Archive for Grandkids

God’s Heart

The other evening several of us were sitting at mother’s bedside singing some of the old familiar precious hymns of faith and hope; “Solid Rock, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Shall We Gather at the River, I Love to Think of My Home Above, Oh Come Angel Wings, Blessed Assurance, What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Power In the Blood, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, Near To The Heart of God, Sweet Peace the Gift of God’s Love (mother’s favorite)…..” mother was singing along and it was a binding together time of worship, hope, love and faith. The hymns spoke to and of our heart need.

Mother’s time on earth is drawing to a close and yet as a family we could sing songs about gathering together some day in heaven. I mentioned to mother to stand by that grand river and watch for us to come. Music has a way of binding us together and connecting us with God’s heart. Scriptures says “He inhabits the praises of his people” (Psalms 22:3). To think that when believers sing together it moves the heart of God in a special way and He literally comes near. A holy, almighty, loving, Father God settles himself in our midst. Do I really comprehend how tender and precious that is. Maybe we should sing all day long!

As we were singing, I was reminded of another precious time when a song ministered to me through my granddaughter Lauren. She was sitting on my lap in church when a song touched and moved her even at the tender age of 18 months. I have never forgotten the experience. As I watched my ninety-two year old mother attempting to sing along and my dad moping his eyes, I knew we were on holy ground. It was a moment to be treasured and remembered.

Below is the blog post I wrote July 6, 2003.

By Cleland B. McAfee

There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God:

A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God

Chorus:  O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God,

Hold us, who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God

 

There is a place of comfort sweet, Near to the heart of God;

A place where we our Savior meet, Near to the heart of God

 There is a place of full release, Near to the heart of God;

A place where all is joy and peace, Near to the heart of God.

Sitting on Grandma’s lap in church is a very special privilege and one my granddaughters relish.. On this particular Sunday, it was 18-month-old Lauren who reached out her arms to me after Sunday school. As we worshipped in singing, Lauren amused herself by quietly flipping the pages of the songbook When the chorister started to lead “Near to the Heart of God”, she pushed the book aside, turned around on my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder. With her little heart quietly beating on mine, Grandma and Lauren shared a very special bond for the entire song. With my head resting gently against hers, I gently rubbed her back hoping to not break the specialness of the moment. Suddenly the words of the song took on new meaning. It was as if Lauren knew and understood the words to that precious song. Tears welled in my eyes as I vividly saw my Jesus gently rocking and holding me tight. It was a holy moment to be near to the heart of God and my granddaughter unknowingly showed me how precious it is.

Meeting Jesus in a quiet place is a special privilege that only His children know. Words cannot convey the pure love of the moment when my heart beats against God’s heart and He wraps His arms around me, holding me tight. That moment doesn’t happen accidentally.

Psalm 73:28 says, “It is good for me to draw near to God.” God is always there, but I have to turn and give God a squeeze. It is a “place of full release, where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.”

Bye Mommy

When loved ones are dying, it changes our life perspective and makes us think about heaven… a lot. We watch them cling to the earthly while the heavenly begins to pull stronger.

I was reminded recently of a blog post I wrote about my granddaughter Lauren in January 2004. It seems appropriate to post now.

Lauren was running as fast as her little legs could carry her to my house.  But every few steps she would stop, turn back towards Mommy standing on her front porch just across the drive, clinch and unclench her fist to wave, and say, “Bye Mommy.”  The pull to the comfort and love of Grandma’s house was huge, but to leave Mommy for even a small time was also a big deal. The moment she was in the door she no longer looked back.

It reminds me of our life struggle. My desire to see Jesus and to live with Him forever has me running full steam ahead while the love of the present has me strongly anchored to earth’s soil.  God has prepared a heavenly city with precious stones.  A mansion is waiting with streets of gold.  There is a river of life flowing with crystal clear, nourishing, everlasting water.  The banquet table, laden with food, is set. There is a tree bearing life-giving fruit every month.  The heavenly garments are washed pure white.  But my shoestrings are firmly knotted to my anchors. 

How can one say goodbye to loved ones?

How could my family get along without me?

Who will complete my unfinished work? 

Who will cherish my treasures?

I want to see my granddaughters grow up and hold their babies.

I love my husband and cherish our time together.

I still have things to do, places to go and words to say.

The pull towards the comfort of my heaven home is huge.  Father God is there. I often look to the sky and wonder when Jesus will return.  To leave earth is also a big deal even though Scripture reminds us over and over that our time here is temporal and fleeting. I am strongly rooted and attached to the things of this earth. God has created within us a desire for fellowship and belonging.  God blessed the creation of male and female and commanded us to be stewards of the earth, to be fruitful and multiply.  Jesus commanded us to make disciples in every nation.   I am grateful it is not for me to decide when my task is done.

