Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Gift of God

The Gift of God

Well, I’m finally back in Blogland.

Sorry I haven’t written for so long, but life has been so exciting lately…
We just got back from visiting our first-born son, and celebrating his college graduation (Hons. B.A. Degree in Graphic Arts).

My plan this month was to write something for Mothers’ Day, and I know I missed the "Day", but here goes, anyway -
My impressions - or should I say, my rambling soliloquy on motherhood:

As I grew up, I observed my Mom, lovingly and conscientiously pursuing her career as a Full-Time Wife and Mom, and seeing the joyous fulfillment she derived from her every day life, I was inspired to follow in her footsteps. ("That everyone that may eat, drink and find enjoyment in all his work. This is the gift of God." Eccl 3:13).
Even as young children, she always set this high standard before my sisters and me - "Be kind and compassionate to one another, always forgiving each other in love, as God in Christ forgave you."(Eph 4:32) and has always tried to exemplify it herself.

As a little girl, I was always fascinated by watching my Mom, wash clothes and put them through the wringer, and was so excited the day she finally decided I was old enough to use that red-handled contraption myself!
And then, to watch history repeat itself ... About twenty - five years later, my little girl (then three years old ) watched me "playing around" with the laundry, and announced, one day, "When I am big, I do de washing like you!"
Well, now she is "big" (20 years old) and she does de washing in the coin-operated Laundromat of her apartment ("coins" being the operative word). But she’s discovering (since like most of us girls, she has countless separate loads to do) that this "laundry business" could send a girl sky-rocketing into major debt!

The following are two stories on motherhood - the first involves me as a sixteen-year-old and my Mom (and, yes I was a teenager, once - back when dinosaurs roamed the earth - according to my kids!).
The second involves me as a Mom.

The scene is the Juniors’ section of a major Department store in Dublin, Ireland.
The date - circa 1968!

I coyly emerged from the fitting room, in a pretty wild flowered pink gathered mini dress. One look in the mirror, and I was sold! There was nothing else I wanted to see!
But naturally, my Mom was not convinced. She kept insisting that it looked "cheap", and assured me that when I got older, and got a job, I could buy as many mini dresses and skirts as I wanted (with my own money!)
The sales assistant, of course, was on my side - declaring that the dress was a perfect fit; it was fabulous, summery and had "fun" written all over it (not to mention MINI!)
So eventually, my Mom caved! After all, who could go against an eager sales girl and a sixteen-year-old?

But, as we stood waiting at the bus stop, (my treasured prize in hand, in the shiny blue and white striped bag) my Mom kept lamenting the fact that she had not put her foot down, and insisted on the much more classy and sophisticated (and definitely much longer) blue dress.
But I was completed elated with my mini, and proudly modeled it around the house all evening!

But much to my disappointment, the next day, while I was at school my Mom marched resolutely back to the shop, and exchanged the pink dress for the blue one.
But, as it turned out, my Mom was right - the moment I tried that angelic blue dress, I loved it! (And, actually, I did end up shortening it a little bit, but when you’re only just five feet tall, what are you gonna do?!) I wore it for years, and got copious compliments!
And the future unfolded just as my Mom suggested - once I got a job, I bought mini dresses galore, and loved every one of them!

And now that I’m a mother, I’m really glad my Mom took the pink dress back, so that she could have the pleasure of being the "Mom" once more , before I completely grew up. And today, as a ninety-five year old Grandma, she still has a photo of me, in that sweet little blue dress, on her dining room mantle piece.

And now, my own Mom story:

One warm Turkish evening, in the Summer of 1989, when my children were very small, (6 months, 3, 6 and 8) we were busily rounding up all the tricycles and outside toys for the night. My husband had flown back to the States for a 6 - week Air Force training; so I was trying to play Supermom (or should I say Survivalmom!)
(We had given our little three-year-old boy an adorable yellow plastic Volkswagen pedal-car the previous Christmas. Well, he traveled far and wide in that little ORV - over the sand hills, around the play area, along the jogging path and across the soft Spring grass).
But I suddenly noticed, there was no yellow car in the mix. So I asked him, "Where’s your car?" to which he promptly replied,
"It down de bark!" And with great gusto - "Mikey take it - I say, "NO!"
So we all trooped off - Mama bear and her little bears - down to the park, in search of the precious yellow car.
And, sure enough, there it was, grounded in the sandy play area - with childish fingerprints on the steering wheel and sand on the seat - along with several unclaimed colorful buckets and spades, lying haphazardly around ...
So Mikey had taken the VW all right, but had politely left it in "de park" for his little friend. I mean, what little boy would not have been tempted to park it in his own driveway? - the latest VW model in yellow plastic with silver foil trim ...
So we trundled the beloved vehicle back to its home at "229b Bergama", knowing we could all sleep in peace that night!

