Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Gift

While today's post is about gifts and givers, it comes in two parts. 

Part One

A beautiful little girl is celebrating her FOURTH birthday today - her name is Abigail Grace Schreck!

Known as Abby to most of us, her name actually means "Joy of the Father."  And our oldest grand daughter has proven to fulfill her name over and over these four years.

The most resilient child I've ever met.  Abby has weathered surgeries, eye exams, x-rays, and face plants more times than we can count.  (Her feet don't always carry her where she wants to go as quickly as she wants to get there!)

But with each difficulty she jumps up, brushes herself off, flashes a smile that could melt an iceberg and takes off again.  We're never sure if it's the huge blue eyes, the adorable dimples, the bouncy blonde hair or the raspy lisp that pulls everyone in to her spell.

But when Abby focuses on you and begins to explain the latest adventure taking place in her imagination, you can't help but smile and nod agreement.  I've watched her captivate the toughest heart and force them to break into a silly grin of delight.

This fall she'll begin kindergarten.  We can't believe time is passing so quickly.  One thing is for sure, she'll be loved by her teacher and classmates just as soon as they meet her.

That's our Abby!  Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

Part Two

Last week I was getting my breakfast at the same time Nathan was packing his lunch for the day.  Our kitchen times overlap occasionally but I'm aware that Nathan is not a morning person.  He loves me.  He always responds politely to my overly chirpy comments.

But typically we stick to three sentences:
  • "Good Morning!" "Morning."
  • "Did you rest well?" "Pretty good."
  • "Have a blessed day!" "Thanks, you too."
On Wednesday I noticed that Nathan was searching for a sandwich bag for his turkey sandwich.  Unfortunately, we were completely out of sandwich bags and I knew it.  When he heard my sad report, he put his resourcefulness into action and wrapped the sandwich in plastic wrap.

But I knew his lunch would be stale in record time.  And at that moment, I remembered where there was a lone zip lock bag.  It stood as a silent sentry in the pantry, guarding the freshness quotient of my British tea bags.

As many of you know, air is the arch nemesis of tea bags.  Once they've been exposed to air, the freshness is sucked right out into the atmosphere and the avid tea drinker (such as myself) is left with decidedly mediocre tea.

And so you make every effort to guard the delicate tea leaves against being accosted by the brutish air.  Hence, the importance of the single zip lock bag in our pantry.

But I dearly love my sons.  The girls have accused me of showing more love to the boys than to them - silly girls!

It took all of a millisecond for me to reach into the pantry, grab the zip lock and empty it of the fragrant tea.  "Nathan, here's a sandwich bag."

He was surprised I had found one but expressed his gratitude, deposited the sandwich and quickly headed for the front door.

"Have a Blessed Day, Nate!"  "Thanks, you too."

As the door closed,  I rolled the tea bags into a tight ball against the onslaught of freshness-stealing oxygen.  "At least it wasn't an entire sleeve of tea bags, only half." I consoled myself with the idea.

While waiting for water to boil, I reached for the milk and thought, "Wow, Nathan isn't a tea drinker.  He didn't even have a way to realize what a gift I gave him."  I smiled with the thought of my small token preserving his sandwich......and my heart was instantly glad I had shared.

As I poured the amber liquid into one of my favorite cups and watched the steam rise, a whisper came to me.  "Sheri, how many times have I felt the same way?"

It was the familiar whisper of my Heavenly Father impressing my heart.  "How many times have I provided a gift for you that was more precious than you really understood?"

Before I could feel any guilt, the impression came clearly, "And I'm always glad I provided for you.  I dearly love you!"

A single tear dropped into my perfect cup of tea as I bowed my head.  "Thank you, Father!  Thank you so very much for every precious gift that I didn't understand how to value.  I'll never have the words to adequately express my gratitude.  I dearly love You, too!"

Rest assured, Dear Reader, He dearly loves you just the same!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lawn Beautification

Don't you just love the smell of fresh-cut grass?  It's like the scent-sational signal that summer is suddenly showing.  (I know that was a bit of a stretch, right?)

Our entire family breathes deeply when we pass such a lawn.  I also love the smell of newly tilled dirt but that's a different blog post.

Here in FL, the mowing began several weeks ago.  The lawns all around our little neighborhood are beautifully manicured.  Each emerald-colored carpet is thick and grows right to the edge of our road.

Starting late on Friday and all day Saturday you can hear the various models of mowers and edgers working their magic.  Most of the men in our community take great pride in making sure their lawn is pristine in presentation.  If they can't get to it that week for some reason, they hire the work done.  

With all the rain we had from the tropical storm this week, Frank told me he's certain he can hear our grass growing.

We bought this house ten years ago from a bachelor.  A fine young man who worked for another church in the area.  With great diligence, he took "lawn labor" to an entirely different level.

As a bachelor, he had lots of extra time on his hands.  He poured long hours into making the lawn at house 2013 look just like the greens on a professional golf course or the outfield of a baseball stadium.

His grass was uniform in height.  The edging was exact.  There were no brown spots to be found.  He meticulously manicured his yard and it showed.

Then we moved in.

Three daughters, two dogs and a steady stream of visitors.  Often those visitors drove separate vehicles to our home. Which led to parking anywhere they could find an open spot.  Even if that spot was more grass than concrete.

More cars meant more unsightly patches of grass.

Some of our guests were college students driving older cars with oil leaks.  Others weren't aware of what their tires were doing to our lawn.  Some simply had no clue. 

Brown spots began appearing where the oil had leaked.  Our driveway looked like it had developed a case of leprosy.  Grass died and had to be replaced regularly.

Finally, Frank gave up the impossible standard set by our predecessor.  He came to peace with our less than perfect lawn condition.  The anxiety of seeing cars strewn over our yard like a patchwork quilt completely disappeared.  In its place came joy!

After that, more cars came to mean more hugs, more laughter and more love being shared by the drivers.  And of course, More JOY!  So much more joy!

Frank and I stood by our front door a few days ago waving good-bye to the last of our party guests.  It had been a small group for our impromptu cook-out; only eleven cars to park.  For those few hours, our lawn looked, once again, like a brightly colored quilt.

As they pulled away one by one, we began to see the huge bare spots where an impeccably groomed lawn existed just ten short summers ago.  Now, our scraggly excuse for grass barely makes it to the road.  (A friend recently told Frank that we have more green weeds than grass.)

For a split second I closed my eyes and envisioned the verdant lawn that had been.  But then a final visitor beeped their horn and waved good-bye while calling, "Thanks!  We had a great time!"

Huge smiles.  Laughter echoing.  Rich memories swirling.  And JOY so much joy!

I took one more look at our yard and knew, it may not win any awards but I have the most beautiful lawn in the neighborhood.