Titus challenges us to keep a proper perspective while on earth, “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)  When God beckons, my shoelaces will snap and I will go; I will not look back for I shall see His face.

Going to Kindergarten

When a five year old gets ready to enter kindergarten, it is a big deal for Mommy and especially when it is your first child.  Our daughter Jill was having a talk with Karla about this new grand adventure she could hardly wait to begin.  The conversation went like this.

Jill:  “Now you know that when you go to school, Mommy will stay home but you are a big girl and will go all by yourself….”

Karla:  “That’s ok.  Jesus will go with me.”

Jill:  “That’s right, but what about Mommy?  She will be home all by herself.”

Karla thought for a moment and said, “Well, you can have Moses!”

Moses!  Karla gets Jesus but Mommy has to settle for Moses!  Maybe she thought Mommy needed someone to lead her around so she wouldn’t get lost!

Later in the day Jill decided to pursue the conversation a little further and explain how Jesus could be with Karla at kindergarten and home with her all at the same time.  After listening to her mom’s theological explanation of the omnipresence of Jesus, Karla said, “that’s okay, Mommy.  I’ll take Jesus for two hours and then you can have Him for two hours.”

October 14, 2008

2021

And now, all of a sudden, this lovely girl is getting ready to graduate from high school and on to bigger and better things. Where have the years gone? Jesus has been and will continue to go with her. It is exciting to watch her mature into a young lady who has a passion and heart for God.

Blessings to you, Karla.

Love Grandma

Cute Sayings by the Grandkids

When my grandkids were little I wrote down some of the cute things they said.

I love this picture with my three granddaughters

Caught pictures of Emily, Lauren, Karla and Ryan playing Hide and Seek. They were so cute. (2008).

Counting…playing hide and seek.
Anticipating …ready or not, here I come

This is my collection from granddaughter, Emily Nicole:

  • December 7, 2003: Some youth girls were practicing music after church. Emily who was 3-1/2 years old quietly slipped up front and danced her heart out…. to God, totally unaware of anyone else and the girls practicing were unaware of her. I just happened to look through the window in the auditorium, had my camera in my hand and was able to capture this precious moment.
  • July 2009: Emily had just completed a week of Chorale Camp at Rosedale Bible School and her mother took her out for breakfast to have some mother & daughter time alone.  She asked Emily how she enjoyed camp.  Emily responded, “Didn’t I tell you about it last year?”  That was the end of the conversation-there was nothing more Emily had to say. 

This is my collection from granddaughter, Lauren Anne:

  • July 2009: Lauren was riding with us to church and out of the blue she said, “Grandpa, will you forgive me for not being your grandson?”  We were just stunned at her question and on further questioning, discovered her mother had written in her baby book that grandpa was hoping for a grandson!!!! 
  • September 19: 2010: Last week Emily and Lauren found out that I have a bathing suit! This totally blew them away. I guess they could not imagine their grandma in a bathing suit. Today Lauren wanted to know if she could see it, she really did not think I had one. After looking at it she said, “Myyyyyyyy, it is old! Looks like something the lifeguards used to wear!” Guess that dates me!!!
  • July 2, 2013: Lauren said she is going to start a blog about the funny things her grandma says such as “wrash clothes”!!!
  • July 20, 2015: We were having a family supper and there was a discussion about flying. One person at the table had a severe paranoia about flying and we were were giving that person a hard time. I was asked what I would do if the plane started to go down. I said, “Pray. I’ll just die and to to see Jesus”. Lauren threw up her arms and shouted, “Hallelujah”! We all stopped stunned. Then I said, “Lauren”! I’m not sure what she actually meant but the situation became hilariously funny. At least I know she will be thrilled that I am gone!
  • February 6, 2015: Today a conversation with Lauren went like this. Lauren: “It smells like snow”. Me: “You mean it looks like snow?” Lauren: “No, it smells like snow”. Me: “What does snow smell like?” Laruen: “Snow”. Me: “Snow does not smell”. Lauren: “Yes it does”. Me: “Does it smell like the farm?” Lauren: “No, it smells like the snow you eat when it snows”. So, now I know!

