Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The first FIRST (is that appropriate?) would be the first anniversary of our very own Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Andrew Smith! No, I can NOT believe that it's been a year since they became husband and wife.
I guess my first mental image from their wedding day will forever be the picture of Meagan standing at the altar, eyes focused on her beloved, mouth open wide with joy as he recited his vows. Her own eyes literally sparkled during that portion of the ceremony.
Another favorite moment, of course was her dance with Daddy!
And I love the picture of Meagan dancing with Nathan's grandfather. (Mr. Smith, Sr. is a regular "high stepper.") That picture reflects a feel of generational blessing and abundant love shared. It also reminds me of answered prayers for my girls.
For this first anniversary, Meagan and Nathan were blessed with a great package get-away to the vacation capital of the world - Orlando. (Which is an hour away from here. But when you're on a second honeymoon, who cares where it is?!)
Happy First Anniversary, MegaNate!
The second FIRST for this week was Abigail Grace's very FIRST visit to Poppa and Nana's house for family dinner! I did manage to put a picture of that on facebook. Her little, tiny three-week-old self snuggled under Daddy's whiskered chin. So precious!
My classic chicken casserole failed me for the first time ever. (I added a package of onion soup mix for something different. Big Mistake!) So Spencer and Nana just ate extra watermelon to make up for it. Not sure what everyone else did.
We were all so tired from the past ten days that we just sat and watched a movie together. We took turns playing ball or reading books to Spencer; changing diapers; jiggling Abby; answering phone calls. Thankfully the plot for the movie wasn't very deep!
By some standards, Abby's first visit was uneventful. But that's the way we prefer it.
Our third FIRST was a sad one. Our dear friend, Ronnie Godwin went home to be with Jesus. This was our first funeral for a founding member of the church. Nearly one-third of our congregation was either related to Ronnie, had attended church with Ronnie over twenty years, or had worked with Ronnie in some capacity.
His loss is keenly felt by us all! Meagan's first comment was, "Now who's going to tease me when I come into church every Sunday morning?" Ronnie is remembered as one who could dish it out and take it. He loved life, his family and his God!
The fourth and final FIRST (oh, how I love alliteration!) involved a simple hug.
On Saturday, the sisters wanted to all get manicures. John was busy cleaning up from youth camp. Poppa was on a bike ride and Uncle Nathan was at work. Enter NANA! Gladly, of course.
I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated at first. But Abby had already eaten breakfast, Spencer was ready for oatmeal, and Mickey Mouse club sat cued and on the ready. Besides, you can do anything for an hour and a half, right?!
Abby dozed off and I sat reading with Spencer on the couch. As boys tend to do, he got bored with the book and started squirming a bit. So I tossed the book aside and started tickling him. That progressed to the famed Zerbert Move.
"The Zerbert Move?" you ask. You know, the favorite move of every grandparent. The one where you place your lips on their sweet little neck, then Zerbert them until they lose their breath laughing!
At one point, I stopped just long enough to get another deep breath. And in that instant, Spencer reached back, threw his pudgy arm around my neck, gently patted the back of my head, then squeezed; giving Nana the most precious hug ever.
No time for tears (although they welled up) because the squealing started all over again which meant, "AGAIN, NANA! DO IT AGAIN!!"
My FIRST unsolicited, baby boy hug!
Deep contented sigh!
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
I'm in the process of completing a three day fast. (Please don't quit reading. This will not include a sermon, I promise you!)
It's the first time I've ever tried something like this.
Now, Frank has fasted routinely ever since I've known him. He enjoys both the spiritual and physical benefits.
Many times I wanted to join him. But the sad truth is - I Was Scared! There it is. I've confessed before each of you who dares to read this today. Embarrassing but true. I was scared to go without food!
Several years ago a doctor told me that due to a medical condition I was struggling with at the time, it was unwise for me to fast. I held fast to that recommendation! (Pun totally intended.)
So when Frank would call for a corporate fast with our church or for our family, I had to get creative. All sugars. Television. Hot tea. These were three of my favorite pleasures that I would relinquish for the duration of the fasting time.
And I still believe this is totally acceptable. But in late May of this year, I felt the Lord begin to nudge me about a total food fast. Water - lots and lots of water, of course - but no food.
Please be aware that I'm not telling you this to make myself look holy or special in any way. Quite the opposite! I was totally nervous about attempting this. And now I'm just so overwhelmed with the experience that I have no choice but to share it with you.
I reluctantly shared the nudgings with Frank who immediately got very excited. Sigh. So July 1, I began getting my body ready. Cut out all sugar. Decrease caffeine. Pray for courage!
Frank and I had put July 15 on the calendar for our start date. Three days. It would be just three days. Beginning after lunch on Sunday and concluding with broth on Wednesday night.
