A quick thought for this Wednesday because there is more rain in the forecast and I hope to get a walk in before work and on top of that…miles to go before I sleep….so right to today’s little musing.
There is a lot of talk and training available these days about finding or being a mentor.
All good, all necessary…but as I think about mentors in my life, I have to tell you most of them came about organically and unplanned.
Oh, prayed for…for sure…
but nothing formal was set up.
One of my mentors probably didn’t even know she was a mentor to me.
I never sat in a coffee shop or met her for lunch.
If you added up the hours we spent together they would not come to enough to take up even an entire day.
Yet I have numerous notes jotted in my Bible from things she said to me.
I have an index card with a powerful spiritual principal diagrammed and dotted with Scripture to support the concept that I keep in my Bible and have referred to as one of the greatest teachings on prayer I ever received.
I have a photocopied booklet of about ten pages with Scripture written into prayers for various topics included missions and church leaders, the government, my family and assorted other needs that she got from some ministry and told me she had permission to share with anyone.
I have photocopied that and given it out to so many and they have done the same.
Do you know how she mentored me?
I would see her gathering discarded bulletins from the pews as people made their way out of church on Sunday morning and I would stop and say hello.
“Oh kid!’ she would say with so much joy she almost glowed, “Let me tell you what God did recently.”
Waving the handful of crumpled papers and leaning on the pew in front of her, she would then recount some beautiful thought that came to her as she was studying her Bible that week, or some amazing thing God had done for her or for someone else, or something she saw outside her window or driving that God had used to take her breath away.
She mentored me by loving Jesus with all her heart, mind, soul and strength.
By soaking up as much of Him as her time allowed, she overflowed the blessing of being in His Presence on me and on anyone else who happened to be blessed to have a minute of time with her.
I just saw a quote by Kelly Minter that said we should study our Bibles for the sake of others.
Yes, we need it for ourselves.
But out of the overflow of the heart spent in the Presence of the Lord, there is a sweet, blessed and lasting ministry of love <3
Well, we had a wedding this weekend and also managed to cram in a whole bunch of life and love and family and such in around it.
It is way more than I could possibly put into words worth reading on this second “Monday” of the last week of May, so here is us, cleaned up and looking our bestest and then I am going to kick off this short week with a story of how last Thursday went down.
Because we had a rough start, to say the least.
I was up north for the day and Joel seemed particularly sad that his mommy had headed off to work.
He went and got a blanket and pillow and all the stuffed animals he could haul in one trip and set up camp on the family room floor.
I just assumed he was tired and extra sad because his daddy was out of town and mom had worked a full day Tuesday as well, so I just gave him his space.
A short time later, he produced evidence….literally…that he was not just missing his parents but was also harboring a virus.
A virus that he released on the carpet just a few feet from the tile floor….so I cleaned up the first of several messes and set about tending our little guy whilst keeping his sister from bodily injury as she seems to climb on everything and is attracted to all things potentially dangerous.
It was a long day, and the poor little guy was just miserable.
After the boys got home from school, I sent them outside to play and hopefully avoid whatever Joel was sharing with Caroline who would.not.stay.out.of.his.face.
I would run to the door to check on them between hugs for Joel, switching loads laundry and pulling Caroline off of tall furniture and away from her beloved JoJo.
At one point, Graham called in from the garage to let me know a school friend had ridden his bike down to shoot baskets.
I went out to confirm with his buddy that mom was aware of his visit, when Joel appeared at the door calling for us.
I found him sitting on the step, asking if I could get Landon’s attention so he could tell him he was sick.
Have I mentioned before that Joel is my Achilles’ Heel?
I don’t know what it is about the combination of his face and personality, but the little guy melts me to putty.
I was not sure how much sympathy this second grader was going to be able to muster, but I asked him if he could come see Joel and God bless him, he did.
With raw tears forcing him to strain to get the words out, Joel spouted out in two short sentences the account of his battle with the flu that day.
I held my breath to see what kind of response he would get, and thanked God with my whole heart when Graham’s friend listened sweetly, nodded his head and agreed that is not fun and hoped he felt better.
The two older boys went off to play as I scooped our little wounded soldier back up and carried him to the couch for more cartoons.
And I learned two things about us humans from that.
There is a need in us to tell our painful stories to someone.
And there is a grace gift when that someone just listens.
Not trying to fix or analyze or compare their own woundings…just a quiet presence to stand willingly in the face of someone else’s misery and receive it with kindness.
There is a whole lot of pain out there around us and a whole lot of pain inside us at times.
Finding the right balance of sharing our woes and receiving that of others is an effort we might prayerfully seek to maintain in the midst of a loud and antagonistic world.