This is my collection from granddaughter, Karla Grace:

  • July 2009: Karla to Lauren after Lauren and Emily had a little sister tiff: “I don’t think you’re very good sisters. I really like it when you’re GOOD sisters.” 
  • August 7, 2009 According to Karla, “The beach is lots of fun. But coming home is even MORE fun.”  
  • May 3, 2010 Obe said, “When I don’t know the answer to a question, Karla just tells me she will ask God. She is quiet for a while and then tells me what she thought God said…..
  • July 23, 2011: Karla said, “I love being here without mommy and daddy.” That makes a grandma feel good and special.
  • July 23, 2011: We were celebrating Uncle Keith’s birthday and Karla said, “For my birthday, I want a healthy cake”. I asked her what that would be and she replied, “Carrot cake”. Now we know!!!
  • November 2011: The following email was sent to Karla’s daddy from her teacher at public school: “HI Obe.  I just love Karla… she has a heart of gold!  While the kids were talking about their lists for Christmas gifts, of course everyone has such materialistic items.  But Karla just asks for Jesus to forgive her of her sins.  She has a very special heart and relationship with the Lord. Great for her!” 
  • September 7, 2011: Jill posted on facebook….Karla was chosen to be on the bus safety committee. She gets to learn how to use the 2-way radio, set the parking brake and all kinds of cool stuff so she can help in case of an emergency. Today her duty was to keep order on the bus for the substitute driver and let him know where to stop. Hah. She came home and said, “Mom, I had to use my SERIOUS voice and some of the boys STILL didn’t listen.” It’s only beginning, hon, it’s only beginning.
  • March 21, 2013: Karla and Ryan called me this morning on my birthday. I asked them if they knew how old I was. Karla guessed 23! I said “No” and then Ryan guessed 42. When I told them I was 61 they said, “WOOOOW. But you look so young!!!”
  • May 19, 2013. The grandkids were all here for “Fun Day on the Farm” a special event we host for the community. As Karla was climbing in the car to leave she said, “I am sorta ready to go home and I sorta want to stay longer”!!! Karla is a homebody and that was a real compliment coming from her.
  • March 31, 2015: Karla and Ryan were here for a few days and Karla apparently had a bored or mischievous moment. She texted both of her folks who were both at work and said, “I have a boyfriend”. She got their attention as they both immediately called. Her mother said, “WHAT are you doing? You mean Lauren has a boyfriend, right?” Lauren was also spending the day. I about died laughing when I heard the story from tow giggly girls. It was not even April Fool’s Day yet–but close! They now know how to get their parents immediate attention!

This is my collection from grandson Ryan Darrel:

