As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Five on Friday

What does one say that has not already been said during these unsettling days of  COVID-19? 
But here we are. And here are five things that have been a part of our week . . .
(And I really did write these on Friday, even though I didn't finish the post until late early Saturday morning.) 

{one} change

So many changes. And even the changes change daily!

No groups of more than 150 people. No groups of more than 50 people. No groups of more than 10 people! (We can't even have a family dinner!)

No church meetings or activities. (We had a midweek Bible study via email. This Sunday's sermon will be online.) ESL classes are cancelled through the end of the semester. Restaurants are closed, so no coffee times with friends. My grandchildren's extracurricular activities have come to a screeching halt.

Ron is now working from home.

{two} disappointment 

We are not the only ones who have faced disappointment this week! Nearly everyone has been touched by altered and/or cancelled plans, loss of income, loss of dreams. Things are not turning out as we had hoped.

A big source of disappointment for our family this week was the cancellation of Kati's baby shower. We were all so excited to be celebrating this much-loved, much-wanted first baby! The shower was scheduled for this Sunday. As late as midweek, we were altering the plans, finally landing on an "open house" style shower here at home to limit the number of people gathered at one time. But in the end, Kati and Andrew decided that it was too risky to fly. My mama-heart was sad . . . that Kati can't spend the week with us, that we can't celebrate this first baby in the exciting way that we had planned, and that my own "baby" was sad.

{three} beauty

Yes, beauty was also a part of our week. In spite of the very necessary measures we are taking to self-isolate and slow the spread of the virus, I believe it is necessary to continue to notice, to appreciate, and to create beauty in our world.

{four} gratitude

 In spite of the challenges, it is important to thank our God for His blessings.

In everything give thanks; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
(I Thessalonians 5:18)

We are so very grateful that Kati was able to come home for her grandmother's funeral a couple of weeks ago. It was a rather short trip, but we were able to have some to gather as a family . . . both with extended family and friends at the funeral, and also with "just the twenty of us" as we told stories, looked at family photos, ate pizza, and felt Baby Caleb move inside Kati's tummy. While she was home, the four of us also enjoyed some down time and some good meals and a two-night game of Phase 10. She was also able to visit her Gammy and Gampy.

When we said good-bye that morning at the airport, there were no tears. Instead it was "See you in a couple of weeks!" Who knew?

God did. And He had given us the precious gift of time.

We are also grateful that we are back in our bedroom. It is nearly finished (shutters are in the works and then I'll show you) and we love it. But our gratitude this week is mostly about the timing of it.

It kind of goes like this: If the flooring company who came to measure our space and give us an estimate had followed up with said estimate, then we wouldn't have been talking about our frustration over dinner. If we hadn't been frustrated that evening, Ron may not have remembered that our neighbor, Mark, installs hardwood floors. If we had not texted Mark's wife Paula to see if Mark still did flooring, then Mark would not have come the next day to measure our space and give us an estimate. As it was, Mark was available later that week (while Ron was still on vacation), and so we painted, painted, painted to be ready for the flooring to go down. Oh my goodness, Mark did an excellent job; he is a true craftsman! The floor was installed in two days and we moved our furniture back into our bedroom over the weekend . . . just in time for us to put the guest room back together and be ready for Kati to sleep there later in the week.

What about that timing? (If we had waited for the big flooring company, we would not have had the guest room ready in time for Kati.)

Sneak peek at the remodeled master bedroom . . . 

and the guest room put back together.
(As you can see, Mansie can be happy on either bed, preferring the one on which the sun is shining.)

We are also grateful that Ron is able to work from home and that his job is stable.

We are grateful for a comfortable home in which to be "socially distanced."

We are forever grateful that He is our Rock!

🎜 On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand! 🎝

Because even if the sand is sinking all around, if He is our Rock then we are secure. Free from trouble or disease or distress? Not necessarily. But secure in Him and sure of His care for us and sure of the gift of eternal life! If we have acknowledged our sin, and accepted Christ's payment for it to make us right before God, then we can know that we are His!

{five} grace

Grace for the day is my prayer during these hard times.

Sometimes, it is too much to try to look ahead and plan and imagine and guess and prepare for an uncertain path. So I pray, Lord, please give me grace for this day. Please direct our steps this day. Please help us to make wise choices this day. Please help me to serve others this day. Please help me to walk in your Truth this day

Do you know His grace? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Wednesdays With My Mother-in-Law

Wednesdays are going to feel very different for a while.

