Monday, February 19, 2007

Pillow Talk

My husband was out of town last week, tuning pianos in Pendleton. When he's away for the night, I let the grandkids (they live upstairs) take turns sleeping with me. It was eight-year-old Andrea's turn on Tuesday night. She came downstairs to my house and we got into our jammies, laid in bed and talked. And talked. She has a train of consciousness that speeds down the track like the out-of-control engine in The Polar Express. I just lie back and listen until she runs out of steam.

"Grandma, did you know that a girl in my class moved? I think maybe it was because she was mean and didn't have any friends. Her parents never taught her the difference between right and wrong. Mom says that some kids don't have parents that teach them the right things. But my mom and dad always try to teach me what God wants me to do. And Grandma, I can jump rope really fast now. And the dentist thought I was really brave when I got the shots for my cavity. And..." We ended up praying together for her former classmate.

The next night, five-year-old Joshua shared my bed and the deepest concerns of his heart.

Joshua: "Grandma, did you know that sometimes when I toot, I can make the toot go back inside me?"

Grandma: "Wow, that's really something!" (I was thankful it was dark so he couldn't see my face, and he didn't seem to feel the bed shaking with my contained laughter.)

Joshua: "I have growing pains in my leg right now."

Grandma: "Do you want me to rub your leg?"

Joshua:"No, I want to grow! Sometimes I can grow by just stretching and squeezing my ears and my nose and my neck without even using my hands. Did you know snot is the medicine that keeps my throat from hurting when I try to stretch it?"

Grandma: "Well, I always wondered what snot was for!"

I know the day will soon come when Andrea and Joshua no longer think it's a treat to sleep with Grandma, but for now, I'll continue to enjoy the insights they unveil as we share a pillow.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine Thoughts

Thirty-seven years ago, after a church Valentine banquet, my husband and I shared our first kiss. He was in graduate school and I was merely a high school senior. We had met the end of December at a Campus Crusade for Christ conference, not knowing at the time that our lives would soon merge and we would walk side by side for decades.

I was 18 when we married. A very innocent, naive girl, but sure that marriage to John was what the Lord had in mind for me. I still have love letters we wrote during our engagement, where I pictured the perfect marriage lived in a house surrounded by a white picket fence covered with climbing roses. You might have imagined the same house!

As you know, life doesn't turn out quite like that. We all experience times when marriage is not joy and bliss. When we either throw up our hands and give up, or determine to do the hard work necessary to see it through and build a vibrant, growing marriage.

If I had it to do over again, would I marry John? For sure, but I would make some different choices. I would find better ways to show him how much I respect him. How much I love him and need him. I would never cause him to doubt that he's the most important person in my life.

Luckily for me, I can do it all over again. Each day is a fresh start. Another chance to choose the right responses and to put him first. Another day to walk side by side till death do us part.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Point of View

My husband and I were at a Valentine's Dessert at our church Friday night. Mixed among the chocolates, candlelight, love songs, and desserts was a wacky rendition of The Newlywed Game.
A part of me wanted to be one of the couples chosen to participate, while the other part thought John and I might not score very high. It would all depend on the questions asked.

We were not called up front, though I played a very important role as Quality Control, having to nix many of the responses that Kent Fordyce tried to pull over on the others as being correct answers. To say he has a tendency to stretch the truth is putting it mildly! I must admit that he and Kathy did win the game fairly, beating out those who had been married fewer years than they have.

One of the questions the men were supposed to answer about their wives was this: Which would your wife think was the most romantic--a dozen roses, a picnic on the beach, or a quiet table at a fancy restaurant?

Though John and I weren't officially playing, we kept comparing our answers throughout the game and were doing quite well. So I was surprised when he said he would have picked the fancy restaurant as my romantic selection. I informed him that the picnic at the beach was more romantic to me.

"You mean you would rather eat peanut butter sandwiches on a sandy beach that stinks like seaweed and has a strong, cold wind blowing in your face?" he asked.

"Oh, that's not what my beach looked like," I replied. "I saw it as a beautiful day with a warm sun shining through the blue sky, a barely perceptible breeze brushing our cheeks, and a picnic basket filled with goodies."

What was appealing to me was appalling to him, simply because of our points of view. Isn't that often the way it is in life? Let's give each other the opportunity to explain where we're coming from before we decide we disagree!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Care For a Sandwich?

You've heard of the Sandwich Generation, haven't you? They are the baby boomers who are caught in the middle of life, caring for their elderly parents on one hand, while the other hand is still involved in their children's lives. These boomers are like the filling between two slices of bread.

For some, the tension is overwhelming, causing rifts in relationships. Parents demand more and more time, requiring help for the basic needs of life. Adult children ask for financial aid, or presume babysitting is always available. What's a boomer to do??

I feel like I'm living in the midst of this, but in a way most people don't get to experience. Both my husband's mother and my parents live only 25 minutes away. But that's not a negative thing at all.

My mother-in-law is 90 years old and lives in a memory care facility for Alzheimer's. Until we moved her here from Arizona a couple years ago, we only got to visit her once a year. Now we get to spend time with her at least a couple times a week There's a bond there, even with her dementia, that we've never had before. We lead a worship service at her facility every Sunday and have this wonderful little congregation of people in different stages of Alzheimer's. They have enriched our lives.

My parents moved from California just over a month ago. We've always been close and correspondended on a daily basis, but there's something so special about having them near and being able to drop in and see them any time I feel like it. They're only in their 70s, so they still are very involved in life around them and in reaching out to others. They have added a new depth to my life.

My husband and I share a house with our daughter and her family. She and Kevin and the kids have a complete house upstairs, while John and I have our own house downstairs. It has been an incredible time of sharing our lives with those two generations. Getting to watch the grandkids grow and get in on all their activities is just great. We have a connection with them that most grandparents miss out on. And since Christina and Kevin are some of our best friends, we've all found it easy to live together. Plus it's always so handy to have someone to borrow milk from!

So I guess what I'm saying is that being involved in multi-generations of family can be a very good thing. I'm finding that being the filling in the sandwich is very fulfilling!