  • January, 2009: Karla (5) and Ryan (3) were arguing about what happened to the snow. Finally Ryan figured it out and adamantly explained, “I know!  God ate it!”  Of course, he insists he is right.
  • February 13, 2010: Gene and I attended the wedding of a niece and Ryan came to me, “Grandma, can you take me home. I am tired and I want a nap!”
  • May 18, 2010  Ryan told his daddy….that God helps lift him up so he could jump higher (on the trampoline) . He asked me to watch as he jumped high and so that he can now see over our neighbor’s fence!
  • May 29, 2010  Ryan graduated from pre K yesterday. Today he wanted to know when Church stops. Does he graduate from Church?
  • June 25, 2010: Ryan was down for a grandkid visit without his parents. I was not aware I had monsters in the house and that they were so scary. I can not write a book on “50 Ways to Not Go to Sleep”…drink, pee, scrooch, wiggle, too cold, too hot, too dark, can’t sleep, scrooch, wiggle, scrooch, wiggle….finally!!!!
  • June 27, 2010. Ryan did not need to say his prayers tonight. God came down out of the sky and talked to him today so he prayed then.
  • June 25, 2010: Ryan spent several days at our house.  The first night when I was tucking him in bed he said, “there are monsters in your house-there they are (pointing out the door) and they are very scary! 
  • June 27, 2010:  When I tucked him in bed he said, “I don’t need to say my prayers. God came down out of the sky today and talked to me and I prayed then.”
  • August 2010:  Ryan’s great-grandma Heatwole took him shopping for his “resting blanket” for Pre-K.  As they looking at the blankets, grandmother asked him which one he wanted.  He said, “let me get my list.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper on which he had written the colors  he wanted in his blanket with crayon marks of the color beside the word.  He said, “…Red, check, blue, check, green, check…till he named all the colors.  Then he pointed to the rainbow blanket and said, “that is the one I want.”  He had done the paper totally on his own and unbeknown to his mother!  Later in the van with his mother and his new rest blanket for pre-K, she heard Ryan say, “abracadabra, put us in Daddy’s car. Bam!” and then, a very disappointed, “Mom, it didn’t work. I picked the rainbow blanket because rainbows are supposed to be magic!”
  • September 8, 2010 Mom’s report on Ryan at PreK:  Ryan was SO excited about his new underwear that he just had to share the excitement with his classmates. According to Ry, this led to a “show-and-tell” and at least one little boy dropped his drawers to show off his undies. Which of course led to a lesson in modesty from the teacher. Ms. Michaels, I am SO sorry (and SO glad it was you and not me!)
  • November 3, 2010:  Ryan announced this evening to his mother… “Mommy, my pants keep falling down. You need to buy me a butt.”
  • November 22, 2010:  Ryan’s theology: I asked God why he made thorns and he said, “It’s part of nature.” and I said, but why? and God said, “It’s so people remember to wear shoes!”
  • September 4, 2011: When Ryan grows up, he wants to go to a church with children’s church, “so my children do not annoy me.”
  • October 5, 2011: Ryan is such a care-giver. At school, it is his responsibility to take classmates to the the school nurse (he knows the way all too well). But he’s added a new twist. His teacher says he prays for each one when he takes them…… “And a little child will lead them” Isaiah 11:6
  • November 24, 2011: We were taking Karla and Ryan along back to Powhatan for a few days. We were not even half way home and Ryan suddenly developed an attitude and started to cry. He was inconsolable. Then he wailed. Grandpa threatened to turn around and take him back to Harrisonburg. He wanted his mommy. Finally I called Jill and she talked to him but that did not help. We just kept driving and finally he cried himself to sleep. What a way to start a trip to grandma’s house!!!
  • September 9, 2012 on Jill Hostetter’s blog…This morning I experienced 15 of the most scary moments of my life as a Mommy. Ryan disappeared. I need to start with a disclaimer: I don’t panic easily when my kids are “missing”. Because honestly I have lost them too many times before. There was the day in JCPenny when Ryan walked off because I practically dared him, “You stay right there!” and turned my back to make the point. Yeah. I counted to ten, turned around and he was gone. I will say JCPenny amazed me with their rapid response, with all entrances sealed, and he was back at my side in 2 minutes. Or the time in Kohls when Karla was about 3. She was easier to find, because the sales clerk a few rows over in lingerie was giggling uncontrollably. Karla had a triple D bra over her head like a hat. And yes the cup was larger than her tiny head. And there was the time in Powhatan on the farm that we lost track of Karla, only to find her headed out to pasture with the cows. She crawled under the electric fence and headed off to see the bull. Good thing she had a bright red sweater on. Sheesh! I think she was 2 1/2 that time. I’m really not a bad parent, I just like to give my kids the freedom to explore a little. This morning was different. Obe got up and left for a men’s group at 7 a.m. I came downstairs about 2 minutes before he left and Karla was packing her lunch. As soon as he left, I started looking for Ryan. His book bag was packed by the door, but he was nowhere to be found. After the third search through the house, I asked Karla to help. This time, we checked in the closets and under the beds and our calls demanded that, “If he could hear me, you need to answer NOW.” You know, just in case he was sulking somewhere. On the fourth search, I’m calling Obe, repeatedly, on his cell. Of course he doesn’t answer. This time, I include smaller places that Ryan might have gone into and gotten trapped. The attic, for example. We searched outside, too. I stepped outside to think a minute. Karla was starting to panic and went to the backyard one more time to check the playhouse. Our neighbor was walking to his car and I called out to see if he had seen Ry anywhere. He quickly responded that he would search outside for me. I went back in to look one more time. I couldn’t put the pieces together quickly enough. Karla insisted Ryan was in the living room this morning. How does a kid disappear FROM HIS OWN HOME that fast? Loosing them in a store or on the farm, it’s easy to loose track for a few minutes but on our little lot? It just didn’t make sense. There was no where to go! Next thing I know, Ryan is standing on the doorstep, wide-eyed. “Daddy said I could go to the neighbor’s on the other side of our neighbor to sell my fundraiser. ”And just like that I hugged him. We went straight to find Karla and she burst into tears. It had been a long 10-15 minutes of searching. I couldn’t fault Ryan. He thought Daddy would tell me where he went. But bless his little heart, he wrapped an arm around my shoulder and said, “You don’t ever have to worry if you can’t find me. I’ll come back. I have to. I can’t leave you.” And that my friends, is how one of the scariest moments turned into one of the best.
  • May 19, 2013: The grandkids were all here for “Fun Day on the Farm” a special event for the community. I overheard Ryan ask his mom when they were going to honeymoon again. He wants to come to Powhatan this time when they do!
  • July 12, 2013: The grandkids were here for several days and they love to play games. The game “Sorry” I can handle but “Memory” I really do not care for and Ryan is a pro. Ryan said I have short-term memory loss! Well!!!!
  • July 12, 2013: I made chocolate chip cookies today. Ryan says I should sell them and put a sign on them that says, “the grandkids say these are the best cookies in the world”!!! And then he said I should take some cookies and cut them in small pieces so that people can have a sample. This kid has an enterprising spirit and loves the store. He is also always looking for a way to make money. He also wanted me to make sure and give his mommy the cookie recipe because she does not have it.
  • September 21, 2013: Last Christmas I gave the grandkids gallon size money jars with $20 worth of coins in them. I told them that when they got $100, I would match it but the money was to go into their college fund. After that it was up to their parents how they spent their money. A month or so ago Karla earned and received her $100. Today I got a call from Ryan, “Grandma, I got my $100”! I asked him how he did it and he gave me a run-down of where and ow much money he earned. The last $10 came from cleaning their basement giving him $101.50. Then in a pitiful voice he said, “Grandma, don’t do that this Christmas”!!! The idea for this came when Ryan was here fall and he saw a customer pay with a $100 bill. That just blew him away and he wanted one so bad and thought he could quickly and easily earn it by doing a few chores for me. Now he knows how valuable it is!

