Tuesday, December 22, 2009
In June of 1978 Don and I moved to Southern California from Michigan with three teenagers and our famous cat, Amos. Michigan – the land of ice and snow in the winter (some times up to our “you know whaties”). Christmas was a time to enjoy the cold and snow --- to toboggan, skate, make snow angels and snowmen and to feel one’s cheeks turning a bright red from the cold--- along with ice sickles under one’s nose. It was fun and what all of us had experienced our entire lives, BUT not what we were experiencing now.
Long about mid December we began to realize Christmas would soon be here, but how could that be – there was nothing but sunshine and warm temperatures, flowers blooming and our winter paraphernalia was hanging quite lonely in the closet. This couldn’t be Christmas we all decided. It was ridiculous to think of celebrating the holiday at 70 degree temperatures and even more ridiculous to think of getting and decorating a Christmas tree. We all agreed there would be no tree this year, maybe just a decoration or two.
On Christmas Eve we were around the dinner table discussing California living and getting pretty lonely for familiar things, each of us secretly wanting more of a celebration. I can’t remember who (I believe it was Dionne) finally said – “I think we should have a tree – just a little one to remind us it is Christmas. There wasn’t one descending vote --- it was about 7; 30 p.m., the stores and tree lots had closed. Kurt & Mom were elected to see if there was a tree to be had while the rest of the family (Dad, Scott & Dionne) searched for the lights and ornaments.
Off we went in my Gremlin --- it had a hatchback just perfect for transporting a tree. There was a nearby Vons Supermarket which had sold trees in their parking lot, but there were only two left and not a soul in sight. We got out of the car to inspect the trees closer (feeling just a bit conspicuous and guilty I might add) and found that it was a darling, well formed little tree. We couldn’t just take it, could we --- it would be stealing. After about two seconds contemplating the implications of a life of crime, Kurt picked up the tree, shouted “Start the car” and threw the tree in the back. Thus began our life of crime – mother & son partnering in tree-napping, but making our first Christmas in California not nearly as dismal as we had envisioned.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
May 30, 2009 - Don & Arnette
12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. I Corinthians 13:12-13
More than a few people have asked “What is it like to be married 50 years?”, and I had no immediate answer except to just shake my head, make a joke or pontificate which turned out sounding rather canned and preachy. Sadly, there are less and less marriages surviving, so it is a unique accomplishment to have reached the milestone of being wed to one person for so many years. After giving this matter considerable thought, here’s my version of what it feels like to be married 50 years to the same person. Yes, it was wonderful, yes it was not wonderful, it was boring, it was exciting, yes it was limiting, yes it was stretching, it was (and is) sweet to wake up beside each other to begin a new day. At times it seemed impossible to last another day --- but, “with God, all things are possible.” We made God a part of our marriage – I do believe it is the key to survivability in any relationship. For us it was a total gift of grace to each of us from Him.
Long ago we pledged our love to one another and promised to cling to one another “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness or in health, until death do we part” never even having an inkling of what would lie ahead for our marriage relationship. Except for the death part, we have experienced all that we promised – and we have clung to one another through it all.
During the 50 years, there is not much we were spared: health, severe illness, surgeries, mortgages, tears, laughter, struggles, economic setbacks, building a house, leaving that house to move across the country to a new and difficult situation, injustice, accidents etc. One does not live 70+ years and not have experienced a variety of life’s challenges. Two necessary ingredients in facing the difficulties were a sense of humor and an optimistic point of view.
Nothing matched the joy of the birth of each of our three children except perhaps to see the next generation in our beloved grandchildren. The pride we have felt with each of them and their spouses has been indescribable. Family is such an vital part of life—it is part of God’s design to give us happiness, completeness and purpose while teaching us how very much He loves and cares for us. Part of the maturing process has been clinging to one another through the joy and difficulties of family life while praying to make sense of the experiences, sometimes in the fullness of trust, sometimes in the agony of despair. Knowing God made the difference.