This is kind of a crazy week and even as I type that I know I say it a lot, but it really is setting the bar at a new level.
Several trips north sprinkled in with regular work and a side of a weekend out of town wedding with weather that is ranging from high 40’s to mid 80’s has me just slightly frazzled.
Our nephew is getting married which has me thinking about family and how amazing the connections are as family trees add branches. Character traits and resemblances and even common mannerisms pop up whether you are around family much or little.
Russ and my cousin Kenny’s wife will laugh when we are together as apparently he and I, though we grew up on opposite sides of the U.S. and really were only around each other a couple of times growing up, have so many similarities. And obviously ones that don’t bother us a bit, but make our spouses nod their heads in sympathy.
I love watching his dad, my father’s younger brother, because it is like old home week. The way he puts his hand on his forehead, his laugh…even things he says…like a carbon copy of my own dad.
And again…they lived apart from each other and visited infrequently all of their adult life.
That same uncle, after hearing a recording of our Sarah singing, marveled that she had my Aunt Eugenia’s voice…and ever after, I have realized that yes indeed…that laugh I miss so much from my aunt still bubbles up out of our daughter.
Even while I often think l hear my own voice on some video Russ is watching and then realize it is actually Rachel’s.
Our nephew who is getting married is no blood relation of mine and we think resembles his mom’s side….yet there are little bits of him I see sometimes in our Graham. How can this be but through Russ’s line?
How fun to glimpse that spark I have loved in our red-headed nephew twinkle in the eyes of our grandson.
I think of our nieces and nephews as just as much mine as they are Russ’s and yet – no blood tie exists.
I look at our grandchildren and the way they already love and bond with family and while they share aspects of two family lines, they draw no difference between who is blood and who is just kin of the heart.
Such is the family of God, you know.
We belong to this big extended family through the blood of Jesus.
He is our common thread and it is His character and His love and His mercy that tie us together.
We belong because He first loved us.
We begin to resemble Him and people recognize Him through us as we love and care for one another.
We have these pink cowboy boots that we just can’t part with.
Sarah asked for them for months before she turned 6 and she wore them faithfully until she couldn’t cram her growing feet down in them one more time.
Her teacher asked me a couple of weeks after her birthday if she slept in them and I had to say she would if we would have let her.
She loved them.
And they birthed an expression that still puts me into fits of giggles every time it is said, or I even think about it being said.
Walking down the mall or a street or out in front of our house, she would start this long, striding, purposeful march with her arms swinging wide at her side and with her head raised high, she would proclaim…
I’m walking like a mom!
It was adorable, although less than flattering to see her impression of what a mom walked like.
I couldn’t tell if she actually thought that is what I looked like or if she was capturing the essence of the power and confidence she thought I possessed as her mother.
Since no one in our family ever agreed that she had definitely nailed an accurate impersonation of me walking (I know this because we all would laugh uncontrollably and ask where she got that idea), I have to assume it was the latter option.
So in honor of Mother’s Day…here is my response to that little girl in the pink cowboy boots and the sister and brother who made the bookends around her.
Oh children….if ever you thought your mother was confident that she knew what she was doing…she had you fooled.
I had not a clue how to dress a baby or change a diaper when they laid the first one of you in my arms and said we could take you home to raise.
While I had practiced for this role a zillion times in the play house my dad made for me in our basement as a little girl, real babies are not like dolls. I had never really cared for a newborn child.
They wiggle and move and their very lives depend on you and I was so scared I would mess it up.
And I did.
Time and again….although I was greatly relieved to find out eventually that feeding errors and occasionally binge watching cartoons doesn’t lead to sudden death.
I questioned every decision and I read so many books, even the falling apart paper back one from Dr. Spock that my mom had used when she was struggling with her own doubts raising me and your aunt.
I asked other mothers and I thank God the internet wasn’t a thing because I would have been googling perpetually.
I never wanted to do anything right and perfectly more than I have wanted to raise you three.
I wanted you to love Jesus and love people and spread your wings and not live in the same kind of fear and dread cycle I have fought so that you could do the wonderful things I knew God made you to do.
And you went and did, didn’t you.…
All three of you.
You went and spread your wings and flew, and traveled, and set your mind to attempt careers and learn skills. You have taken up the cause of others so many times and fought for the underdog.
You have made a life of purpose and forged into areas that have forced me to respond to your big ideas with a phrase I coined back in your college days…
“That sounds like a great opportunity.”
And here’s a little secret, that is code for “Your mom is going to need some time on her knees to get happy about that plan.”
You weren’t afraid to think and to be adults who fend for themselves. You have learned to wait for the things you want to happen and yet you have also rolled up your sleeves to do your part.