This is my collection from Noah Stephen:

Noah was a cute little fella but I never collected any sayings from him as he was more of a question asker….question after question after question. I guess I should have written down his questions!

Houston, We Have A Problem

The weather on Christmas Day was warm and inviting to be outdoors. Grandson Ryan got a drone for Christmas from his parents and he brought it along to Powhatan. He and his cousin had great fun flying it in the large open fields and taking aerial pictures and videos of the farm.  The drone has limited range but it could soar like a bird and sends an alert message to his phone when it is getting out of range. I was impressed and thought the pictures were amazingly good!

Aerial view of the farm
Horse Stables-Powhatan Equestrian Center

Once the drone got out of range and before he could bring it back it went down. After searching, they found it in the driveway. The drone is not easy to see. It is a very lightweight, wire- looking contraption with two red and two black wings. You know you are flying it correctly when you have the red wings away from you going forward and the opposite coming back.

Snaptain Drone

By mid-afternoon Ryan was feeling fairly confidently in his flying skills and offered to take me on a picture taking excursion of the farm. We took the golf cart across the creek to the top of the hill on the other side of the farm to get a good aerial view. He uses a remote to control the drone and gave me his phone to watch the pictures the drone was sending back. It was so cool to see the pictures as they were taken. That thing could almost be addicting! Before we finished, I wanted a picture of us by the golf cart watching it fly.

As he was bringing the drone back into position, it got caught in a wind draft above the trees and moved out of range behind a grove of trees where he couldn’t see it. When he lost visual sight, he couldn’t tell which direction the drone was going. In a panic he started wildly moving his controls. The drone dropped in altitude and then we heard the sick sound of it crashing into the branches on the trees. The drone was stuck on a small branch of a big tree about 60 feet in the air. He tried to get it to move but it appeared to be upside down.

The grove of trees. It was above the big branch that is going horizontally.

“Houston, we have a problem”!

It was a sad ride back to the house on the golf cart as he talked about the what ifs, might nots and should haves. Ryan handled himself very well but he could hardly believe what he had done. Everyone had to go assess the situation.

The girls weren’t any help!

We do not have any equipment that would begin to get that high in the air. Uncle Keith evaluated the situation and felt it could be gotten but said we needed a tree guy. We knew several. Grandpa called his buddy Wray who promised to come to the rescue on Saturday.

Ryan had to go home without his drone.

Saturday.

Wray came with a lift he uses to trim trees and his Big Shot Slingshot. He felt he could probably get it with the slingshot.

He had a weighted pouch on a long rope that he shot over the branch and then was able to shake the branch.

After several tries, the drone tumbled about half way down and rested on another branch. After another couple of tries, the drone tumbled safely to the ground, landing at the base of the tree right side up and unharmed.

Wray flies remote controlled planes so he had a soft heart for Ryan predicament. He said, “Trees are a magnet for drones and planes!” There are wind drafts above and around trees that you can not feel from the ground.

Wray told us a story. One time when he was flying his remote controlled planes. He thought it was a buzzard flying in the area and decided to chase it with his plane. He worked his way up towards the buzzard, circling, when the bird got very agitated. He suddenly realized it was a hawk, not a buzzard and started moving away. The hawk, with one fast swoop, suddenly nose-dived at the plane, hitting it with its beak. Right before his unbelieving eyes, his plane exploded into confetti. Oh, the lessons we learn!

There was one happy boy listening to the whole ordeal on his phone! He wanted to hear what was happening in real time!

Houston to the rescue. Problem solved! All is well that ended well and a good lesson was learned.