I have to tell you that tears spring to my eyes when I think how frightened and anxious I was about this adventure. I'm a three-square-meals-a-day kinda girl. I haven't skipped breakfast since college days. It makes me anxious when the doctor tells me to come in for fasting blood work!
Pondering three days without food was just about too much!
Laying in bed that first night after no dinner, Wednesday seemed a hundred years away! I had to literally keep saying to myself, "Are you okay right this minute? 'Yes.' Then don't worry about Wednesday. Focus on right now!" 'Right! Focusing on right now.'
If you are a veteran at this, I'm sure you're smiling now. But that's where I was, plain and simple. Terror is not too strong a word, trust me.
I remember several years ago when we decided to do a family fast. Each of the girls was to choose what they would fast. Kristin bravely relinquished her favorite afternoon television show. It seems that Meagan gave up a favorite doll. Joy announced boldly that she would be giving up all bike riding for the fast.
Now, we were homeschooling at the time. And that bicycle was the singular way we kept sane! When Joy would get overwhelmed or exasperated with her work, I would say, "Joy, go ride your bike around the house ten times and let's try it again."
She would always come back refreshed and ready to tackle the problem.
When she announced she would be giving up her bike for the week, I wanted to yell, "NO! Oh, please no! Not the Bike!!"
Needless to say, we made it through.
We also survived thirty days with NO TELEVISION a couple of times. Those were rocky getting started but wow the dividends they brought to our family.
The point? We survived.
Now trust me, I've never looked forward to a bowl of broth like I'm looking forward to the one scheduled for six this evening. I even considered bringing a favorite bowl from home and special napkin!
But I've also never experienced the special quiet times like the ones I've had over these few days.
And as I prayed this morning, this thought occurred to me. Maybe others out there are just like me. You've felt the nudging for spiritual disciplines from time to time but are just plain scared to attempt it. What if I fail?! What if I get overwhelmed?! What if I just don't have the fortitude?!
Here's the whispered response. Start small. "If we seek Him, He will be found." And oh, how special the finding!
See? No sermon. Just a thought.
For some of you, this is just for tucking away until a later time. But for others, I hope this will be just the encouragement you need to respond to the nudging you've had. To launch out in faith and see what wonders God has waiting for you.
Six o'clock is fast approaching! Anyone have a spoon handy?!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Extreme Joy! Incredible Agony!
Beautiful, Perfect, Precious little Abigail Grace made her appearance to this world on Saturday, June 30. We celebrated like crazy people; trying our best to keep things to a low roar while visiting the hospital.
As I sat with everyone there, the post title twirling in my head was: "My Cup Runneth Over!" And surely it does.
Then Monday I got two phone calls:
- One saying Joy would likely be released early; that afternoon as a matter of fact. Let the scrambling begin!
- The second call came later from a hospital in Panama City, FL. My dad was in the emergency room with life-threatening blood clots in his legs and lung. Someone needed to get there asap!
Enter the agony!
Am I mother first or daughter first?
Can my sister go with her family? (They live in NC.)
If we go at the same time, who will be there to care for him when he gets out?
What do you mean they're taking Joy's staples out two days early?
What's the treatment plan for Abigail's slight jaundice?
Can someone please explain the procedure you're about to do on Dad?
After multiple phone calls, texts, and a couple of intense "information gathering" conversations with hospital personnel, we came up with a plan.
My sister and her husband would go to Panama City first. They would asses the situation and if he was out of danger, I would come in just before his hospital release to stay til he was back on his feet.
Major call for prayer!
Joy and Abigail got home safely. Joy went back to the doctor to have the staples removed at the regular time. Abby was declared just fine by the pediatrician. Spencer loves "his" baby and gives gentle kisses regularly.
(I thought I had figured out how to pull a picture from facebook to share with you. I knew you would all be so proud of me. I'm still working on it. But with this much motivation - TWO beautiful babies for you to see - it won't be long now! Then you'll be sorry you ever asked.)
I did go to stay with my dad for five days. Three of those overlapped with my sister's time which was a wonderful gift for us. Navigating family difficulties is much easier with help.
Dad is now home, resting comfortably.
And I've let myself cry more than usual. I'm not ordinarily a weepy woman. It always seemed important that Frank know if I DID cry, he should pay attention.
The past two weeks of my life have merited tears; lots of tears. Tears of joy and of sorrow.
These two weeks have been a microcosm of life at it's fullest. Extreme Joy book ended by Incredible Agony. Can't have one without the other it seems.
While traveling the seven hours to help my dad, I kept a note card with the following scripture beside me. "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace." Ps. 29:11.
If the bookends of life are squeezing you a bit, grab hold of that scripture. It's a great one for bringing order to the intensity!