Tinnie Treasures


My Grams has, over the many years of my life, typed me letters when passing on treasures and heirlooms as a gift. I’ve always saved them in my cedar chest that my Grandpa Howard made. As I unpacked boxes this morning in my new home and replaced my treasures into the chest once more, I came upon one that I had tucked away for a long while. I honestly couldn’t remember when exactly it was given. 

As a family, we all moved a lot in life. My grandparents traveled the country as ministers and social workers, retiring as Salvation Army Officers. My dad was a pastor who was skilled in loving hurting churches or called to “fix” the broken.  My aunt and uncle similarly were in ministry and social work. We didn’t have homes that were buried deep with layers of memories. They had to be carefully chosen and intentional. 

Each of our homes had a “family wall” that kept us close to each other. Distance was erased with a glance at the precious memories. 

As I carefully packed the chest I opened a little box. It held a letter and a small round cameo frame. Inside the velvet lining was a small oval that held my Grams favorite picture of me as a baby. Having been named Christine, being the very first grandchild, being so tiny, and eventually being the only granddaughter, I held a precious little place of my Grams heart. I was her Tinnie. I was Grandpa’s Chrissy. This is who they saw, regardless how old I was. 

At times I wanted them to see me as a grown up, struggling as a teen. I wanted to be a grown woman when I had a child of my own. I wanted them to be proud of me. Often when confronted with a situation I didn’t know how to handle, I’d ask myself, “Can I sit and tell Grams this? Would she be proud of me? Will I be proud of myself” It was a reality check that would send me back to my core personhood. Essentially it forced me to see if I was being authentic or not. 

I read the letter. There is no way she could have known how much Id have needed to read this right now. To hear her profession of love and pride in me, it drew tears. 

As I sit now, on my bed in my new room, I stare at this picture then out the window. It’s a new year. Today begins the next book of my life. I want to write the pages that will make me proud of myself. 

Lately I’ve been numb. I’ve not had a lot of good days. The last few years have been incredibly hard. Last year at this time I sat in a hospital with my son and prayed that God would heal him. His burst appendix terrified me, and I had to force myself to be strong for him when I wanted to collapse. I had to draw upon courage and strength I felt were fleeting. I didn’t feel confident in handling all the things that continued to try my strengths and to tease my weaknesses. It was a very long year. 

I look out the window once more. They sky is lazy today. It’s as tired, before it even began, as I am. The hint of blue behind the clouds never quite makes it’s mind up to commit to unwrapping sunny rays for the day. It’s almost  like the sun pulled the covers back up over its head and decided to sleep in.  

Next to me sits another frame. It holds two pictures. One is of me a few years ago, where I attended a formal event. Next to me is my Great Great Aunt Pearl. She wears a pretty necklace. It too was given to me for safekeeping. It also included a letter in the long slender box it came in. It reads of a woman who’s heart knew no bounds, but was also strong and solidly rooted in her faith. 

I want to dig into myself, into family, into faith, and to find my core. Aunt Pearl was an incredible and strong woman. I want to be exactly that. Strong, incredibly full of love and grace, and above all to be confident and sure of exactly who I am and whose I am.
In one week I will have flown back to Indiana and will ride a transport that will bring my Grams to be with me in Texas. We get a road trip! I could not be beginning this year more different than last year, and I couldn’t be more happy about that if I tried. ❤️

2017, I welcome you into my home. Let’s do great things together in the coming year. 

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Sing, Sing a song…


I sat beside my Gram and rubbed her forehead with the edge of my thumb. Tears ran down her cheeks as she finally gave in to the weariness and the pain and the frustration of the last 36 hours. She didn’t need my words. She needed love. I had that in abundance.

So we just did that for a while. She needed to feel. I needed to love her. We just were.

“You are better today than you were when I came in here yesterday,” I gently reminded her. “When I come see you tomorrow you are going to be better than you are right now. Give God some time, He’s gonna have you back up and moving again. I know this.” Gently I let my hand trail down her face and find her hands and give it a squeeze. She cried with the name of Jesus on her lips, nodding her head in agreement.

What you need to understand is that this is a woman who always has the name of Jesus on her lips, but not tears. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with tears, it’s just that tears aren’t something she readily allows. She is a strong, hearty, motivated, and fiercely independent woman who’s managed to recover from some pretty significant things in the past. She will again. It isn’t a question. Not for today. Not this time.

