Prayer

 

Dear Father… You are patient and gracious far beyond our deserving. Let us hope for your forgiveness when we can find no way to forgive ourselves. You bless our lives even when we have shown ourselves to be utterly ungrateful and unworthy. May we be strengthened and renewed, to make us less unworthy of blessing, through these your gifts of sustenance, of friendship and family.” – prayed by Jack in Home by Marilynne Robinson

You would have to read the book to understand how beautiful and sad this prayer is.  Jack, the “black sheep” of the family prays here and it nearly broke my heart. This is the prayer I need to pray. Every. Single. Day. I identify with the ‘no way to forgive ourselves’ sentiment. And the being blessed even while ungrateful and unworthy.

Prayer doesn’t change things, but prayer lays hold of God who changes things and Who, in prayer, changes you. And sometimes in the midst of it all He gives you the assurance that your plea has been granted. – from The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis

I like that part about how God changes us in prayer. And gives us assurance.

Wonder #1

“There was a time when the world was enormous: spanning the vast, almost infinite boundaries of your neighborhood. The place where you grew up, where you didn’t think twice about playing on someone else’s lawn. The street was your territory that occasionally got invaded by a passing car. It was where you didn’t get called home until after it was dark. And all the people, and all the houses that surrounded you were as familiar as the things in your own room.” – The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years sums up my childhood in so many ways. We watched the show with our kids in the early 90s, but now I am seeing it once again with fresh eyes. I can hardly watch an episode without tearing up.

The place where I grew up was also one where we played on someone else’s lawn, in the street, in the woods. We knew most of the neighbors and I was babysitting for many of the younger kids by the time I was eleven. It was a time of Kick-the-Can under the street lights on summer nights, walking barefoot to the 7-11 on a street with no sidewalk and Trick-or-Treating without an adult, trading candy when we returned home.

We can’t go back except in memory, but we can go on. We can strive to make the years ahead “wonder” years for someone else.

FUN FACT: Winner Cooper and Becky Slater are sisters in real life

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

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Glory thought, ‘That strange and particular grace a man’s body seems never to forget. Scooping up grounders and throwing sidearm.’

from Home by Marilynne Robinson

Baseball. If ever there was a game that drew you home in more ways than one, this was it. This is it. A slice of Americana in a ball park on a summer evening. It’s the sport that takes you back to the empty fields of your childhood ala The Sandlot. It’s the slaw dogs, the popcorn, the cotton candy, and sometimes the beer. It’s the crack of the bat, the cheer, the organ. Each ballpark has its own personality, knitted together by grass and clay and bubble gum. Some might even be a Field of Dreams.

The announcers for these games seem like guys you’d want to have to dinner. Take Vince Scully for example. Just this morning my husband relayed something Scully said about Sandy Koufax in 1965: “A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts… I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world…. Sandy into his windup, here’s the pitch:Swung on and missed, a perfect game! ” (the crowd cheered for 38 seconds). There is a real connection here, a passion. Heart.

I wish more people could experience the comfort of being at a game, whether Little League or Major League; where it feels like one big family. Where little kids can run up and down the bleachers or run around the bases, where the fans come to expect the seventh Inning stretch and a round of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. There’s just nothing like it.

With the passing of Jose Fernandez, America has turned it’s eyes and hearts to baseball, at least briefly. Fernandez had only become a citizen in April of 2015, and the story of his journey to citizenship is one worth reading. And after you’ve read that, get yourself to a ballpark before the season ends. You’ll be glad you did.

Besides the ones mentioned above, here are some of my favorite baseball movies:

  • The Natural
  • Fever Pitch
  • Trouble With the Curve
  • For the Love of the Game
  • The Rookie
  • A League of Their Own

My “Collected Home”

After reading a blog post about a “Collected Home”, which you can read HERE, I decided to write one of my own. Downsizing to a smaller home has meant letting go of some “stuff” and it has not been easy. I’m sure much of that has to do with the fact that I have a “collected Home”, one full of memories and family treasures. So, I want to share some of them.