Me

This was written when Lauren was just a little tyke. She recently had a birthday and I reminded her about this story. Happy 18th birthday to a sweet, helpful, caring young lady with a servant’s heart.

January 25, 2004

I have decided that precious, sweet, cute, adorable Lauren is basically selfish.  It seems her favorite word is “me” and if that isn’t enough emphasis for a given situation it is “me, me, me, ME!”  Me wants her share of cookies.   Me likes to play with the same toys as her big sister.  Me wiggles into “her” spot on Grandma’s lap even if it is full.  Me wants her book read first.  Me cherishes her share of attention.  Me is afraid she will be left behind.  Me pushes a chair up to the sink to be close beside Grandma while she works.  Me notices herself in pictures.  Me wants to help Grandpa feed Katie, the dog.

I, too, struggle with selfish motivations.  I take good care of my needs, wants, desires and rights.  Step on my turf, take what belongs to me, deny me my privileges, and see how I react!  Sometimes the picture is not too pretty. 

Scripture helps us to evaluate ourselves and teaches us how to develop Christ-like character.

  • Let nothing to done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others.  Philippians 2: 3-4
  • Love does not seek its own way.  I Corinthians 13: 5
  • Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4: 1-3
  • For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  Romans 12:3
  • Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.  Romans 12:10

Since the beginning of time when Eve yielded to the lust of the eye and ate of the fruit in direct disobedience to God, mankind has struggled with the temptation to sin.  The lure of wisdom and longevity snagged Eve even though it sounded like a reasonable and noteworthy aspiration.  But Eve was thinking only of her own wants, desires and rights, and in the process doomed us all to the struggle with sin. 

Paul understood this struggle.  He said, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”  Paul also experienced sweet victory.  “…God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you will be able to bear it.”  I Corinthians 10:12-13

Jude 24-25 offers hope in this passionate benediction:

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.  Amen”

Gentle

A good name is to be chosen than great riches

Loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

Proverbs 22:1

 It was at my husband’s birthday lunch that we found out the news.  It took a moment as we read the card for the reality to sink in.

“Dear Grandpa, you don’t know me yet, but the doctor says you will around March 6th.  I’m looking forward to meeting you.  Happy 50th birthday!  Love your Grandkid.”

Suddenly we joined the club of other smiling “older” folks called grandparents. We didn’t have any pictures to show yet but we did get to see a glimpse of our still unknown offspring through a grainy ultrasound photo. It was fun to see its head was shaped just like my babies. Our first grandchild!    It was so exciting and so much to dream about and anticipate.  Would “it” be a boy or girl?  What would “it” look like?  What kind of personality would “it” have?  As the days and weeks crept by I began to bond with and pray for this little one being created in seclusion by a loving heavenly Father.  I found myself praying that this little one would have a gentle spirit and a heart for God.

One day Viv, Jill, and I were having lunch together and Jill and I were trying to weasel out of Viv what the “its”  name would be.  Finally, I said, “whatever you do, if it is a girl, just don’t name her Emily!” I just did not care for that name.  There are times when it is best to not say out loud what you think! Unbeknownst to me, I created a real problem for the expectant parents. After seeking counsel from several other people, they decided to stick with their name of choice.

I have made it a habit through the years to pray for my children, even before they were born.  When they were little I started praying for their spouses.  As the children’s personalities developed, I prayed for specific personalities for each of their spouses. It was so neat to see how God answered each one.

It is interesting to me to observe people’s names and to see how often their personalities reflect the meaning of our names.  Is it by coincidence?  Maybe.  Maybe not. I choose to believe that godly parents who seek God’s favor are given divine guidance in naming their children.  In the Bible  God sometimes told parents what to name their children and what the life mission of that child would be. God’s eyes see and know our substance being formed.  (Psalms 139:16)

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalms 37:4

When tiny, precious Emily was born, her mother, unaware of my prayer for a spirit of gentleness said, “We like the name Emily because it makes us think of a gentle, sweet person.”  As I watch our oldest granddaughter develop, I am grateful to God for her gentle, sweet nature.  And guess what?  I immediately loved the name Emily! How could I not, God had smiled with delight as he answered my prayer!

Happy 19th birthday Emily!

Tomorrow

Sometimes simple questions have very hard to understand answers.  It was one of those times when 4-year old Emily ask me, “When is tomorrow?”   My first response was “tomorrow never comes.”  I could tell by the puzzled look on her face that I needed to come up with a more sensible answer.  As I tried to intelligently answer the question, I found myself stumbling over a jumble of confusing words.  “Tomorrow is the day after today except it never comes so when tomorrow comes the next day is tomorrow.”  Fortunately for me the answer satisfied her desire for more knowledge or questions!