Well now that our little three year-old has grown up, I will forever treasure the memories of that cute little munchkin voice, his blonde floppy hair and the big gumdrop eyes! And it’s not just memories, but the memories of the memories ... the retelling of the stories...and the smiles they beget around the dinner table, or some special family event...

As I mentioned before, my ultimate ambition was always to become an F.T.W. and M. But on the way to that, I pursued my passionate desire to study music and hopefully teach; but I also had an interest in Nursing as a career (big dilemma!).
Well, after teaching piano for a couple of years, God sent an amazing man, who was to be my husband, and later, God, in His gracious love, gave us four unique, fun, challenging and interesting children.

So the dilemma turned out to be a "non-issue", since I found myself in the supremely rewarding role of Teacher, Nurse, Wife and Mother, to the people I love most!
HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY - every day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009



Happy Valentines Day!

What does it really mean to love someone?

L earning as much as possible about them.
O ffering them what you’d like to keep for yourself.
V ery happily accepting them as they are.
E ntering into their world , and seeing things from their point of view.

Think back to the first time you told your husband / boyfriend you loved him. The chances are (if, for you, that was long enough ago to make history,) you know a lot more about love today.
Remember, back then, how love seemed like a never- ending river of chocolate; red velvet hearts and music from the "Magic Flute?"
But, once you got married, you realized that love is, "for better, for worse; in sickness and in health …"
I think, achieving that self-sacrificing, forgiving, "not keeping a record of wrongs" kind of love (1Corinthians 13) is a life-long learning experience. Maybe that’s why the marriage vows are worded "till death us do part."
Back in the 70’s, my husband (then boyfriend) used to give me those little porcelain "Love is" figurines as gifts. We always thought it was fun, composing our own captions for them. For years, my favorite one has been "Love is when he brings you breakfast in bed on Sunday morning." That is until a couple of weeks ago … My latest one now reads, "Love is when he pays for you to go to your first Christian Writers’ Conference!" (Trust me, it was awesome - I didn’t come down off the "high" for three days! But more about that later.)
Lately, I’ve been studying 2 Peter:1. Peter has a comprehensive list here of all the qualities we need to add to our faith (v.5-7). (Faith is a given, since he is writing to Christians.) We need to add goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and last of all - the ultimate - LOVE.
Do you think Peter is saying that we need to acquire all of these attributes in order to practice Biblical love?
If we compare Peter’s words to Paul’s list of the components of love in 1 Corinthians 13, they are very similar.
Paul says love is basically all of the above plus more - "Love is patient; not rude, envious, self-seeking or easily angered; always protects, trusts and hopes and never fails." When it comes to faith, hope and love, Paul says, the greatest, (but also the hardest, I think) is love.
So much for the chocolate river!
But getting back to Peter’s letter, think of how far this fisherman had come.
We see him in John 18 denying Jesus three times; then we meet him in John 21, enjoying a fish barbecue on the beach with Jesus and some other disciples. This is where Jesus challenged him by asking him three times, "Do you truly love me? " Indignantly, Peter
replied, "I do."
"Then , let your work match your words, " said Jesus. "Feed my sheep."(paraphrasing)
Well, Peter went on to do amazing things in the New Testament. In Acts 2, after he preached to a crowd, 3000 people were saved; he healed a crippled beggar; he wrote two Epistles, etc. thus proving how he surely knew that love involves work.
And isn’t it interesting that Jesus says the two greatest commandments involve love?
1. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind."
2 "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt 22: 37-40)
Perhaps Jesus also meant that they were the two hardest commandments. Obviously, if we’re going to love God with every compartment of our heart, soul and mind, it involves keeping all His other commandments - not committing adultery, lying, or stealing, loving our enemies etc. - in other words, loving our neighbor as ourself.
It is only with the power of God working in and through us that we can practice this level of love.
Thirty years ago, my husband and I had the words "The greatest of these is
Love" (1Cor.13:13) printed on our wedding reception napkins (and naturally we kept one as a momento.)
Today, I can’t quite put my finger on that napkin, but I’ll always know where I can find the love!