Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Grand Days

Today I want to share with you two special topics.

The first is that Monday was the birthday of my favorite person in all the world.  (That's BIG because I love a Lot of people.)  John Franklin Hawley celebrated his 63rd birthday.

All teasing aside, I love this man more than I have words to describe.  He swept me off my feet over forty years ago and continues to amaze me with his faithfulness and determination to grow.  I recently heard a friend say, "If we keep learning, we won't become conceited about what we've already learned."

That describes Frank perfectly.

I chose to pray his birthday blessing when we had his family party on Saturday.  Tears caused me to stumble a little as I said, "God, please continue to bless Frank, who is without a doubt the most wealthy man I know.  He chose a path for his life as a young man of sixteen and could never have imagined then what joy You would bring to him.  As his family, we honor him and thank You, dear Lord!"

Frank was sixteen when he chose to make Christ his Savior.  That choice really did change the trajectory of his life and as a result, all of our lives as well.  I'm one grateful lady.  We snapped this picture with the nine grands after an impromptu bonfire last week.

Sitting in our pot of gold

But I also promised pictures from our recent foray into full time grandparent duty.  I mentioned that John and Joy went away to celebrate their twelfth wedding anniversary.  The Smiths, McGhees and Hawleys all jumped into service dividing the care of their four babies between us.

Kristin took the first shift.  Friday morning until dinner (which included but was not limited to) all school runs, naps and lunches.

Meagan collected them just after lunch on Saturday which meant she had EIGHT children to corral until John and Joy returned home around bedtime.
Here my counter reveals how four little people get ready for bed.
Noni and Papa took the longer shift which commenced Friday before dinner and concluded just before nap time Saturday.  I didn't get very many pictures because I was up to my eyeballs with answering the perpetual conversational musing of four very verbal children.

Papa had taken a couple of hours in the middle of the night to put together a race track we had purchased.  (Boys and Girls take turns getting special treats from Noni and Papa; mostly items we find on clearance or at yard sales.  Although these aren't expensive, the children keep close tabs on whose turn it happens to be!)  So, he was a bit tired.

If this exchange happened once ("Noni?"  "Yes, Baby.") it must have happened 500 times during those 10 hours.

Here are some of the pictures I was able to snag:

A few sheets turned the fort into a spy house.

Fortunately, we had several spies ready to move in!

Of course, all spies need special spy snacks

We ate avocados then planted the seeds

Papa was in charge of keeping all hydration equally dispersed.

Noni stayed busy trying to keep everyone fed!!

I had Plenty of Help . . .
. . . help that looked like this
Ava knew exactly how to clean up after spaghetti

(Sadly,  my computer won't let me add anymore text below the final picture.  Still learning you know.)
When Aunt Meagan came to pick them up, Papa and I were blessed with some extra snuggle time that looked like this . . .

(Grayson, Parker and Madi.  Taken on another day.)
A picture I'll treasure for Always!

Andrew Ryder Smith hanging on Papa's every word!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Elementary History Lessons

Today (in the USA) we're marking the life of a great man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was an outstanding preacher who challenged our nation to live above prejudice at a pivotal moment in our history.  I especially like his quote, "I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear."

His life was cut short when he was tragically assassinated.  Although he was an imperfect person (like us all) God placed him on the public stage at a key time to deliver a clarion call, "....judge people by the content of their character not by the color of their skin."

Our schools teach children about the key elements of that difficult time in our nation's history.  Apparently, our three oldest grandchildren had just had a lesson on this issue last week.  The circumstances surrounding Dr. King's death were fresh on their minds while riding home from school.

Kristin routinely picks up our three oldest a couple of days each week.  The ramblings of these three loquacious elementary students sometimes gets overlooked by the mommies who hear them all day every day.  But we're thrilled that Aunt KK tuned in just in time to hear this little exchange taking place in the back of her van last week.

(Conversation between Spencer - 8, Abby - 7, and Noah - 6.  I'm going to warn you, this is funny. Very Funny!)

Noah: We talked about Martin Luther King today.  Did you know he was killed?

Spencer: Noah, do you know another word for killed?  Assassinated!  Martin Luther King was assassinated.  He was standing on a balcony preaching to a lot of people.

Noah: 5,000!

Spencer: No, that was Jesus.  (Spencer went on to give out more information with all the superior understanding a third grader can muster.  He ended with this. . .)
He was preaching and someone came in his house and shot him.

