Happy Birthday in Heaven

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My heart aches every time I’m near the part of town you lived in or near the exit your nursing home is because I know that I can’t just pop in and see your sweet smile.

You helped raise me, fed me, taught me, joked with me, helped me with homework, made me the smoothest hot cocoa, and the tastiest pancakes. Your house was really the only place I ever felt safe, and I really wish that I could sit down at your kitchen table with you just one more time.

You always made my birthday special, and I wish I could do the same for you. However, my birthday plans would far pale in comparison to what you’re able to experience now. I’m grateful that you’re no longer trapped in a body with a mind that betrayed you, but my heart is still really sore in your absence.

Thank you for showing me love at times I felt unloveable. Thank you for being my granny.

I know you’re having the best birthday yet.

House on Hazel Mill

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“House has no value, and is deemed unsafe.”

1350 square feet, 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. About half an acre of land. $40,000.

Sold.

In 1963, this home was purchased by Barney and Imogene for $6,000 which I suppose is roughly the same as $40,000 is in today’s time.

Built in 1920, several of the rooms and five porches were added on throughout the years. The kitchen was moved from one side of the house to the other, and there were at least five rooms beneath the house that were used for storage and other things.

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The back yard was large and at one time housed a barn, an outhouse, a large garden full of vegetables and sunflowers, a storage building that covered a sink hole, two occupied dog houses, and a wooden porch swing.

There were lots of fights, tears, terrors, and fears that occurred on the inside, perhaps that’s why it looked like that house that is mentioned in stories, the one legends are born from. The house with the yard you don’t want your ball to roll into.

There were lessons learned, hearty meals consumed, tinselled trees covered in lights, a hand laid creek stone path.

Little girls running through water sprinklers, daffodils, rose bushes,and dogs.

Long talks. True love. Safe haven.

To me, my grandparents house is invaluable. I was practically raised within these walls. Moving around all over the county, this was the one constant home throughout my life.

It was demolished last week, and a piece of my heart went down with it.

My grandparents haven’t lived there for a few years, but I would often drive by just to steal a glimpse of what used to be. In March, I jumped out and picked a handful of daffodils my grandmother had planted. They lie pressed in a heavy book on the shelf in my living room.

To say this house had no value stings. I doubt that I’ll often drive past the place where my grandparents home perished, but when I do, I’ll remember them and the love and safety they offered me at the times I needed it most.

Thankful for Sweet Dreams

In the pale morning hours, I was awoken by my sweet daughter. She’s much more of a morning person than I will ever be, always greeting me or her daddy with a big toothless grin.

After her feeding this morning, her daddy took her out of the room and gave me one of the best gifts- a couple of more hours of rest.

During this time, my mind wandered into a detailed state of dreaming.

I was in a hospital room, visiting with some friends and their babies, I had my daughter with me as well. No one was sick though. I don’t really know why we were in a hospital.

The next thing I knew, my mom had come in, and I heard my friend say something about my dad, then my mom said “you need to come be with your dad.”

Clearly I was confused because my dad died over a decade ago. Nevertheless I followed her, demanding answers. I asked her what he looked like, if I’d be shaken by his appearance. She simply said he looked normal and that the nurses think he may have longer than they originally thought.

I walked in his room, saw him hooked up to all sorts of machines. Tears filled my eyes as a rushed by his bed. “Daddy it’s me, I didn’t know you were here” I cried. Slowly he raised his hand and touched my face.

I asked him if was ready to meet the Lord, and if he was certain of his salvation. He looked at me with curious grin, and nodded. My heart was overwhelmed with joy.

I showed him my daughter, and he tried to tickle her foot making her giggle.

I was overjoyed to see him, but so angry that I was told he was already dead. I kept apologizing, telling him I’d have been there everyday had I known he was there.

When I wake up from dreams like these, it always takes me a minute to decipher reality from my dreams, and they stick with me all day.

I do not dream of him often, but when I do, I always acknowledge that he has passed on and we just visit with each other briefly. I don’t know what dreams like these mean or if I even believe that people can really visit you in your dreams. But this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for so many things, particularly I am thankful that my husband let me sleep in a little so that I could spend this holiday with my daddy.

Happy Quarter Life, My Dear

Happy Birthday! It’s hard to believe that this is the fifth birthday we’ve celebrated together as a couple and the seventh as friends.

