“Who Do You Say That I Am?”

I had the privilege of babysitting my 19 month old grandson last night so mom and dad could have a break. It was a much needed respite for a mind that has been contemplating some pretty heavy stuff as of late. I made him waffles on my animal shaped waffle maker, much to his delight. We played toy guitar solos together, put together a puzzle, rode stick horses, and read the favorite Dr. Seuss book “Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You?”Then Pop Pop got the idea of building a fire in our fire pit on the back patio as the sun was setting. Such a beautiful night in the late summer of my neck in the woods. After a good 2 hours of chasing my sweet little man, I held him by the fire with his blanket and tried to get his mind off of running all over the yard. I sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “I’m Trying to Catch a Baby Bumblebee”, and any other kiddie song I could think of. If I took a break, he would promptly tell me “Again”. So singing it again was at hand. We ended up on the song “Jesus Loves Me” and I was reminded of an early toddler theology lesson I used to teach my kids when they were his age. “Hey Ben, look at the moon. Do you see the moon?” He’s quite the talker, “Yes”, he replied. “Hey Ben, do you see the star over there?” “Yes”. “Do you know who made the moon?” a pause… “God did can you say God?” He’s quite the little parrot, “God”. “What about the star? Who made the star?… That’s right God did. Can you say God did” Ben “God did”. Then it hit me the final part of the theology for toddlers lesson I taught my own babies, “Ben, do you know who made Ben?… God did. Just like the moon and stars that are so special. So are you. You are so special to Grandma and to God.” Lesson over, he says “Grass” pointing to our yard a few feet away, and a squirm, That boy wants to run in the grass. No time for this watching a fire, stars, moon, and toddler theology with Grandma. Time to GO!

I’ve started up a Bible study with a group of ladies called WOW- Women on Wednesdays. We are going through a book by The Kendrick Brothers called, “Defined- Who God Says You Are”. I’ve wanted to read this book for a few years, just haven’t had the time. A few years ago I did the video/ Bible study series so I kind of know what it’s about, a topic that is vital, especially to me. “Who God says I am.”

I grew up in church. I’m thankful for that. My parents did their best and I know they loved me greatly, but things were very hard for a lot of my first 21 years. As some would say, “There’s a lot of water under that bridge”. Mistakes were made and lessons were learned the hard way. But in the middle of all that, I believed things about God and myself that have been incorrect, and I’ve had to learn both from my own relationship with God, friends encouragement, and professional counseling for the past 4 years that I have viewed my world through distorted lenses for a very long time. Thus the need for daily reaffirmation of who I really am, who I am in Jesus.

This morning as I opened my “Defined” book it referenced a verse from the Bible that I looked up. Matthew 16:15-18. I have read that verse several times and in my Bible I had a note that I liked it in the Message version. So I looked it up there.

“He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”

A few words jumped off the page at me. “And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock.” The accounts of Peter’s life before Jesus rose again and the day of Pentecost were anything, but a steady rock. He seemed to be a jump before you think, speak with out contemplating, impulsive kind of guy. And Jesus defines him at that moment in that conversation with a definition that I’m sure puzzled him. “Peter, You are a rock. You are stable, steadfast, impenetrable, solid… ROCK. That is who you really are.” And just like I explained to Ben last night that God made the moon, the stars, and Ben all with a word. When Jesus speaks who you are, that is who you are.

I have let so much define me for so many years, but really what matters is not what my experiences have said I am. It’s not what my own feelings about myself say I am. It is what God says that I am. That is what He spoke and created in me from the moment He told me who I am, who I really am, when He created me years ago. At times I understand what this means, other times I do not. Just like my little man probably didn’t get the depth of Grandma’s toddler theology time last night. But that’s ok. He and I both have a lifetime to learn these things and an eternity to experience the truth of what God has spoken about us when He said that we are “Chosen and dearly loved” by Him.