Our brothers and sisters in Christ were our best friends through the years as we laughed, cried, supported and loved one another. Life would be empty without these dear people who share a mutual goal of fulfilling His purpose. With them we looked for wisdom and guidance from God in each aspect of our lives; with them we experienced and shared the pain and discouragement along with the happiness and joy life dispensed. We are truly blessed to be a part of the family of God.
When I think about the 50 years of marriage, my heart is so full I can barely comprehend God’s goodness to us. As we have aged (not thinking it would ever happen), our relationship has become richer, more comfortable, more honest, more forgiving of one another’s short-comings – still far from perfect as we so naively envisioned. “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.” It is only after a multitude of years that we can in truth acknowledge the comfort and sweetness and yes, even the bitterness of having lived together and loved one another for 50 years. Tomorrow is uncertain as it always has been, but there is peace in knowing that He who has guided and sustained us will continue to be there for us. The King James version of I Corinthians 13 was read at our wedding and reread it at our 50th celebration from The Message paraphrase. It is God’s simple but profound take on how to love. The last verse is our prayer for us.
Trust steadily in God,hope unswervingly,
And the best of the three is love.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Saturday afternoon we all checked in at the Grand California adjacent to Disneyland. Our rooms were on the 3rd floor and four in a row. Kurt, Karen & Lane’s room connected with ours, and all of us were in and out of one another’s rooms for the whole time enjoying the closeness. Dionne & Darin had adjoining rooms with Scott, Lisa, Cooper & Luke. While we waited in our rooms, Dionne told us we weren’t allowed to leave for at least an hour, so they waited with us as did KK&L (Scott et al were a bit late in arriving). Waiting was rewarded with a lovely delivery of chocolate covered strawberries made to resemble tuxedos and HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY written around the edge of the plate in chocolate. YUM. A lovely bottle of sparkling wine accompanied the berries ---- we toasted one another and were cheered by our kids giggling and taking pictures.
About 4 o’clock, we all got fancied up for a special celebration dinner at Napa Rose (a four star restaurant). Dinner reservations were at 5:30 p.m. Dionne had requested a special place in the restaurant and they had given us this wonderful, secluded “nook” in the back of restaurant. It fit our party of 11 of us perfectly – away from the traffic and the noise (except for our rowdiness) . She also requested Sauci as our waiter (he is a samoulia and a chef as well). What a charming man he is – he made us laugh, served us well and delighted the kids and grownups without being intrusive. He even took our picture and did a great job ---. Our evening around the table began by a reading of I Corinthians 13 by Darin & Dionne which was read at our wedding, and then Don prayed for the evening and for the food.
In between the courses there was a quiz about Mimi & Pop when they were much younger – about 50 years younger. There was a question for everyone and a prize – Disney dollars for the grandkids and a mug with all our mugs on it for the older kids along with Disney drinking glasses. It was fun and funny as they learned more about us than they ever needed (or wanted) to know. Darling Cooper wrote a song for Mimi & Pop’s anniversary and sang it in front of everybody. It was quite clever for a 7 year old and went like this:
We hope you have a great anniversary.
Happy, happy, happy anniversary to you!
The grandkids each got an enormous bag full of goodies (mostly Disney stuff which we had collected and put in a Disney bag) for them to remember the event and to have fun as well --- there were a couple dozen presents which evoked lots of smile, squeels and fun for us grow-ups to watch them enjoy. Just before desert Don and Arnette shared with everybody why they loved one another --- it was a very special occasion, and we were done in a mere 3 hours (or a bit more). Time for bed as we all were exhausted from laughing, eating and enjoying each other. God is good – family is a precious gift of His love.
