Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Will Rise: Grammy's Finally Home

Grammy is finally Home in Heaven. Her journey here on earth complete.

Can't imagine the excitement in my grandfather's eyes when he saw her arrive last night.

When I told M this morning about Grammy her first words were , "I bet she loves Heaven."

I know she does. While we are sad today and will miss her presence in our lives nothing compares to knowing where she is and how wonderful her Homecoming must have been with all those who have gone before her.

This song by Chris Tomlin in one of my favorites. The kids and I sing along to this all the time in the car. Hearing A's little voice sing out " I will rise" just warms my heart. It's impossible to describe the joy that comes from knowing that Heaven awaits us and by trusting in Jesus we will again "Rise".

Death has no victory.

If you don't know where you are going at the end of your life or are not sure the way to heaven check out this sight/link. Jesus is waiting for you! Both now and when your time here is done.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!! The Preschool Field Trip

A at the Butterfly Pavilion

Today was the Preschool Field Trip to the Zoo. We are blessed to live in a city with a world class zoo. Top Notch Zoo Really.

So popular in fact that people from all over the region come to visit.

April and May are Field Trip Chaos at the Zoo. There are buses and vans from school districts, daycare centers and preschools everywhere. In fact, I think last April/May I went on two different field trips to the Zoo in a two week period. The 2nd Grade trip and the 5th Grade Trip.

In three more weeks, I'll return with a 6th Grade Science Field Trip.

Now I love the zoo. I love having a membership so that I can take the kids and go for a few hours, see a few exhibits, and go home. There is lots to see and looking at the animals through the eyes of a child can be amazing. Just don't expect me to see all the animals on the same day.

Today, when I woke up and saw that it was chilly damp and threatening storms, I was a little sad. While I was sad that rain might dampen the Field Trip, there was a small part of me that was thrilled that I wouldn't be expected to trek out to Pachyderm Hill to see the Elephants and Rhinos. It also meant I could skip the hoofed animal exhibits and the Petting Zoo that freaks me out. In fact, I always make my husband take the kids into the Petting Zoo. This is a far cry from my college days when I thought I would be a rancher's wife. Now the smell and close contact with the animals wanting to eat out of my hand is more than I can stand. So much for rural life!

A had a wonderful time. The weather didn't dampen our spirits at all. We made it to all the key indoor exhibits; the butterfly pavilion, desert dome, aquarium, lions and tigers and bears (oh my) and the gorillas. We even got to witness up close a gorilla picking his nose and eating his findings. The kids roared with delight.

When the rain started right at lunchtime, we gave up the idea of a picnic and instead A ate her sandwich on the way home. All the way talking about how much fun she had. How even though she'd been 100 times, this was the best time ever.

I had the most fun watching one of A's teacher witness the zoo for the first time in over a decade. She was amazed at all the new buildings and exhibits.

I'm sure we'll be back at the Zoo a number of times this summer. We'll pack a lunch and visit the animals in the morning while it's still cool. We'll ride the train and I'll hold my nose while the kids hang out in the petting zoo all the while I'll be hoping they'll pick the Carousel instead of the Elephants.

I have a strange feeling that if we see that same gorilla next month on the 6th grade field trip and he's still picking his nose, the roaring laughter will be the same. Some humor knows no age.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Grammy with Hope

My grandmother's body is slowly shutting itself down. After almost 97 years (her birthday is May 5th), her human body has run out and she is preparing herself for her heavenly home.

I've known this day was coming for a long time. When my grandfather died, almost 15 years ago, I would not have given her 4 years.

Hospice is coming this week to help her in this transition from earth to heaven. They will make sure she is comfortable. She is ready to go, but it's still sad. It’s sad to see that the end of her life is coming not in an instant of sleep, but as the result of pneumonia and heart and kidney failure.In a way, it's a gift, this process of dying.

When I visited her earlier this week at the hospital, she was confused, agitated and disoriented. She wanted to go back to the nursing home, couldn't figure out why the Dr. never came to visit (her partner had), and why she was wearing some old ugly dress (hospital gown). It was hard to see her this way.

By Friday, it all changed. Her mind, while still confused, is now more focused on saying goodbye. She must have told me 30 times how much she loved me, how wonderful I was, what a wonderful husband and family I had, and how much my grandfather adored me. In my heart, I knew she was saying her goodbyes.

When my dad called Friday afternoon to say that this was the time to call Hospice, I was not surprised. Friday morning's visit was my gift. I had sat and held her hand, kissed her forehead and told her all about how much I loved being the only granddaughter, how I loved visiting her on the green front porch, how those afternoon naps and coffee afterward are memories stored in my heart forever.

