Cousins

Simpler days spent
Playing outside
Soaking up the sun
Only after hearing
My most recent
Piano/violin solo
As you
Recently
Reminded me
You were a good
Though reluctant
Audience
Do you remember
Digging in the dirt
Under the big oak tree?
Silly childhood thoughts
Making mud pies
Digging to China
Swings and slides
And downhill
Wagon rides
Playfully pushing each other
Off of Grandma and
Grandpa’s front porch
The winner
To be named
King of the Mountain
The subjects
Now laughing
In the grass below
Hours of kickball
On the gravel road
Many heated arguments
Was the runner safe?
The ball out of bounds?
Problem-solving
A few skinned knees
Fights and tears
Hugs and laughter
We learned to be friends
First friends
Cousins

Cousins sitting on Grandma and Grandpa’s front porch. 🙂

No Pictures

I love pictures. I have loved them since I was a little girl.
My Grandma Mahar had a round metal container with a tight-fitting lid. I believe it was ivory-colored with gold stripes. But more importantly, it was full of photographs.

I would sit at her dining room table with this treasure box, take off the lid, and spread out the pictures. There were old snapshots, mostly black and white. There were also old school photos of my mom and her siblings.

Thumbing through the photos was like taking a trip back in time. Seeing the old cars, the clothes they wore-reading the notes written on the backs. Thinking about it now makes me smile. I can still see the container and some of the photos in my memory.

My love of pictures readily transferred to adult life, particularly when I became a mom. I know there are times my kids have rolled their eyes upon hearing once again, “Hey guys, we need to take a picture!” Of course, my next line made them smile. “Act like you like each other.”

This past weekend was our oldest son’s wedding. They had prepared a couple of decorative signs to greet guests as they entered the venue. One politely announced that the ceremony was to be “unplugged.” The idea was for guests to put away their phones and just be present in the celebration. So that’s what we did-no photos.

I started thinking about that fact this morning. And even though I love looking at and taking photos, I’m so glad I was “unplugged” for their ceremony. What a joy to be in the moment. Listening as they repeated their vows. Watching them smile and giggle, so happy to be starting their life together.

I will be anxiously awaiting the professional photos from the wedding. I’m even thinking about starting my own container of photographs. Who knows, maybe someone else would enjoy spreading pictures all over the dining room table with me. I can always hope. 😉

Imagine this lid on a deeper tin. That’s what held my Grandma’s treasures. ❤

Just What I Needed

“When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.”

Words from a hymn I’ve known since childhood. Words I’ve heard twice this week in a newer version of the song. The rhythms and melodies were new, but the words remained the same. A combination that evoked a much-needed sense of peace and rest.

The first hearing brought back memories. The second hearing brought the realization of just how much I needed to remember.

Yesterday, I received my second steroid spinal injection. I’m happy to report no fainting this time. Whew! However, it left me feeling anxious and restless. And though extremely tired, unable to sleep.

My evening became a cycle of panic, no sleep, and tears. The thought of my 5:30 A.M. alarm loomed. Followed closely by the thought of teaching school after only three-four hours of sleep. All I could think was, extra coffee!

My morning classes were surprisingly successful! Time with students and teacher friends seemed to help my energy increase. Even my fifth-grade class after lunch was acceptable. 😉

But then, my energy began to fade. I could feel myself hitting a wall. How in the world would I make it through physical therapy after school? For a few seconds, I considered canceling. After all, I just had that injection yesterday. Surely they would understand.

But when I got in my car, there was that hymn again. I smiled and began to sing along. On this second hearing, a new phrase stood out; “Weak made strong, in the Savior’s love.”

So I headed to physical therapy, my energy starting to return. A bottle of water and a protein snack pack may have helped a little. It helped my body anyway. But it was the music that lifted my spirit.

Therapy left me with a feeling of restored purpose. And though I walked away tired, it was a good tired. A tired that reminded me of the importance of taking care of my physical body.

All of this from the simple words of a new/old hymn. A hymn I heard twice in one week. Reminders of love, strength, and grace. Old words combined with new music to provide just what I needed.

Grandma’s Piano

The image remains
Though faded
Old and upright
Tall, black, majestic
Eighty-eight keys in a row
Sitting on the bench
Beautiful patterns
Come into focus
Two-three-two-three
A perfect guide
For little hands
Learning to play
Roll knuckles up
Tap twice
Repeat
Roll knuckles down
Tap twice
Repeat
I dropped
My dolly
In the dirt
A love that began
With simple melodies
Played on ivories
Prominently placed
In Grandma’s
Dining room
How I wish
I could play
Those simple melodies
One more time
For my Grandma
On her old piano

Comfort and Joy

Today is Christmas Eve, 2019. That does not sound possible. As a child growing up in the 1970s, the year 2020 was hard to fathom. And yet, here we are.

This time of the year causes me to reflect. I remember Christmas Eve parties at my Grandma and Grandpa Mahar’s house. Surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sharing our favorite snacks and sweet treats. Drinking lime sherbet and ginger ale punch. Those were beautifully simple times.

Added to those memories are the ones of my own children growing up. Christmas programs, music, opening presents, traveling to visit grandparents. Now they are grown. I wonder what parts they will remember in twenty years.

This year, we are hosting Gart’s side of the family on Christmas Day. They will gather in our home tomorrow. We have some new faces in our family. More people to love, to help heal the holes left by those we miss.

Although my Christmas reflections are predominantly happy, I recognize that is not the case for everyone. Many have faced unspeakable tragedies. Ones that do not simply vanish with time.

I want those friends to know it is ok to be sad, even amid celebrations. I should not expect them to just put on a happy face. And I hope they are not afraid to share their grief.

A friend recently shared the following verse with me.

“You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not recorded in Your book?” Psalm 56:8

The image of God collecting my tears in a bottle was powerful and comforting. On this Christmas Eve, I pray that thought brings you comfort and joy.

I also want to share some of my favorite carols. These are my own simple arrangements. Hope you enjoy! Merry Christmas! 🙂

Beautifully Imperfect

I have a favorite photo of me and the kids. I remember the day it was taken. It was quickly snapped by a friend, not the result of a professional photoshoot.

Look at those sweet faces! ❤

Everyone is looking in different directions. We are tired and messy. And yet, it remains my top pick.

The picture always surfaces this time of year. When I saw it this morning, I began to think about what it represents-an honest reflection of one day in the life of a young, stay-at-home mom.

That particular day was far from perfect. I remember having a migraine earlier that afternoon. The medicine I took made me sleepy. I also remember my husband, Gart, was not be able to attend the fall festival with us. He had a graduate school class that night. That meant I had three kids to get ready for the evening festivities by myself.

With the help of some friends, we made it to the party. Everyone had a costume. Robert was Superman, Rachel-Tigger, and Ryan-a baby bumblebee. The kids had fun playing games, spending time with friends, and collecting candy. If you look closely, you can see their candy buckets hanging on the handles of Ryan’s stroller.

My friend took the picture at the end of the evening. I remember collapsing onto the floor. The kids just naturally settling in my lap. Three tired kids and one tired mom. Yet in the picture, I am still smiling.

After considering the story surrounding my favorite photo, I am left with this truth: A perfect picture has more to do with the memories it evokes than with the image itself.

Our picture is beautifully imperfect. It reminds me of a busy and challenging time in my life. A time I would not trade for all the perfect pictures in the world.