Sunday morning we had prearranged to meet Tracy (Dionne’s friend who works at Disneyland) at California Adventure (by the C) at 9:30 a.m. where she let 3 of us in free. Since she choreographs the Aladdin Show, we also were to meet there at 2 o’clock with VIP seating – great show. Our first ride was on California soaring – all 11 of us went in a seat which felt exactly like we were in a plane flying over various parts of California – San Francisco, Yoseminite, San Diego, orange groves etc. ending with a flight over Disneyland with Tinkerbell and fireworks. Then we split up and as the boys wanted to go to the Star Wars show across the way in Disneyland. Becoming a Jedi was certainly the highlight of the weekend for Cooper--- how totally awesome that he got picked!!!!!! His smile never left his face during all of the training. Luke, who did not get picked made us all proud by enjoying his older brother’s good fortune. They both bought Star Wars swords with their Disney dollars. We did get a wheelchair for Scott as his “dropped foot” still slows him down – a LOT. That way, we were all much more comfortable. He resisted just a little bit but in the end, I know he was glad to have the ride.
Still in CA Adventure Lane was riding the huge roller-coasters and other death defying rides with her dad, Uncle Darin & Auntie Dionne while mom watched. After we all went to Aladdin show, we decided to have ice-cream and go back to the pool to swim and relax --- it had been an eventful, delicious day, and for us there was yet another one to enjoy.
Scott and Kurt went home with their families as the kids had to go to school the next day, and Dionne & Darin stayed along with Don & me for an extra day. That evening we ate at the Story Tellers buffet --- it was delicious. Then, we meandered through Downtown Disney and found a wonderful spot to watch the fireworks. By the time they were over, we were ready for bed.
D&D’s tradition when at the Grand California is to get up very early and spend time in the hot tub followed by coffee and a cinnamon roll – we joined their tradition. Afterwards, we wandered through California Adventure and Disneyland going on a few rides, eating lunch (a giant corn dog) and strolling down main street Disney --- a nice way to wind down before our departure about 2. We were ready to be home and see our other 5 kids – Molly, Rollie, Mitzi, Rascal and Millie, the Tukutes who were being wonderfully cared for by Chad & Amy (and Spot, one of Mitzi’s puppies). God had truly blessed our little socks off ---each one of us.
This is yet another time when God’s goodness was evident. As I enjoyed this special time with all the family, my heart filled with pride and wonder at how very much they each mean to me and how very much I love each of them. It’s just a small glimpse into how very much God loves you and me. To love is to see the face of God, and once more He has revealed Himself to me in a precious way.
"For I will pour out water on those who are thirsty, And floods on the dry ground. I will pour out MY SPIRIT on your descendants, And MY Blessing on Scott, Kurt and Dionne and their families. They will spring up among the grass Like willows by the water courses. One will say, 'I am the LORD's' Another will call on the Name of Jesus, And another will write with his hand, 'Belonging to the LORD'." Isaiah 44:3-5
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands --Deuteronomy 7:9
November 8, 2003 is when the Lord called mom home. I confess I had to look up the year – I’m not good with dates – but I do know that I continue to miss her and am truly grateful for the many precious memories. I remember Momma
· Mom was fun – even as a child I had a playmate whenever I asked – sometimes I didn’t even have to ask – she had a childlike exuberance for fun.
· When I think of her with children – my own when they were little, all of her grandchildren and even great grandchildren – not to mention the hundreds she worked with as a volunteer through the years, I smile. Mom had magic with them, and they always giggled at her silliness and loved her back.
· Jesus loved the children too and said of such was the Kingdom of heaven. Mom’s love for the children was Jesus touch on their lives.
· I think of how frugal she was – she used to make our dresses from sacks that our chicken feed was packed in; our school lunches were carried in a bag recycled from the grocery store, the sandwich was stored in a used bread wrapper, but our tummies were always full
· Our hearts were full too --- we knew she loved us with her very being. I often wish I had loved her better.
· Mom was frugal way past when she had to be --- she had learned early what was valuable and important in life, and it wasn’t material things.
· Somehow mom saved enough money to make her two little daughters wonderful, long, billowy matching dresses for our piano recital – one blue, one yellow with embroidered flowers on a huge pilgrim type collar – we were gorgeous (or so we though).