Abby:  From behind?

Spencer:  Yes.

Abby:  Then he just fell to the ground.

Spencer:  KK, you know there were other people who got assassinated?  Abraham Lincoln.  John F. Kennedy

Abby:  Abraham Lincoln was shot in a theatre.  How was John F. Kennedy killed?

KK: In a parade.

They proceeded to start talking over the top of one another.  Each one needed to explain some additional element they had learned surrounding that time and the topic.  Can't make this stuff up!

Here's a shout out to the teachers helping our little ones sift through the realities of history.  And to the parents who make sure their babies can discuss the Bible as well as historical matters with the same certainty.

The next time I post, I want to share some fun pictures with you from our grandparent adventure this weekend.  John and Joy went out of town for two days to celebrate their twelfth wedding anniversary.  We split up care of the children with the other two sisters.  Frank and I took the supper / bedtime/ lunch shift.  Can't wait to share what a grand time we enjoyed.

Here's a teaser picture:

And just one more:

Trust me, there are stories attached to these two pictures that will make you smile at the very least and if you have a healthy funny bone, they may make you laugh out loud!

Hoping your week is Great!

Saturday, January 11, 2020


Welcome to the New Month.  The New Year.  The New Decade!

WOW, that is a LOT of newness all in one spot.  And yet, here we are at this point in history.  You and I are the ones who were born for this moment in time.  Do you feel the excitement as I do?

I've always been a fan of New.  I'm not sure if it started with my first pair of new shiny black patent leather shoes or with my first box of marvelous smelling Crayola crayons.  (Pretty sure my first box was only 24 as Mom didn't see the need for the full 48 and 64 was just a waste of money, in her thinking.)

As I've aged, I've become especially grateful for New beginnings.  If I didn't get it accomplished last year, here is a chance to try again.  If the old habit isn't yet broken, I have a brand new day to exercise discipline and see it gone.  Haven't experienced the answer to my prayers yet?  Maybe this is the season for my miracle.

There has just always been something exhilarating for me when a new beginning becomes visible on the horizon.  Remember the night before a new school year began?  New classes.  New friends.  New opportunities.

I grew up like many of my friends with a life bordering on the average.  (Of course, Grandma always made me feel extra special; isn't that the calling of every grandparent?)  But as each new year began, amid the normal feelings of anxiety and uncertainty I also had a wave of hope.  Hope that this year would be different.  I started feeling that every January 1st, as well.

New Beginnings!

Now, some people have let discouragements and disappointments "temper" their enthusiasm for new.  I've heard them managing their expectations with phrases like, "Aww, it's just like any other day."  "Why get all worked up about a new year?  We still have the same problems we had last year."  "We've started and failed at this so many times!  What makes this time different?"

Doesn't it make you sad just reading those thoughts?  While they may have an element of truth, they certainly don't leave room for possibility.  And I'm all about Possibility!  Especially the possibilities that come with each new day.  Each new year.  Each new decade.

While spending some time in reflection and prayer, I realized this past decade brought a literal population explosion to our family.  John and Joy had already married.  But Meagan married Nathan last decade and Kristin married Cody.  Between them all six, they then blessed us with NINE grandchildren.  That's exponential growth for any organization but especially for one family.

Sitting in my prayer place on January 1, 2010, I could never have envisioned so much JOY.  But I knew Frank and I were hoping for additional sons and for the gift of grandchildren.

Have we also had struggles?  Oh my YES!  Are there things we still haven't achieved?  Absolutely, quite a few to be honest.  Everyone's life is made up of difficulties and disappointments that make the victories even sweeter, if we allow them.

The choice lies in choosing to see what is possible in spite of disappointment.  That choice beckons us to embrace and celebrate the NEW.

Here are a few of my favorite reminders from the Bible:
  • Revelation 21:5  "He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!'"
  • Isaiah 43:18 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!"
  • Lamentations 3:23 "...his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning..."
  • Psalm 40:3 "He put a new song in my mouth..."
Ah, Friend!  Don't squander the opportunity to look forward to the new possibilities coming your way.  Watch the horizon, NEW is upon us!

How about you?  Are you someone who also enjoys the idea of NEW?  What things happened in the past decade that were a surprise to you?  Please take a moment to share with us in the comment section.