My mind began to ponder the elusive tomorrow.  If it never comes, why do I fret and worry so much about it coming?

Jesus preached a little sermon on worrying and being obsessed over the basic needs of life.  He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matthew 6: 33-34)

James said we should not boost about our plans for tomorrow, what we will do, where we will go or the profits we will earn.  “You do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” (James 4: 14-15)

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes struggled with the vanity of life. He too fumbled for words, “Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after” (Ecclesiastes 1:11) and “that which is has already been, and what is to be has already been; and God requires an account of the past.” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

In 1950, Ira Stamphill very eloquently penned the words to the following song.

I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day.

I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for its skies may turn to gray.

I don’t worry o’er the future, for I know what Jesus said,

And today I’ll walk beside Him, for He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand;

But I know who holds tomorrow, And I know who holds my hand.

Maybe I will wait until tomorrow to worry.

 

Written: April 11, 2004

 

 

 

Drivers Ed on the Farm

Grandkids, Karla and Ryan, are here with us for several days while their folks are celebrating their anniversary in Cancun. My instructions from her mom was to teach Karla to drive. She can get her learners in March but has zero driving experience nor a good place to learn. The biggest and fastest vehicle she has driven has been my golf cart.

 

Lesson 1: I drove the pickup across the cattle guard to the driveway into the cattle pasture. I turned off the truck, hopped out and said, “Let’s change sides.”

K: Grandma, I’m terrified.  I don’t think I can do this.

G: Yes, you can. It’s not hard.

I told her how to start the truck, what the letters (P, R, N, D, L) meant and what the brake and accelerator were. Immediately the right foot went on the “go” pedal (according to her) and the left on the brake.  I smiled to myself but didn’t say anything. Sitting on the front of her seat, she grasped the steering wheel for dear life and started the truck.  It immediately started moving forward very slowly.

K; Grandma. It’s moving. How do I stop? I’m terrified!

I think she used the terrified word at least two dozen times!

G:  You are doing just fine. But you can push the brake to stop.

Her left foot instantly pushed the brake to the floor.  We were probably going one mph but we also immediately lurked to a stop! By now we are both laughing so hard she can hardly drive.  The next lesson is on using only the right foot for both petals and pushing the pedal evenly.

K: “But grandma, what if my foot is on the “go” pedal when I need to stop?”

G:  “Your foot can move from one pedal to another”.

The concept of only using one foot seemed totally unrealistic to her. After all, you have two feet and two pedals! I explained the safety issue involved with using two feet. You don’t want to push both petals at the same time!

Karla did a great job. She made it to the end of the field and back several times at the neck-breaking speed of 4 mph. I assured her she was not going fast and that on interstate you go 70 mph and that eventually she would have confidence and experience.  Suddenly going 70 mph and entering traffic on interstate seemed like an paralysising feat and she just did not know how her dad did it.

When we were done, I had her drive over the sixteen foot wide cattle guard back to the yard and park beside our car.  She was sure she was going to hit the side post of the gateway but she did it perfectly.

This was a hilariously funny event. I laughed and laughed at her crazy thoughts and expressions.

Lesson 2:  We had a lesson on reverse, signaling, the horn and windshield wipers. This time I let her drive to the field which meant she had to back out of the parking space beside our car.

K: “But, grandma, I can’t see behind and I might hit something!”

We talked about how to see behind using the mirrors or turning your head and looking. She just knew there was going to be something in the wide open space behind her that she couldn’t see and was going to hit! We made it to the pasture and this time went further; through a second gate opening into the back pasture.  We saw two wild turkeys and a coyote which was an extra little bonus.  She loved the turn signal. When we came to the end of the road and she had to turn around in the pasture, she stopped and put on her signal. We did squares in the pasture and at each turn, she signaled. But she had to stop in order to signal. I explained that when she is driving on the road, she will use the signal to let other drivers know she is planning to make a turn. This also means you have to turn it on while you are driving and before you get to where you are going to turn.

The cows were out grazing in the field and several crossed the driveway we were on. She pretended it was a pedestrian crossing. Again, she was sure she was going to hit one of them but I showed her how to keep easing forward very slow and they would move. On the last lap back to the house she reached the unfathomable speed of 10 mph. She beamed with pride!

