Friday, June 19, 2009

Memory Lane

My mom's birthday is June 1 and every year it is a challenge to come up with a gift. She doesn't need any more "stuff" inside or out. This year, my sister came up with a brilliant idea. We would all (mom & her kids) spend the weekend walking down memory lane with our mom. Gail, my sister, hosted us since she still lives in the area where we were raised. Some of us arrived Friday evening; others came Saturday morning and still others Sunday morning.

Saturday morning, Jerald led devotions about Godly fathers and fathering, which included several memories of my dad. It was a great way to start our weekend of reminiscing.
After breakfast, we all piled into a 12-passenger van that we had rented.

Our first stop was the elementary school that all 6 of us attended. After stepping into the hallway, my first-born sister commented that she believed she had stood outside every single one of those doors as punishment for some misdeed. We had fun remembering our grade school teachers, which ones we liked and which ones were mean. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures there.

Our next stop was the farmhouse that we moved to when I was 3.

On the outside it looks very much like it did when I moved out 28 years ago.

I lived there until I got married at 18. Our dad held down a day job and farmed the 70 acres in the evening with us kids helping out during the day. My farming career of driving the tractor came to an abrupt halt when I failed to go around a gully and drove INTO it. Needless to say, my dad wasn't exactly a happy camper when he got home and found the tractor there.
I remember a happy childhood of playing in the barn, making tunnels with hay bales, teasing my li'l sis, riding bike up and down the lane; but, we also worked. We mowed with a push mower, hoed corn out of the beans, did chores, cleaned, gardened, etc.
I tried to show my mom how big I remember the gardens (yes, with an 's') being, but she assured me that it wasn't quite the way I had it pictured.

This is five of us kids with mom; my oldest brother wasn't able to go until Sunday.

The cellar door- the icky, old, spooky cellar; half of it was cement flooring and the other half dirt.

The back of the house-

The shed where we parked our car (yes, without an 's') before dad built the garage on the house.

The spot where my oldest sister and her husband were married almost 35 years ago.

The amiable and very patient in-laws-

After the farm, we went to the house that my dad built- the place I was born and lived for about 3 years. My memories are a little sketchy, but pieces of it are very clear. Weird how a person can remember some things and not others. I lived here when the Palm Sunday tornadoes went through.

Our next-door neighbors were very close friends and cousins, so even after we moved a couple miles away, we came back and spent many, many hours playing in these woods.

The kitchen looks about the same.

The couple who live there now (the daughter of my dad's boss) so graciously opened their home and hearts to us. They added this awesome sun room that looks out over the woods. Tranquility...

Our next stop was the church that I attended with my family before getting married and the cemetery next door where my dad was buried 21 years ago.

Don't even ask how we got inside...

The four of us

My sister, Gail, and her husband. Thanks to all her planning and hospitality, we got to experience a wonderful weekend.

On December 22, 1987, my dad was killed in an accident on his way home from work. I still miss him, acutely at times; but I am so thankful for the heritage he left. I do not remember him saying an unkind word about anybody, even though he would have had plenty of opportunity. He was strict, but loving, fun and funny. I hate it that my own kids will never get to experience his teasing and humor. I often wonder what he would have to say about all this gb turmoil; I think I know because of the character he had.

The same pump (probably the same cup) I used as an excuse to skip church and be outside.

From the church, we drove around on familiar roads, talking, remembering, laughing and ending up back at my sister's just in time for dinner. Her son and his wife fixed, served and cleaned up dinner for us.

My youngest sister had to go home Saturday night and my brother and his wife joined us on Sunday. After a relaxing morning of conversation and coffee and another yummy meal, we went to the farm where my mom lived from 1st grade to marriage at 16.

The people who live there now

My mom used to walk to this little two-room school. It had a wall right down the middle with the classroom on one side and the gym on the other.

It was an amazing and fun weekend together. Mom decided that it was one of the best birthday gifts she had ever received. And now, waiting for next year...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Now that summer is right around the corner, I will blog about the thoughts that have been rumbling through my brain for the last two months.

There are two things I clearly remember from my childhood: spring cleaning and fall cleaning. I was raised in an era when in order to be a successful housewife one must completely purge the home twice a year. I have to admit that, as a child, I hated those times of completely emptying the rooms, taking down all the drapes, clearing off all the shelves and washing everything- and I mean everything! My absolute least favorite job was washing down the walls and ceiling. I remember liking the end product- the smell of clean, the organization, the freshness- but not the journey it took to get there.

Recently, (a couple months ago now), I was going through this spring cleaning process in our closet and I got to thinking about my spiritual closet- my heart. I don't enjoy the process of cleaning out my heart, but the end result of sweet communion with my Jesus is indescribable. This process is much like cleaning out my own closet- examination of what's in there, pulling out the ugly, the unusable, decluttering, sweeping out the dust, dirt and cobwebs and allowing only beautiful things inside.

God wants to lovingly lead me to focus on the several bad habits that have piled up, the cobwebs of sin and rebellion that have been woven, the dust of unconfessed hurt and anger. These things have wintered in my heart and it's time to do some spring cleaning. When I allow the Spirit to convict and let God lead me in confession and repentance, I feel like my newly cleaned and organized closet. Getting rid of my unwanted habits and sin will leave me with a peaceful and joy-filled heart. I no longer have to search through the dirt of depravity, looking around the dust and stench of decay. I now enjoy the fresh scent of pleasing God in all I say, do, think and feel.

With summer on the way, now seems like a good time to meditate on one specific area in this quest of purging the heart. My church has given me a wonderful starting point to the topic on my mind. What a blessing it is to fellowship with a body of believers who think the heart is what matters. The following excerpt was in several of the recent bulletins:

"SUMMER PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE--Ladies, are you aware you can serve your brothers in Christ simply by the way you dress during summer months? We encourage you to consider this at all times, but especially as we gather together to worship. What a gift to men if they do not have to fight the battle of the eyes and mind when they gather with their sisters in Christ! We praise God for your desire to see Jesus magnified!"

Why do we even need to be reminded of this? Do we truly not understand that when we cannot even bend over without exposing a part of ourselves, we make the struggle ten thousand times worse for our brothers in Christ? Or when we show enough to distract the mind from glorifying Christ to lusting, we are the cause of sin in another believer? What goes through our minds when we stand in front of a mirror and analyze our clothing choices? Why are we Christian ladies reminded of this over and over and over and we still expose ourselves? I do not believe we can claim ignorance any longer. We have been taught enough; I am now without excuse and so are you. Maybe we should come at this from the negative aspect: what is immodesty?

Immodesty- indecent, shameless, vain, not properly restrained, boastful, arrogant.

Our source of rebellion in this area is not from the culture around us or the standards of the world. (It's easy to look around and think that at least we dress more modestly than "they" do- that is still rebellion).

The source of our rebellion lies deep within the hearts of each one of us.

If your heart is lacking peace and joy, perhaps it's time to do a little spring cleaning.