“My Tinnie girl, oh how I love you my Tinnie,” Grams cried as she enveloped my hand in both of hers. Tears of my own threatened to spill over.

image2Earlier today she proudly introduced me to the chaplain who stopped in. “This is my favorite granddaughter, Christine. My Tinnie girl.” Then the rest of our treasured joke was explained, how I am also the only girl amongst the boys. I better be the favorite! Over the years the joke has been there, but in the years I’ve been an adult, raising my kids, her great grandkids here in the same town, our relationship has changed into a new one. A precious one.

I began weekly coming for lunches long ago, back when my Grandpa Howard was with us and I would sit and chat with them till Gramps would fall into a post lunch slumber and the two of us would laugh and then slyly turn the channel and watch us some HGTV while he snoozed. After he passed away, going on almost 5 years now, the two of us grew ever so close. I still came weekly for lunch and chats and HGTV, but I went to the grocery and ran errands and did odds and ends around the apartment. We just hung out and I loved on her in ways I knew I could never ever get enough of.

IMG_6029I’ve had friends say, “Oh how I wish I could sit with my Grandma one more time.” I think of it each time I go. Every lunch from Arby’s I bring, I delight in the way her eyes light up as if lit from the place of childhood delight. She loves DQ and the curly Q on the top. She loves a good chocolate chip cookie, and oh how she needs a nice cold Diet Pepsi to wash it down with… and a few salty chips after for that salty bite after the sweet.

I treasure each and every moment because I HAVE it. My Grams is going to be 91 this November. Time is not a given. Some point will come along the way and I too will say to a friend, “Oh how I wish I could sit with my Grams one more time.”  I’ll wish for things… to share a Pepsi, tell her what’s going on in life, and to simply sit and take her in, tears and all, after a fall and illness that put her in the hospital.

When I was a little girl, my Grams would sing to me. She would sing,

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not

Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

image3And so I do. Often. I’m not the best singer in the world. I am no soloist. But the song I sing is loud and clear. It’s full of love, joy, and happiness. It’s not made up of the same words every day, but the song I sing can be known just by knowing me.  At least I hope so. I hope it’s reflected in everything I do and say, what I am and Who’s I am. Love. So much love.

image1

My Grams and me during one of our lovely Wednesday Lunches

And Grams, I love you.

I’m singing our song, loud, strong, simple, yet enough to last my whole life through, and I’m singing it, Grams, for you and for me.

Easter Hunting for fairness in the fun


stock-footage-easter-eggs-background-colorful-easter-eggs-in-a-basket-with-green-grass-decoration-white-300x168“On your mark, get set, GO!!!” Two little girls with bouncing curls and flouncy Easter dresses scurried off with baskets way too large for their little bodies to carry gracefully. One little freckle-faced, redheaded boy stood looking wide eyed, watching as his sisters darted here and there and snatched up eggs of all colors and sizes. Grandma took him by the hand and pointed to a big blue egg and he picked it up and put it in his basket. His eyes gleamed and were matched only by his wide grin. He just stood there, however, so she pointed to another and another, soon being clear that the “hidder” was now the “finder” in this hunt for little boy eggs.

The girls were back in no time flat from their mad dash throughout the house, baskets overflowing. The wide grinned boy followed them into the room, sat on his haunches to peek in at his eggs, and shook them, as he saw his sisters do, to try to guess the loot they held inside. It was painfully obvious that the girls far out hunted this little guy. He didn’t seem overly bothered by it, in fact he was oblivious, but the girls, they knew. One of them came up and tugged on my arm and said she was sad that “Drake-Drake” didn’t get many eggs. It’s wasn’t fair. She felt bad.

I looked down at her. This was not a child saying it wasn’t fair THEY didn’t get as many eggs as their siblings. It was the one who got the most who was worried about the one who got the least. She asked if they both could share eggs and make it equal. They thought they should all have the same so no one would be left out. With a tight throat I nodded my approval. Of course! They had already learned the important lesson I wanted them to and they were only 6 & 8 years old.

They got busy and counted out their eggs and then counted Drake’s. Each gifted him eggs from their piles until it equaled out so that they all each had the same amount. I wasn’t sure what to do with that. I really wasn’t. I was proud of them.

From that point on, every year, they would do the same thing, only they never asked me for permission again. It was assumed that they would have the fun of the hunt, but then they’d share the loot. It didn’t matter if it was Easter hunts after that, either, it extended to anything. Trick or treating, birthday party prize bags, arcade game tickets, you name it, they shared it amongst themselves.

They still do to this day, and they are 11, 14, and 16. Lindsey came home one day from an appointment where she had been given some candy as she left. She asked if she could take one for her brother and sister too. They would have never had known she even had the candy as it was during a school day, but she knew.

I may have helped them learn to share, but God Himself had written the verse from  Matthew 25:40 upon their hearts. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ They began living this out in many ways, always finding ways to give to others just like they do for each other.