You are a quarter of a century old, and you’ve spent a fifth of your life as mine. I look forward to turning that fifth into a few more quarters.

However that is enough math talk seeing as you are the one that is numerically gifted, and I am not.

What I really wanted to say is that I am so glad that you were born. Because you were born, my life has been incredibly enriched. You are the greatest blessing I’ve been given aside from my salvation, and for you I am eternally grateful.

You have a way about you that continually draws me back to you. I’m never bored by you, but constantly intrigued by your selflessness, relentless love, and your adorable wit.

I sit back and think about what I could’ve done to deserve such an amazing husband, and all I can conclude is that you are the grace of my life, the unmerited, tangible favor of God, hand crafted and designed by the creator of the universe just for little ole me.

You have been a sterling representation of His love for me, and it is my supreme honor to call you my husband.

So my dear I hope you know that today and everyday I celebrate the day that you were born.

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Happy Birthday, Grandpa. You’ll Be Missed.

Happy birthday, grandpa. You will be missed. Its been a week and a half since you passed on.

You were always so funny. Thank you for all of the laughs. You are always faithful to use the over the hill gag gifts that I would give you on your birthday, to eat the easy bake oven cakes I would make. Sorry I stopped making them as I got older. At least I would bring you a milky way candy bar. I wish that I could bring you one today.

Even though you were such a jokester, I am glad that I got to have a serious talk with you a few months ago. I am glad that I got to thank you for being such a great grandfather to me. I’m glad that I got to thank you for stepping up and being the number one man in my life after daddy died. I am also glad that I got to thank you for teaching me how to drive and for hanging out with me so much when I was a teenager.

However, I didn’t thank you for always being faithful. You were faithfully committed to your relationship with God and you were faithful to granny. I admire these qualities about you.

So today on your birthday I want to thank you again for being the best grandpa any girl could ever ask for. I hope that my daughter is as close to her grandfather as I was to you. I love you bunches and miss you a lot.

I know you’re going to have a happy 92nd birthday in heaven!

Surrounded by Peace: A mother’s reflection

As I sit here in my partially sunlit living room, the coolness from the spring breeze that smells so sweet here in the mountains pouring  through our screen door, I can’t help but feel the peaceful presence of the Lord washing over my constantly worrying motherly heart.

I have not given birth to this sweet miracle growing inside me yet, but you cannot convince me that I am not yet a parent. I fully believe that parenting begins while the child is still in utero. A parent is nothing more than a caretaker, and I am all consumed with taking care of this little girl who seems to be getting a kick out of kicking me in the diaphragm.

I do not know what her face looks like, how her eye lids cover her eyes, whether she has her daddy’s button nose and envy provoking eye lashes or if she has my full lips and dimpled chin. I do not know what her cries sound like, whether she’s calm and collected like both of us or if she’s spicy and passionate full of a feverish intensity.

But I do know that she is a gift. One that I do not deserve, but one that I am eternally grateful for. I do know that she moves gently when our kitty lays sweetly near my belly. She moves excitedly when her daddy talks to her. She moves to the beat of my guitar’s resonance when I’m playing it near, and she thrashes about violently when we’re near music that is too loud and too closely related to a rock concert.

As I near her grand arrival, I tend to worry about her delivery, her health, how prepared I am to deal with a newborn. But then a calmness rushes over me as I feel God saying “Let me perfect what I’ve started in you.”

Earlier in my pregnancy, I was paralyzed by so many fears. From gaining too much weight, to having a traumatic birth experience. All of my fears were certainly legitimate, and if you’re reading this and are feeling very fearful about your pregnancy or anything else that may be going on in your life, it’s OK. Do not let anyone ever tell you that your fears are childish or foolish. Only ignorant, cold-hearted, and wicked people will purposefully make you feel that way, and they are clearly not worthy of any of your time or concern.

As the weeks have quickly passed so have many of my fears. My child and I have both been blessed with wonderful health so far, I have been given beautiful support by my family, and we have been incredibly blessed with necessary gifts to aid us in taking care of this sweet child.

When fears of inadequacy swell in my heart, I hear the Lord say “I have not given you this spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and of a sound mind.” When fears creep into the corner of my mind about the birth I hear “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

I’m drawn back from this reflective moment by the low hum of cicadas and the cars passing by. Life is busying itself all around, and I am thankful for peace.