· Sister Stella from the local Catholic school was our piano teacher; we were her only protestant students. At the recital we stood out among all white dresses (from their confirmations). At the next recital, color reigned.
· From time to time, I gave her a bit of a challenge (understated). As a teen I remember her chasing me with her broom to make me “behave”. My secret was to make her laugh so that she had to stop and cross her legs, and then we both would collapse in heaps of laughter and she would forget why she was angry.
· Mom was generous to a fault and when she knew of a need and could contribute, she did -- the “bums” that used to come to our door for a meal, those who had no warm clothing, the elderly or the sick who needed meals, hugs and words of encourage to the abused and so much more. She had learned to love with Jesus’ compassion.
· When I pass the entrance to her Leisure World home and think of the many times we turned in for a visit or to pick her up for an occasion I swallow hard
· When I see her friend from Leisure world, she gives me a hug and tells me that she misses mom – my eyes are again wet as I whisper “I do too”.
· Mom’s now living in her heavenly mansion that Jesus prepared especially for her.
· It was the high point of Mother’s Day when she saw any one of her family and her face reflected the delight.
· When she was expecting a visit from out-of-town family, she could hardly sleep with excitement – same went for when she visited them
· I think of the Christmas we each gave her stuffed animals -- she never had one as a child. What fun to see her open them with childlike excitement. The teddy bear in the spare bedroom was hers – I give it a hug.
· In my home office are pictures – there’s one when she was about 20 and one at 80 something – both smiling sweetly. She was a beautiful woman
· …never more beautiful to me as a child as when she was dressed in her white, sparkly grown to attend Eastern Star, the women are auxiliary of the Masons. Mom seldom fussed with her appearance – she was usually in a housedress and apron, but it took my breath away each time I saw her in her special gown – with makeup. My mind’s picture of her is as clear today as it was at 99 Madison Ave.
· For her 90th birthday party, I asked for a list of her favorite hymns, I got three sheets of hymn titles (no lines skipped). We didn’t quite make it through all of them, but it was fun trying and her face was radiant as the family sang.
· My eyes are moist when I sing of When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be, when we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory. She’s in heaven now singing praises to God for His amazing Grace –
· When I change the sheets in the spare room – (it was where she died), I remember that men from the funeral home wrapped her up in the yellow and blue sunflower sheet – it seemed fitting that it was bright and cheerful.
· She now wears heavenly garments and I KNOW she is smiling.
· My firm hope is that I will see her again when God calls me home. I too want all those we love to be there with us and continue her prayers for each of them.
· I often long for that sweet touch of her soft gentle hand on the back of mine. It meant “I love you”, “I’m praying for you”. “Everything is going to be OK”.
· I miss her especially when I need someone to pray for one of my “kids” -- she was always faithful to pray for her family, and she loved every one of them. What a privilege to have a mother who prayed.
· She totally enjoyed life both in good and in difficult times – the eternal optimist. Mom loved to laugh. The woman even enjoyed the experience of dying. She made it easy for those of us who cared for her to release her.
· Most of all in life, she valued her relationship with God and wanted so much for each of us to know Him.
· Now I can relate to how very full of longing her heart was for her own children. She never stopped wanting the very best for them, and the very best was a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
"For I will pour out water on those who are thirsty, and floods on the dry ground. I will pour out MY SPIRIT on your descendants, and MY Blessing on their families. They will spring up among the grass like willows by the water courses. One will say, 'I am the LORD's' another will call on the Name of Jesus, and another will write with his hand, 'Belonging to the LORD'." Isaiah 44:3-5
Friday, April 24, 2009
(even one year later, this is true)
Do I like it that I have reached the ripe ole age of seventy – you bet!!! Perhaps an unusual statement from the seniors in our society, but at this very moment I am on the planet by the grace and goodness of God and delighted for the very special life He has chosen for me. It feels comfortable, it feels satisfying and I intend to continue to enjoy each of the years that God gives to me. Aging is God’s plan for all of us. There is no reason that we shouldn’t live purposefully and well in the years He gives to us. Until He chooses otherwise, I am indestructible, and know that my time on earth is extended for a reason, perhaps many. A wonderful prayer and promise I often turn to is this one from Moses in the Psalms
Psalm 90: 12 - 17 “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, O Lord, how long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. Make your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor or the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us yes, establish the work of our hands.”