Give Yourself Away This Christmas


Today I helped my aunt make make magic happen. I was giddy as I drove to Grams house, knowing my aunt was on her way down from Wisconsin. She was brining with her a very special surprise. I was giggly inside like it was Christmas morning.

My Grams just celebrated her 90th birthday last month. I help her put out her Christmas things each year, and we both enjoy our (now) tradition of doing so. Even though she has several trees in her retirement home, she has mentioned how she misses sitting and looking at a tree. There is something magical about sitting and watching the twinkling lights and seeing the refection off the ceiling and windows; the glow of it by the drawing evening and the peacefulness it evokes as the memories of Christmases long ago swirl around it unseen.

My aunt decided there was absolutely no reason why she didn’t have a tree other than she hadn’t moved one with her here, and there was no practical reason to “need” it because there were several down the hall. Here’s the thing about that however… There’s no way to sit and let memories swirl as family members come to visit in the stillness of the light bathed tree, if only you can take time alone with it. My grams, you see, is the last of her family line. She is the oldest. She is our matriarch. She has watched everyone she knows go before her, all her siblings and extended family, as well as many good friends. While she knows she’ll one day be greeted by these cherished loved ones, well, she misses them. She misses the traditions, and she misses just sitting and looking back in time, to when she was a girl, anxious for Christmas morning to arrive, and to head out to Christmas services with her best dress on and proudly holding her daddy’s hand.

So this year for Christmas? This year we gave Grandma her memories. We gave her what she cherished most… a chance to travel back in time. Her time machine just happens to look a lot like a little three foot artificially lit tree decorated with special bows and shimmery balls and tinsel.

Christmas is not about what’s practical. Christmas is about finding out how to go about giving the one gift that seems impossible, and then finding a way. Christmas is about magic. It’s about love. It’s about giving. Christmas is based upon one very important gift.

God so loved the world… THIS world, that HE gave his ONE and ONLY son, in the form of a baby, so that He, GOD himself, would know exactly what it was like to breathe, live, crawl, walk, see, smell, love, and loose, just like us. He gave away His only child, to all of us, so that He could know us in a way He never could otherwise. He experienced everything this child, Jesus, did. He delivered unto this world a savior. One that would one day grow into a man so that he could CHOOSE to follow in His father’s footsteps and LOVE us enough, to give HIMSELF away, all so that we, YOU AND ME, might live… forever.

If that is not the ultimate gift, I surely don’t know what is.

Grace was delivered to the world, in the most unexpected of ways, through the birth of a tiny little child one long, lonely night, so long ago in Bethlehem. It is because of this ultimate and amazing gift that we now give gifts to each other, to celebrate the magic and, in some way, to say thank you for that beautiful act of such love from above.

Don’t get me wrong, I like receiving gifts, but oh, by far, it is my greatest joy to be the one finding new ways to creatively recreate magic… To spread the joy of Christ. In each act of giving, if given with the spirit of the first Christmas, a bit of that first holy night is reborn in each of us, as we give ourselves away.

May you be richly blessed over the holidays and remember, you are deeply loved by the One who created you.

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Handmade love


I know that Valentine’s day is not cherished by all.  It can be a hard holiday.  I also know that, these days, it is a guilted holiday for many who feel obligated to buy up enough of the cliche goods and put out enough money to make sure a fellow loved one feels they are in a treasured spot.  It’s not about $$.  Hate to break it to those folks.

Me?  Want to know what I want most from MY sweetie, my “Valentine”?  Just some time.  Maybe a stolen nap during the day while the kids are at school, I’d love that.  All curled up under a fuzzy throw, his arms around me as I lazily do no chores and just soak in the blessing that is just HIM having been my husband for 15 years now.  It’s enough.  I do that on lazy Sunday afternoons and it’s honestly one of my most favorite and treasured times of the whole week.

I LOVE Valentine’s Day.  I love those crayon hearts and doily cut outs.  It makes my heart sing to see the joy on my kid’s faces when they show off their creations that express what someone means to them.

Case in point?  This is my grandma.  She’s super special, and I have a cherished relationship where I get to go each Wednesday and have lunch with her and curl up in the living room and we chat while we watch some insane home makeovers on HGTV before I head back home to my kiddos.  There’s no card that says how much all that means to me.  There’s no way to truly purchase something to tell her that… so we made a surprised visit today to see her and bring her a hug from her Great Grandkids and some homemade love gifts.

You cant get better than homemade love and hugs… (But a side of York Peppermint Patties didn’t hurt 🙂  hee hee)

Happy Valentines Day – and may you feel loved simply because you ARE!

Blessings,  CC-