Yesterday, I took the three kids to see Grammy, so we could say goodbye. They have been blessed not to experience death up close in their short lives. No one in our immediate or extended family has died that they knew. This is their first glimpse at saying goodbye with hope.

I told them that it was time for Grammy to go to heaven. She would see her husband and Jesus and have a body that was whole and healthy. I said I thought Grandpa Oink (my nephew's name for my grandfather) was waiting for her. He probably wondered what had taken her so long.

There were tears. A was nervous and scared and sad. She doesn't like to see people hurting or sick. M had sobs and tears rolling down her face all morning in anticipation. C was crying as he held Grammy's hand. We told her how much we loved her. She poured out blessing upon blessing to my kids: how adorable they are, how much they are growing, how smart and loved they are, and what wonderful kids they are becoming. She told C congratulations on his Eagle Scout quest. That's “the best” she said. She told M how beautiful she is becoming, no longer a little girl.

A and I stood outside for awhile and talked about how we should not be sad for Grammy. We should be happy. She's finally going home to heaven. It's a joyful time, not scary. She had asked earlier in the day that believing in Jesus means you die? No, I had told her believing in Jesus means that when you die, you get to live again in Heaven.

Death is not easy whenever it happens. At 97* she's lived a full life and has seen her sons grown with families of their own. But it's still sad to say goodbye for now.

In a way, it's a blessing that my children get to walk through the valley of death with a loved one who has experienced so much of life. I can share the reality of death without as much pain for them. I don't have to shelter them from death. There is no trauma and no fear with Grammy. It's just time for her to go to her heavenly home. That gives us all hope.

On the way home from the hospital we talked about Heaven and what Grammy will be doing there soon. I'm thinking that Grandpa Oink is waiting to play a round of golf with her. He'll probably still be hitting her tee shots so she only has to play the fairway.

John 5:24 (New International Version)24"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tech Support. Crashing. Gratitude

I have spent the last week of my life on the phone to India or otherwise known as HP tech support.

Seems like our computer encountered some fatal error and after spending hours upon hours of my life trying to revive it we (my tech support friends and I) decided on Sunday afternoon that two weeks of celebrating a miraculous resurrection were not to be and we said goodbye to our three year old HP Media Center.

I've learned quite a bit these last few days and thought I would share my experiences with you to spare you the pain and loss. When your computer crashes, you lose everything you have not backed up on a disc or CD. Really. This is not an exaggeration.
  • Three Plus years of Girl Scouts meetings; everyone in a word document. Gone!
  • Every email and email address you've saved. Especially the one about your daughter's first day of kindergarten. Gone!
  • The Excel documents you've written with Softball, Baseball and Girl Scout contacts. Gone!
  • The 12 Days of Christmas Fliers that I previously wrote about. Gone!
  • The photos you've taken and not sent to Walgreen's for back up. Gone!, Gone!, Gone!

I've not yet had the courage to go to Walgreen's and see what is there. Maybe this afternoon. Too bad I don't believe in strong alcohol as a vodka tonic might ease the pain when I open up my account.

I am not even counting all the hours since Wednesday morning that I've spent either on the phone, on the computer, or both trying to bring my old computer back to life. Gone!

Then, of course, all the time yesterday setting up the new one. Gone!

I'll never get these moments, documents or pictures back. Sure I have some of them stored on a disc, but I have lots more stored in my head and heart.

Maybe that's the lesson that impact me the most.

I can never recreate the moments that slip away that I don't bother backing up in my heart and head. Just like that hard drive in my computer, they are erased and gone for good. But I can make a deliberate step to stop that from happening in the future. I can write down the good memories, I can send my photos right away to Walgreen's, and I can invest in another hard drive to back it all up.

My husband asked me a great question. What made me so busy that I didn't send the photos right away to Walgreen's? Why did I download the memory card only to our computer?

Because I was too focused on the moments slipping away with laundry, meetings, meals to plan, cleaning to do. Not any more. These other things need to be a priority. (Don't tell my husband about the meals and cleaning part!)

I need to back up my life. I need to plan time to do the important things and let go of some of the stuff that's clogging up my time.

I'm grateful that in the end what is lost is not irreplaceable. My faith, my family, and my home are still in place. Nothing can take those away. Everything else is just stuff.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lessons from the Cross and the Course

How can I relate lessons of Easter with the Master's Golf Tournament? Guess you could say that watching the Master's Final Round on Sunday afternoon following a wonderful Easter week and a Resurrection Day spent with family, I got to thinking.