Lesson 3: This time there was a big improvement in her confidence. She adjusted the seat and leaned back. She maneuvered the truck out of the parking spot and into the field. This time we went exploring across the pastures. She had to ford a small creek with a somewhat narrow opening and was astounded that I thought she could do it. The cattle were also out moving around and at the same time they were wanting to cross the same creek. We had to sit and wait until the last cow had crossed so that she could go. One cow was being stubborn and was standing in the way, facing the truck and still eating the grass hanging out her mouth. Karla beeped the horn and the cow, with a defiant posture and stern look, immediately responded with several loud moos. We laughed and laughed. I just wish I had my camera! Grandpa had driven in the field that morning checking the cows and left tire tracks across the field. She had great fun following them as they wandered across several different pastures.

Lesson 4: This time I handed her the keys to the car. Her eyes got as big as saucers. This was very different from the pickup. It sits lower, is smoother driving, the wipers are on a different lever and the lever to put the car in gear is on the console. She was sure she might hit something but took to the change with ease. She eased up to 20 mph for a few brief moments. This time after driving the pasture driveway, we went out and back the driveway. I noticed she actually turned on the signal while driving.

Karla is going to do just fine. We will have several more lessons tomorrow before she goes home. Each time we drove, I could see her gaining confidence and that she was very happy and pleased with herself.  It was a priceless privilege to be the one to share this first time experience with her. I will always treasure the memory.  I just wish I could have taped all her comments.

Ryan, who is two years younger was just yearning for the privilege of driving.  I told him yesterday that if he helped to complete the mulching job we were working on, I would let him drive. I had a very hard-working, willing worker! Where Karla was cautious and unsure of herself, Ryan was bubbling with eagerness and anticipation.

When we had completed our lesson, he hopped out of the truck and with a huge smile said, “that was awesome!”

Farm kids have a huge advantage over others in learning to drive. They are privileged to the open land and learn at a young age to drive a lawn mover, four-wheeler, motorcycle, trucks and other farm equipment. By the time they reach driving age, they have accumulated a vast variety of  experiences, including; backing trailers, maneuvering narrow spaces and different weather and terrain conditions.

I remember learning to drive. Daddy had an old stick-shift dodge truck that shifted hard that he let me roam the pastures in. It was almost impossible to put into gear without grinding at least a little.  The truck was parked in a narrow lean-to on the side of the bank barn that was on a downhill slope. I had to learn to back the truck into the shed which had about 12 inches (or less!) to spare on each side of the rear view mirrors and pull out of the shed without coasting backwards. Only those who have driven a stick shift can appreciate how truly difficult that was. I am still amazed I learned to do it without ever hitting the barn or coasting backwards.

Ryan’s Baptism

Today we rejoiced with Ryan on his baptism into the family of God and we were so glad to join other family members and Lindale Mennonite Church in celebrating this special day.

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Ryan sharing his testimony which he wrote himself. It was amazing. He said he is taking a stand for Jesus!

Ryan’s Testimony:  https://vimeo.com/130750100

“My name is Ryan Hostetter. I am going to be baptized today. I have already been baptized by my sister when I was little.  Karla saw a baptism and proceeded to baptize me with water. I want to be baptized because I want to show that I love God and want to honor Him.  I have accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and I have given my life to him.

We have all sinned and need God’s love, grace and forgiveness.  In the Bible even Jesus got baptized. We know that because it says so in Matthew 3: 4. At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John but John tried to change his mind.  I think we should honor God by all we do and say.”

That’s what it is all about.

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Gathering at the creek.

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Pastor Duane Yoder asking Ryan his baptismal vows.

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The creek is so lovely but not very deep.

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Each one knelt in the creek and they poured water over their heads. They were given the pitchers as a memorial to their baptism.

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‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

Praying over him.

“Arise and walk in newness of life”.

One happy fella!

Ryan’s baptism:  https://vimeo.com/130748614

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In his testimony, Ryan mentioned that he was baptized once by his sister. Here is my blog post about that story.

A Dear “Lorded” Baptism

Even though our worship services are usually adult-oriented, they are also a vital part of a young child’s spiritual training.  In between the wiggling, coloring, eating, pouting and playing, they hear the songs of praise, sense the spirit of worship, and observe the adults giving testimony to their faith.   Sometimes weary parents feel that it almost isn’t worth the effort to battle another Sunday until they observe their little ones at play.

Karla, almost three, and Ryan, almost one, were in the living room playing when their mother who was in the kitchen suddenly became aware of what they were imitating.  Karla had her hands cupped above Ryan’s head and she was praying in earnest…

Dear Lord….(this was followed by jibberish that her mommy could not understand)….Amen.” 

Then she carefully poured the pretend water over Ryan’s head and gently pressed her hands on top of his head.  Finished, she went to the kitchen and announced to her mother, “Mommy, I dear Lorded Ryan!”

August 27, 2006

 

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