I am thankful and much blessed for the many relationships in my life which have given me great joy, even pain and caused me to grow. So many people have influenced me, encouraged me, tolerated me, loved me, and have put their arms around me in time of need that it would take volumes to list them all. What a privilege to be so rich in family and friends. When I began to consider what in my life I am thankful for, it boils right to God first and foremost. He said to me: “You shall be My own special treasure among all of the peoples...” Ex. 19:5b. , and then to all of the very special and wonderful people He gave me these seventy years.
My parents gave me a “God connection” and sense of family loyalty. My greatest lesson was that of self worth and confidence in who I am. Who am I? I am God’s precious child --- “He rejoices over me with singing,” and it makes me glad . . . and my precious husband, Don. I am much blessed by his love for me and how I have always felt special and cared for. As a dad he has showered our three children (and now their families) with the same gentleness and love as he has given to me. I am blessed to have a life partner that is imperfect (like myself) but perfect for me.
When I was young, a day seemed to last forever. I thought that my birthday took a hundred years to come around again – just like Christmas did. As I’ve matured, a year seems to pass so quickly, and especially now I know there are fewer and fewer Spring times I will experience. One day, I’ll be in His presence and enjoy eternity with Him. Some of you will be there too, but others of who I love so dearly have not yet decided to accept the gift of salvation through what Jesus Christ has done for us. As long as I live, I will continue to pray for each of you who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus – I want so much for you to be in heaven too.
As I age, there are times when my mind takes me into the past -- back to the “good old days.” Than I was stronger. Then, I was faster. Then I was better looking, not so fluffy (that means fat), not so tired, not so content. Then all things seemed possible. I still love living each new day. There are times when unhealthy nostalgia or the challenges of age tries to smother and extinguish my spirit and zest for today --- and tomorrow. I choose to win the battle, to enjoy and to even embrace the autumn of my life. A promise I am claiming comes from the Psalms again:
He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber... The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalms 121:3,5-8
Has my life been without challenges? Of course not, there have been many bumps a bruises, heartaches and pain along with the wonderful, happy times, and if history serves me well, I can expect more of the same. Nothing in life happens that does not go through the hands of my loving heavenly Father first – there are no surprises with Him. When we love Him, He uses all things to work together for good, and as I look back on 70 years, I see it. He is faithful, He is sufficient, He is good no matter what and He is my precious Heavenly Father who continues to provide for me and to give me joy here and now. – at seventy – I can hard wait to see what He has for me in the future..
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARNETTE, OLE GAL!!!!
Monday, March 16, 2009
reluctantly a part of the kitchen staff at Lebanon Christian Camp in North Jersey. My father was at his wits end and hoping the experience would "settle me down and do me some good". At $10 a week plus room and board in a 6-man (woman) tent no less, it wasn't a get rich quick scheme. There was a ton of fun with the other teens, long serious talks about life, a multitude of camp activities, I even earned my life guard certificate, and unique growing experiences that softened my restless heart. It turned out that not only did I work really hard, but much to my amazement, I enjoyed the summer, and as always, God had something for me to learn. Over the stinky, sweat inducing pot sink (often my kitchen clean-up assignment) hung this powerful prayer.
by Brother Lawrence
Lord of all the pots and things
Make me a saint by getting meals
And washing up the plates
Thus Brother Lawrence was able to turn even the most commonplace and menial tasks into a living hymn to the glory of God. At any moment, and in any circumstance, the soul that seeks the companionship of God may find Him.