Jesus must have felt so rejected. Here he comes in triumphant on Palm Sunday with huge crowds, cheering, and waving Palm Branches at his feet with shouts of Hosanna and by Thursday it's down to 12 quietly hidden away in an upper room. Not only that, but one of those people is going to betray him, one is going to deny him, and the rest still seem confused about his mission on earth and His true Kingdom.

It's like the final round of the Masters. For the days leading up to Sunday, the crowds are evenly dispersed. They are following all the golfers, cheering for all of them, and watching in anticipation of who will pull ahead.

On Sunday the two big guns in golf, Tiger and Phil, are grouped together. Great Golfers, but not Great Friends. The crowds following them are huge. The crowds are having a great round. Phil is dropping putts and Tiger is hitting trees and making the green all at the same time. The excitement is obvious. Cameras follow their every move.

Meanwhile, 5 holes back the leader of the day and the next few in contention are having slim crowds. The stands at Amen Corner are nearly empty when they come through. An announcer says in order to win these guys will have to overcome the quiet and lack of enthusiasm.

Phil and Tiger make a play for the lead, but each falls short. Once they are done, it's like the crowd realized the leaders are still on the course and maybe they should watch. They fall back and watch .....and ..... as they trudge forward to sudden death and extra holes.

I heard an ESPN announcer say that he turned off the set when the big guns were done. What!! This is when the golf got exciting. The 18th hole, the 10th hole. In the end, the guy I was cheering for came in second. He got just missed a final putt. Inches short. No give.

It reminded me a lot of Easter. All the hype for the Big Guy (Easter Bunny) who in the end doesn't deliver anything lasting while the real star of the show, (Jesus) is trudging on towards the cross and final victory. When all his friends desert him, when they can't stay tuned in for a just a little while why he prays, he goes on and stays the course.

It's Sudden Death on the Cross and Jesus made the the ultimate move in dying for our sins and finishing strong with an amazing resurrection from the dead.

That beats any Master's Final Round Victory.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Break Trip .. We Had Fun Fun Fun Even Without the Sun.

We just got back from a visit to Chicagoland. Not exactly what you would call a tropical Spring Break Trip, but no one seemed to mind we were bundling up in winter duds instead of laying in the hot sun. In fact, until our drive home yesterday, I'm not sure we saw much of the sun, but we did see snowshowers, rain, and clouds.

Truthfully. the weather had very little impact on our plans or our fun. We had a blast and A said that everything on the trip was her favorite. I think our trip to American Girl Place might have had a slight edge over the 7 hour drive, but she "loved it all".

Hanging out with Bestemor and Bestefar was fabulous according to M and both she and A had tears in their eyes as we drove away. It's fun to watch that tradition carry on of the crying as the grandparents leave. All three kids have had complete meltdowns as little kids whenever we leave the grandparents after extended visits. Whether we've been visiting our snowbird local grandparents for a week or having the Chicago grandparents with us, there have been tears.

I think of it as storing up memories. Our visit to the American Girl Doll Place included a lovely time at the Cafe for High Tea. Bestemor treated us to a fun time and we had so much fun sharing around the little table. A was on cloud nine as she received Molly the American Girl as an early Birthday Present. I think Bestemor almost got tackled with thanks and hugs. M was thrilled to take her "Just Like Me" AG Doll to tea and for her to wear the Norwegian Bunad (native costume) that Bestemor had made for her. When we got home yesterday, A was busy introducing Molly to our home. Too Cute!!

The Boys of the group got to experience the Museum of Science and Industry and had a great time. It's times like this that I wish we had two cameras or that I could fly and be at both events at the same time. I'm not sure Bestefar, C or Dad wished they could of gone to AG, but I could easily have had fun at the museum.

One of the great memories of the trip involved C creating crosses out of the palm frans we got at Church on Palm Sunday. What a great way to take the concrete image of the Palms and turn them into the cross.

No trip to Chicago is complete, however, unless we go to IKEA and wander about. That is quite the store. I'm excited for one of the projects we brought home, a unfinished wooden frame box that you cover with fun fabric and hang on the wall. I'm already envisioning the great fabric choices for M's room.

Spring Break is winding down here quietly, and we are anticipating a wonderful Easter Celebration on Sunday. Tonight, we'll start off the Easter preparation with a Maundy Thursday Last Supper Reenactment. C and M are so excited. It's so fun to see them "get" the real meaning and significance of Easter each year.

We have Resurrection Eggs to look forward too, Resurrection Buns to make and eat, and of course, maybe a little Easter Egg coloring, too. Now I just have to dig out my cookbook to remember how to make Hard Boiled Eggs.

Don't get me started on how bad I am with "breakfast food cooking". I hate most of the items served at breakfast and as a result don't know how to cook them.
Happy Easter.