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This is something I made in college when my husband and I were dating. As you can see, it was long before the days of home computers. If you look closely, you can see that in each line I changed one letter so that it went from my full name to his full name. Cool, huh?

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This is my mother’s old Lane “Hope Chest”. It was in our garage as I was growing up, probably because a dog we had once chewed up a few corners. After we moved I painted it red using the Annie Sloan Chalk paint. Can’t wait for my mom to see it!

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My husband’s grandfather thought the lady on this clock resembled his wife, so he bought it for her many years ago. They are both gone now, but I am thankful we ended up with the clock.

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Yes, this is a bowl of dice. I used dice a lot in the classroom when I was a teacher, so I accumulated quite a bunch. The bowl was made by my son in pottery class in high school. He thinks it’s no good, but I love it because he made it!

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Growing up we had a lovely mahogany dining room table and set of chairs. I spent many afternoons on my hands and knees dusting the rungs as a kid. When my mom moved the last time she had no space for it and neither I nor my brothers did, either. So, I got one chair to keep and last year I recovered the seat.

I will do another post later with more memories from my “Collected Home”.

Throwback Thursday – The Kitchen, The Heart of my Childhood Home

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I’m not sure when this picture was taken, but I’d say around 1970. First, observe.

The guy is my older brother. Holding a banana. A healthy snack.

The woman is my mother. She had that same hairstyle for years. She always looked nice, but never complicated.

The refrigerator. Brown. For its day it was pretty sleek. I think we had the only brown stove and fridge on the street. On top of the fridge is the Pig Cookie Jar. Mom still has that cookie jar. It is a sure memento of a carefree childhood. Behind the Cookie Jar, on the wall, you see a few of those copper-colored jell-o molds. Just a few years ago I got those from my mom. They now hang in my kitchen – a reminder of times gone by.

What I notice that no one else would is the walls. They are plain white. They were not always – I remember wallpaper and baskets in that kitchen.

We ate in that kitchen every night except for when we had company or when it was a holiday. There was a lot of laughter. And there were a lot of arguments. And there were many times that I had to sit with my little brother until he ate his food. I hated when it was my turn to sit with him. He could drag it out    f o r o v e r.

When my kids came along, they, too, had many a meal there. First in a highchair; later sitting in the booth seat that hugged the wall. On holidays, that was the kids table.

I would love to hear them tell some of their memories. I’m sure they have some doozies!

Throwback Thursday – Family

I have never really known what it is to be truly hungry. In America, we say, “I’m starving” all the time, but usually we aren’t even close. I never had to worry about whether I was going to have food to eat or not. Or If I was going to have something clean to wear. Or if my family would have a roof over our heads.

My parents grew up fairly poor, with single moms. My dad’s mom was widowed when he was four; my mom’s dad deserted the family when she less than two.

I never knew my dad’s mom as she died just before I was born, so I grew up with just one grandparent.

I wish I’d gotten to know Grandma better. I’ve learned so much more about her since she died, which was over 25 years ago. I know she had a difficult life working to take care of five children. It hardened her in many ways, but I never saw that side of her. To me, she was always old and sweet with white hair kept in a bun with hair pins. She smelled of Dove soap and made great, lumpy mashed potatoes. She wore lavender dresses and sensible shoes. She never owned a home or a car and she didn’t believe man really landed on the moon. But, considering she was born the year the Wright brothers made their first flight, I imagine it was a hard thing for her to believe.

I never knew this grandfather who left his family stranded in Florida with no money. I’m still trying to piece together all the stories I’ve heard. Still wondering how he could do such a thing. And amazed at the way his life unfolded, because years after he walked away from my grandma, his second wife walked out on him, leaving him with their children.

Even though the family history is one of struggle, my parents did well. For never having known a father, they parented very capably. They did not fall back on excuses of poverty; instead they raised me and my brothers in a very comfortable home. It was a house earned through hard work and a home built with love. It was not perfect, but it was the place where I came to trust the LORD as my Savior. It’s where I still look back fondly and from where I still glean lessons.

 

 

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My grandfather, Aunt Billie, Aunt Betty, Grandma, Uncle Carter circa 1930