“The Blessing”

“…And this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one with his own special farewell blessing. Then he instructed them: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite… Jacob finished instructing his sons, pulled his feet into bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭49:27-33‬ MSG

What a whirlwind this day has been! It started with a phone call from my mother in love regarding a need she had at the nursing home she is at. I quickly got around and headed there. Then it was a day of fielding calls, talking to hospice, nurses, and trying to alter her nightgowns to be more suitable for her needs. With my limited seamstress skills that was a feat. After lunch I sat at my table with my head in my hands and tears began to flow. Then it occurred to me. A trip to Hobby Lobby would help me feel better. It soothes the soul. So off I went, and I was right.

The facts of the matter is my mother in love is down to a few days. Knowing this has prompted family to come. Sisters, children, grandchildren, nieces, etc. They have come to spend some time with a woman who is very much loved. When I told her about people coming to see her, she told me weakly she was tired, and I told her I knew she was, but it’s tough being as popular as you are. The company did perk her up today. It was a good day for her.

Grandma Praying for each Grandkid individually

COVID 19 has made it hard for a family, and in this case a very large family, to spend their time with the one they love. Two by two they were allowed into her isolation room, with health screening , temperature check, escort to and from the room, and face mask the entire visit. She enjoyed her time with family in between naps and moments of being quiet. Although the restrictions have been hard on us all, I saw the most beautiful thing tonight that will mark my heart for the rest of my life, Grandma’s Blessing.

Two of my kids receiving “The Blessing”

One of the nursing home’s generous accommodations during this time of quarantine was to allow visitors to stand outside her window and talk to her through a screen. Some of her grandkids arrived for a visit there, and that is where “The Blessing” began. One by one they stuck their head in the cranked open crack and told their Grandma they loved her and bowed their head as she held a hand toward them and prayed. Grandkids ages 15-25 coming for their blessing from a woman who had sown seeds of God’s love into them from the day they were born. It was beautiful. It felt like I was watching the scene of Jacob blessing his sons, but with a southern Missouri woman’s style. Then the time came for her kids. As I stuck my head through the small crack to receive my blessing too, I thought of how blessed I have already been. Some 28 years ago our lives as mother and daughter in love began. I can only hope to be half the mother in love that this woman was to me for my son’s wives in the future. But may I, in my time raise my hand to my grandkids and proclaim, “May His favor be upon you to a thousand generations. To your children, and their children, and their children…” -(“The Blessing” Elevation worship). And may I leave an impact on my children and grandchildren, like she has on them that they would be willing to stand outside a window on a hot summer night, in order to receive “The Blessing” from the hand that held them close when they were babies many years before.

Grandma Evie with hand raised in prayer for the Generations to follow her. “The Blessing”

““ ‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭6:24-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Farther Along”

I grew up the daughter of the church pianist (my mom) and grand daughter (my grandma) of the church song leader, what they used to call worship leader in some churches back in the day. As the regular part of church worship service, someone would come prepared with a “special”. Usually a hymn or song that they sang solo or duet with someone. With all the music running through my family line, I would be asked on the regular to sing or play something on the piano. It wasn’t my favorite experience since my fingers would shake so hard on the keys of the piano from nerves. I usually had a few screw ups in each song. The small church of 30 or less would talk about how wonderful I did when I sat down. (Very generous of them)

My mom and grandma usually sang a special every week. Their voices blended smoothly as they sang songs outside of the usual congregational music, hymns, that were sang.

Frequently, they sang this song , “Farther Along” (a little differently) as a “special” when I was growing up. Since I was an “80’s Rocker” in my teen years, I didn’t really think too much about it. It wasn’t my style. Funny how things change… I often think of them singing this song now. I finally get why Grandma loved the words of this song.
I came across the verse above this morning in my Bible reading. I’ve had a hard week. My mother in love has spent this week in the hospital after a fall that broke her femur. Cancer has complicated things and we have been left with a great need for a miracle.

There has been a wide range of emotions within our family as we’ve tried to help her and be there for her the past few days. Probable one of the hardest things is not understanding why.

Suffering is hard to wrap your mind around when stacked up against the fact that God is good and He loves us. There’s been many books written, sermons spoken, and ideas expressed on the “Why?”.

