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. 


A step back in time – and looking towards the future

On the way home from a trip near Purdue country, Derek took a detour and we drove through our old stomping grounds. It was fall and it sparked my memory of a fall about 17 years ago when I fell in love with a boy… a boy that one day would become my husband, and later the father of my three kids. It seemed like stepping back in time for a moment as we walked hand in hand around the fountain.

Then, like someone pressing the fast forward button, I was whipped forward without warning. My kids were walking and looking around. One declared that this would one day be THEIR school, not just ours, while another was not so sure we should be there because we were no longer students…

I was reminded that in just 4 or 5 short years we will seriously be looking into where to enroll our kids in college… It froze my steps and I wondered where the time went, why I never appreciated the campus when I was on it like I do now when it is a distant memory, and wondering what it will be like to walk it someday as a soon to be parent of a student vs my nostalgic wanderings.

Time moves forwards and back again without much thought to how it tosses me about. So while I think of it, thank you for the moments I treasure in the past, thank you for the wanderings of my present, and please God, help me to live through the future of precious kids bent on growing up before my eyes.

Papa Rick

I could tell you lots of stories about my dad.  I could tell you childhood memories, silly things he said or did, a vast array of sayings, (both goofy and profound),  how insanely proud of him I am, and all the reasons why I think he was/is the best dad a girl could have.  But I wont.  I am not going to focus on just the past or give him the ability to discount and wave off my compliments and praises… (though you MUST understand that I could go on for hours about the love of this man and my blessing in having him for my father.)

Instead I am gonna tell you about “Papa Rick”.  Time is always ticking away and it could be easy to get caught up in the day to day battle with the clock, constantly battling the to-do list that grows ever longer on his desktop.  He’s a busy guy.  He’s not retired yet and he pastors two churches full time.  It’s a lot of work.

It would be easy miss the magic of the moments that can hurry by… but he doesn’t.  He makes each one count every time he gets the chance to catch a kid up in a bear hug.  He keeps contact via emails to his nearly teenage granddaughters and through shared infatuation with the newest Apple technology or apps the grandkids salivate after.  They are growing up into little techies, following in his footsteps.

Above it all – Papa Rick has one main love in life.  His family.  Moreover, the grandkids are the ones that capture his heart so completely that his attention is so focused you can almost see the joy seeping from his pores.

This is a picture of my brother’s boy… Emory, the newest kid on the block to our family.  There is no doubt on either of their faces that they are totally in love with each other. When I say my prayers of thanksgiving, especially around this time of year, I always am grateful that my kids have the kinda Papa who is interested, interactive, expressive, and involved.  He never ceases to amaze me with his continued passion to love and treasure them.

Thanks Dad, for not only being a wonderful dad… but for being the most amazing Papa I could have thought to pray for.  While we may not always have a ton of time in the same room… thanks for making the moments that come ones to remember.  🙂

Just yesterday…

I was absorbed in three different shopping lists – making piles in my cart for myself and two other people who needed me to get some groceries for them – so I frankly wasn’t paying much attention to the people around me. The store was not one I usually shop at so I was slow at making my way through the isles and finding what I was looking for. Shuffling through my three lists – it was hard not to backtrack. I wanted to actually leave sometime before tomorrow, so the lady ahead of me in the cereal isle was not really on my radar. As I looked up, I had an immediate flashback that hit me in the gut. It stopped me cold in my tracks. She was me. It was almost like looking at a photograph of a “Day-in-the-life” of Christi. No, she didn’t have a mop of red curly hair… it was more the look of exhaustion and almost quiet desperation that made her resemblance so striking. Like an old movie, the feelings and images came flooding back…

I was standing in Meijers, a tiny newborn son on my shoulder because he was hungry and screaming and my two little girls were in the shopping cart, ages 3 and 4, both of which had decided they also were hungry. They were arguing about who was touching who and I was desperately trying to hit the important things on my list and somehow get out of the store before tomorrow. The car seat was holding my groceries since the cart held my girls and it was NOT holding my son. I was pushing the cart awkwardly with one hand, trying to sooth Drake with the other, and grab things from shelves with the extra hand I didn’t have. I wasn’t paying a bit of attention to anyone around me but simply trying to survive the shopping trip. I was overwhelmed and nearly lost it as an older lady huffed her cart around mine from behind, obviously annoyed that I was ruining her quiet and leisurely shopping experience. I stopped and just stood there, watching her frustrated passing. My kids all were crying and I just stood there looking after her. I wanted to join them and the tears were very real and very close to overflowing. I wondered when it was she forgot what it was like to be me. I wondered if it truly was something I would someday forget… because in that moment, there was never going to be a day I wasn’t overwhelmed with simply existing and getting through one more day. I never slept as my newborn was in his growth spurt and ate round the clock without ceasing, my girls were active and healthy, both good things but tiring me out as i tried to also fit in a work schedule on top of life by doing transcription work from home. I could never imagine a day further in the future when my children would be leading their own lives, off at school, and out from under my feet and out of my arms.

But here I stood. And I had actually forgotten. I had forgotten how hard it was to simply survive one day at a time. I had forgotten how hard going to the grocery store was, and how much I dreaded it. And I sorta felt guilty about having forgotten. It was almost like I let myself down. I swore I would never forget, and I am always gracious to young mothers and try to be encouraging, but the honest truth is, you do forget. Life moves forward and new stresses take over where the old ones leave off. My days are still harried trying to fit everything in, keeping up with three kid’s schedules, homework plans, work, the house, and on and on. It’s just different. Someday I will forget this too. And while on some days that honestly brings me hope, it also makes me a bit wistful. Time is moving ahead and as hard as these days are, I want to grab hold of them and really savor them. They are slowly sifting between my fingers like sand. I cant hold on to them, and before I know it my harried days will give way to empty nest days and I’ll have more than just quiet shopping trips to get lost in my own thoughts. It will be quiet dinners, quiet car rides, and a quiet house. The elephants will no longer be running up and down my hallways and the monkeys will not be filling the walls with echos of laughter or even bickering.

I wanted to say something encouraging to the woman, but she had already turned the corner with her rowdy troops and so I was left to my memories. I finished my three shopping lists, headed out into the snow and was on my way in my quiet van. It felt like just yesterday that she was me… when did the ticking of the clock move time so far ahead? As I drove out of the parking lot I pledged to myself to savor every minute I am given – regardless how hard life is some days – so that I don’t miss even a moment. Before I know what’s happened, it will be another 10 years passing and my kids will all be gone on to their own lives. I promised my current self that I will consciously try to savor the chaos and treasure the never ending ToDo list that is my life. I said a little prayer of thanks to God for reminding me how far He’s brought me, and advance thanks for all He will travel through with me in the coming years.

Each day is truly a gift from Him. I don’t want to EVER forget that…