My mother-in-law passed away last week at the age of 92. As I have said to so many people who have lost loved ones, I don't think we're ever "ready" to say goodbye to one we love. 

Mom had enjoyed remarkably good health in her lifetime, up until last fall when her heart began to fail. We were blessed to have nearly six more months with her. 

I will treasure the days that I was able to spend with Mom during the last months of her life. 

That time was a gift. 

Oh yes, I know it was a gift to Mom to be well cared for by her eight children and their spouses, enabling her to remain in her home until the end. But that time was also a gift to us!

There is just something about knowing that time is short . . .

Wednesdays became my day to spend with her. And along with simple things like giving her meds, preparing lunch, doing the dishes, and sweeping the floor, there was plenty of time to talk.

I learned so much! 

We talked some about her own childhood, about her father who was a small farmer and her mother who worked outside the home to make ends meet. She told me about her older brother and her younger sister and some of their adventures around the farm. She told me how she started preparing meals for her family when she was only nine or ten years old. She would come home from school and her father would kill a chicken, they'd clean it and dress it, and she would cook it for their supper. When her mother had another baby, she quit school to care for her baby sister. 

One Wednesday that I was sitting with my mother-in-law, I happened to look over at her china closet while we were eating lunch and I noticed the cake topper from their 50th wedding anniversary. My mind went back to the celebration of their fifty years and I said to her, "Mom, that doesn't seem like that long ago!" She agreed, and as we continued to talk, we realized that that very day was the date of their anniversary, and that they were married exactly 75 years ago that day! 

She did a little reminiscing about the day they married . . . how they had gotten married in the afternoon, then went to Dad's sister's house for dinner, and then went to a movie. I asked her if she remembered anything that they ate at Irene's house. She said couldn't remember everything, but she remembers having macaroni and cheese. Well, guess what I had brought her for lunch that day (even though I usually brought some kind of soup)?! Yes, macaroni and cheese! So we had a little anniversary celebration there that day!

She then went back even further to that first day that she saw her future husband. She was 13 or 14 years old and he walked through her house with a friend (they were looking for another friend) and she took notice of him. "I liked the way he looked!," she said.

Indeed she did! And a few years after that, he took notice of her and the rest is history!

She told me about decisions they had made. Mom wanted to be at home with her children, and Dad wanted that too. But money was tight and one day she had applied for a job in a school cafeteria. When Dad learned about it, he told her that she didn't need to do that, and he decided that they would move to the country and buy a small farm so that she would raise chickens commercially for income.

She talked the most about her children. As we sat in the family room, she'd look up at the large photo of herself with her eight children taken a few years ago and she would tell me about each one . . . when they came to see her each week, what they did, what their talents and accomplishments were, stories from their childhoods. Mom was so proud of her large family and she'd say, "Not everyone has a nice family like I have," and "They've all been so good to me." 

I was relieved when Mom told me (several times) that she liked our new house and that she understood why we had moved away from The Farmhouse (which adjoined family property and was just down the road from her). I suppose we always desire our parents' approval, no matter our age. (And I considered my mother-in-law my parent too. I had promised Ron on our wedding day, "Your people will be my people, and your God, my God." ~ Ruth 1:16)

Some Wednesdays, the time would fly by. On some, the hours would pass slowly. But the time was always well spent. Looking at photos on my phone. Rubbing medicated lotion on the rash on her back while she oohed and aahed about how good it felt. Sharing a Bible verse. Talking about the many cards she received those last months. (Oh, how she loved those cards!) Commiserating with her when she did not feel well. Tucking the covers around her when she lay down for a nap.

My mother-in-law had a Leap Day birthday. She had requested that her eight children and their spouses come and have dinner at her house, using some of the food in her pantry and freezer. We gathered, per her request, but she was too weak to get out of bed that evening, so we all gathered in her room before the meal. She asked the blessing on the food and as she prayed she said, "Oh God, you've been good to me." We sang Happy Birthday to her, then we sang a few songs together, and when we sang "God Is So Good," she sang along. What a precious memory!

In less than 36 hours, she gently passed on into eternity. 

I am so grateful that we had the gift of time . . . time to talk, time to care, time to give, time to love. 

No, Wednesdays will not be the same now. 

But I am the richer for those I spent with my mother-in-law. 

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