Teach Your Kids to Pray

I am so thankful that my parents taught me how to really talk to God. It has proven to be incredibly beneficial for me throughout my life. Prayer has brought me closer to God which has brought me much healing both physically and mentally. I’ve known from a young age that I can boldly approach the Lord, give Him praise, acknowledge who He is, and make my requests known to Him. I hope to teach my children what I know and in turn watch them learn far more than I can teach them.

I am re-blogging this article from Whatchristianswanttoknow.com about how to teach your children how to pray.

 
Teaching Children About Prayer: 8 Tips for Parents

by Crystal McDowell on March 21, 2013

Are your children praying? Not just over their meals, but do they know how to get a prayer through to God? As a parent, you can’t be available to them 24/7, but God is everywhere all the time and can answer their prayers in His perfect timing. Just as you can decipher the urgency of your children’s request—how much more does your Father in heaven hear the cries of His children (both young and old) and answer according to His will?

You must instill your faith in God into your children by teaching them to pray at the earliest age possible. If you missed the boat in this—there is still much grace from God to begin today:

#1) Start by Example

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 11:1)

Is prayer an important part of your life? Do you pray with your children on a daily basis? An active, intentional prayer life keeps you sharp and connected to God. It will give your children great hope and assurance when they know you are praying for them. They will more likely begin to pray for themselves and others as they watch your prayer life.

#2) Use Prayers from the Bible

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)

The “Our Father” is one of the most widely known prayers in the Bible that brings incredible unity in the body of believers when prayed together. Find the prayers of Moses, Nehemiah, David, Solomon, and Jesus for starters. Begin the practice of memorizing and reciting prayers together as a family.

#3) Pray Scriptures

“For the word of God is alive and active.” (Hebrews 4:12)

You must instill your faith in God into your children by teaching them to pray at the earliest age possible.

When my son was younger, he was afraid of the dark. I taught him to pray “God, you haven’t given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and of a sound mind” from 2 Timothy 1:7. Eventually he’s grown up to know that he can translate any of God’s scriptures to a prayer language. God’s word is the sword of the Spirit that our children can use to impact the world with powerful prayers.

#4) Practice A-C-T-S

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant.” (Daniel 9:17)

Years ago I learned how to pray A-C-T-S as a guideline and taught it to my children. The acronym is: A (give adoration to God), C (confess our sins), T (to give thanks), and S (to make supplication or requests). For our family devotions everyone participated in this prayer with confession being a silent prayer between God and the children. This became an effective tool for prayer that they still use today in their personal prayer time.

#5) Demonstrate Body Posture

“When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.” (1 Kings 8:54)

Whether standing, sitting, kneeling, or stretched out —your outward expression of faith in prayer helps keep you focused. Children can be accustomed to a certain position of praying out of habit. By changing the prayer posture from kneeling to standing with palms open—your children learn to physically engage in their prayers and experience the practice of humility before an awesome God.

#6) Encourage your Children to Pray out Loud

“A time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

Have you ever felt uncomfortable when asked to pray out loud? There’s a time for silent prayers, but your children may have opportunities to speak out loud when praying. You can use your family devotion times as a chance for them to practice in a safe, comfortable place. Their confidence will build so they will always be ready to pray out loud in school, church events or wherever God leads them.           

#7) Look for Opportunities to Pray

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Driving past an accident, a classmate whose parent’s are divorcing, trouble with grades, etc…all of these circumstances need prayer. As you keep alert to intercessory opportunities, your children will eventually bring their requests to your devotional time together. Let your children hear “let’s pray about it” from you when life throws a curve ball at them. It will build their faith in God to answer according to His will.

#8) Keep a Family Prayer Journal

“Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered.”
(Exodus 17:14)

Wouldn’t it be nice one day to go through a family prayer journal like you peruse through old photographs? Writing down your prayer requests and God’s answers can speak volumes to a child’s faith. It gives credence of God’s faithfulness and encourages them to seek out His face on a regular basis as well as stretching their faith in praying for the impossible.

These tips are just guidelines to get your family started on a greater journey of faith. God blesses you with so many opportunities to reveal His hand, His love, and His presence in the lives of your children. Make prayer a top priority for your family—one day you may be the beneficiary of your children’s children prayers!