I’ve had to conclude during my 49 times riding around the sun that it’s ok to not understand everything that happens on earth. I’m not God. I am finite. I don’t see the full picture. The comfort is that that when I see Jesus, I will understand. Because I will finally see Him as He is and all the secret things will be revealed. Quite honestly, when I do see Him all the things that I didn’t understand won’t matter so much any more. Because it is then that I step into the place where there will be no more pain, no more crying, no more dying, etc and I experience fully without anything holding me back, God’s love: the heights, the depths, the length, the width of its infinite bounds.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.””
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Generations Blessed

I’ve often said the happiest times of my life were each of the days my kids were born and the day I married their Dad years before. Each of those days hold those “magic” moments: watching my groom sing the love songs to me at our wedding as he stared directly into my eyes and smiled, the moment I saw my first born son as he was lifted over the small curtain where the c section occurred, Rich searching all over the hospital for a bow for our first daughter’s hair, the doctor hardly catching our second daughter because she came so fast, and our youngest son not breathing as the doctor called the resuscitation team only to hear a faint whimper from him as the doctor worked and worked on him and knowing it was going to be ok. “Magic moments” that are probably better described as “miraculous”. It’s the kind of thing you wished would just freeze in time forever, but it can’t because time just goes on.

I find myself anticipating another such day very soon.  It’s kind of hard to believe, with my genuine youthful looks and all, that in a matter of a day or so I will be a Grandma, although I believe I’ve been a Grandma for the past 9 months.  Off and on today I’ve caught myself getting a little misty eyed at the thought.  From what I’m told, it sounds like I’m headed for another “magic” moment, another time I will probably wish will stand still and freeze so I can enjoy it forever.  But I know it will only last for a short while so I need to soak it in and absorb every second of its beauty.  

It’s been around 25 year since I caught baby fever the first time and wanted to try to have my grandson’s Daddy.   I can remember wanting a baby so bad that a Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo commercial would send me into tears.  It was just my heart’s desire.  I wanted to be a mom.  

When he was born, I would rock my son, I remember thinking, “You know I’m not really a fan of the old nursery rhyme songs. I think I’ll sing him worship songs about Jesus instead.  With exception of one song, Phil Collins “Groovy Kinda Love”.  I figured it was a good song for a mom to sing to her son. 

I spent a lot of time praying for each of my kids.  I kind of felt bad because we never formally “dedicated” any of them at a church service.  But I prayed to God often and told Him how even if we never celebrated a dedication in a service I wanted with all my heart to teach my kids to love Him, to know Him, and to walk close with Him because He was and is everything.  

Now I look at my kids.  I know they aren’t perfect, but I am grateful for the journey so far.  They walk with Jesus and many of the things I have prayed for through the years are growing in them.  

Galatians 6:9 is the verse of Motherhood. I would figure it is the verse of fatherhood also, but I’m writing as a mom. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I feel like in some small way my new Grandson is another fruit of that harvest. Looking back, my mom and dad sowed seeds of faith in me, their moms and dads sowed seed of faith into them and so on and the same on my husband’s side. My grandmas invested their time sharing Jesus with me as well as pie, cakes, and cookies. I know I’ll need to get that Grandma vibe going, and from what I understand, I have joined a long line of Notable “Grandma N’s” some of which will be pretty tough shoes to fill. But I’m pretty excited about getting my chance.

Psalm 112:1-2 says, “Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” 

Every workday morning, right after breakfast, my husband and I join hands and pray for our kids and each other. Something he started a few years ago when God placed it on his heart to be the Godly leader of our family He was called to be. When we pray here lately, we’ve added our anticipated little one and the others that will surely come. “Our generations will be blessed.” That’s our prayer. I’m not asking God to give them wealth, straight teeth, and knock out good looks. I’m asking for Him to bless them with a soft, responsive heart that hears the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit calling them when they are young. I’m asking God to carry on the fire that was there years ago in the generations before us and will carry on long after we are gone. I’m also asking that in the every day life that I find myself in the baby slobbers, the baby laughs, the first steps, and the Grandma stuff I do that I soak in the blessing God has given me in the generations God gives to us, and that my children and their children and so on and so on will be mighty in the land. I know God has blessed me and with His good gifts like the “magic/ miraculous” moments ahead are meant for me to soak in and enjoy. It will only be for a moment and then time will go on. I guess that’s what makes those moments so sweet.