native” after all but very invasive. Steve Bender, Southern Living‘s Grumpy Gardner, described it as having a “cloyingly sweet smell that many people find somewhat sickening.” I suppose that would be true if you were surrounded by it, but a little of the scent is very nice.

What was once sold as a shrub for your yard has now become very prevalent, thanks to birds “passing along” the berries produced through the flowers. So privet is considered a nuisance. True, it does have the ability to spread and choke out other plants. Its pollen is a challenge for allergy sufferers. Plus it has few pests and grows extremely fast, meaning it must be trimmed often to keep it in line.

I have always recognized privet, but how could I have missed its flowering season all these years? Maybe the warm spring has made them bloom excessively this year. It is possible that I just thought it was honeysuckle. Maybe the ones along my frequent pathways are just now maturing and able to flower. Or it could be that they usually bloom in much warmer weather when I would not be walking outside so often.

Whatever the reason I am glad to learn something new, and I am happy to have another one of nature’s plants to appreciate.

So this is privet season #2.

economy – SOLC Tuesday

The current trend of minimalism speaks to me.

(Not that you could tell that when you walk in my house.)

But I love this idea. Of making do with less. Of keeping only the things that make you happy. Of emptying closets and drawers so that whatever you are looking for – and only what you need – pops into view whenever you open that space and look inside.

When I retired I spent my last year of work going though our house room by room in the evenings and eliminating the excess. But things creep in. I need to do this again now. A little decluttering along the way helps.

The hard part is knowing what to do with family heirlooms. It is easy to pass along my children’s things to them (and let them decide what to keep).  The hard part is what to do with things from the past. What offers no connections to today? What is essential to knowing who you really are? What is truly valuable?

My mother was a hoarder. We didn’t know that term back then or recognize it as an illness, but that doesn’t make it less true. (It was just at the end of her life, and I have to add that she was the best Mama I could have ever had otherwise.) Dealing with that definitely influences my choices for what to keep these days.

So, I am working on sorting, and finding peace in what I choose to keep.

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But… I must also say… there is a certain comfort in spaces that echo the years that been have lived in them.

Walking into a room that has the same look as it always has, that holds pictures from the past in spots reserved only for them, that welcomes you for who you have always been as well as who you are becoming – there is a lot of joy here, too. And so many cherished memories to hold on to tightly – and gently, with great care.

The Big House is a book that describes a family property that exemplified this very thing – the security in sameness through the years. Being there gave the author a sense of time standing still. And, sometimes, there can be great comfort in that.

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Economy can be partially defined as “a social domain that emphasizes the … material expressions associated with the … management of resources.”

So the challenge is to be a good manager of resources.   To get rid of burdensome stuff, and treasure the gifts from life experiences that hold meaning and joy.

What a responsibility!  And what an honor –  to hold so much in our hands.