And along the way, you realized that your mom doesn’t really have a bent to walk with big confident steps and her arms swinging boldly at her side with her head held high…even if she would like to be that way.
You figured out that sometimes she does manage to pull it off…but a lot of times she moves slowly and sometimes she just rambles…and many a time all she could pull off was a crawl.
So here is to you birds that made me a mom and the dad who held us all together with the glue of steadfastness, consistency and wisdom.
Here’s to the laughter and the tears and the way we all have grown up together.
And here’s to the years and growth that lay before us all as we….
I spent a lot of the day thinking about my own grandma’s as I prepared for what to share today.
They were so different.
Emma Grace Ploch lived in Louisville and had a very serious face. But then, by the time I came on the scene she had lost her mom when just a child, buried a newborn son and a husband, raised a family through the Great Depression and the Great Flood of 1937 and maybe she was just tired.
She wore serious house dresses and black lace up shoes with hose that were mysteriously rolled just above the knee. She made fabulous meals like fried chicken and ambrosia salad and roasts that melted in your mouth and produced vegetable dishes that made this kid love them. She used liberal amounts of bacon grease she kept in a crock on the stove top in a kitchen roughly the size of our master bathroom.
She loved us well and when I arrived as the youngest grandchild after an eight year dry spell, she dubbed me Pitiful Pearl after a popular rags to riches doll. I heard the story many times….Poor, poor pitiful Pearl she would say as she settled me and it must have been often because for most of my young years that side of the family tended to call me Pearl.
My dad’s mom was Eugenia Otilla Lochner and she and my grandpa and all dad’s siblings had headed to Washington State sometime before I was born. Dad spoiled my mom and we spent the major holidays with her side during his years in the Air Force. When he retired we headed back to their Kentucky roots and so I saw his side less. To them, I was and always be Laura Jean.
Because the “Jean” came from their side and so with that I knew…they claimed me whether I saw them much or little. I was one of them. Their Kentucky blood ran deep so it’s more like one word…LaruhJEAN. I can assure you, distance does not dim love of family and I adored them all even if I didn’t log as much real time with them as my mom’s side.
As I remember, Grandma Lochner wore pants often to do her yard work. She too was a whiz in the kitchen. Like all my dad’s side of the family, you never had to wonder what she was thinking and it was usually a colorful display of language we weren’t allowed to use when things got heated.
In her 70’s she rode the Amtrak from Washington to Louisville to visit us and when she was in her late 80’s we sprung her from her retirement home and took her to a Mariner’s game. She walked with those bow legs, that I would one day watch my dad inherit, down a mountain of stairs where she dined on hot dogs and chips and cheered her team on.
They were magical people, my grandma’s. I didn’t think of them as old or as my parents’ parents. To me they were in a category of people that are set apart. Unique from all other humans. They either had time for me or they put an apron on me and put me to work next to them.
I can’t say I really “knew” them beyond that they were my grandma’s.
I can’t say I remember them telling me their stories or explaining what made them tick. I’m sure they never shared their struggles or their hopes and dreams. They were a different generation, those grandma’s and folks just kept those inward thoughts to themselves.
Or they were two busy frying chicken and canning asparagus to dwell on them much.
While my real time spent in the presence of these two women varied in quantity, the quality of those hours remain equal in my grown up heart. I cherish every memory I can drum up and who they were is part of who I am.
Even if I didn’t know their deepest thoughts or have a working knowledge of their history, they live in my memories for the times I spent with them in the years I had them.
I wonder what our grandchildren will remember of me.
I can’t write the script for them.
It will be captured in the moments spent together.
It will be their individual wirings that pick up what matters out of who I was to them.
I am not sure they will aptly portray me the way I saw myself. But I will exist in their memories in the ways they experienced our times together and pieced together through what their parents tell them about me.
I am thankful beyond words and humbled to hear them refer to them as “their” Lola.
As if I’m not really a person and more like they kind of own me through a God-ordained relationship.
I have joined the ranks of the likes of those women that birthed my parents.
I may dress differently and use new-fangled machines to get my chores done…when I actually do them. I may use a cell phone and not a black rotary dial with a party line extension. But I have the same things to give these offspring of our offspring that those women who helped shape me gave their grandchildren.
For as long as God allows me.
And my prayers for them will last…
To infinity and beyond <3
I sure would love to sit with you today over a cup of coffee and hear your Grandma stories.
Since we can’t do that because I am headed out the door in about five minutes to go be Lola to the band of brothers and little miss thing, let’s take some time today to read an amazing Grandma story found in the book of Ruth.
Let’s read about Naomi and the way God worked through deep loss, a foreign daughter-in-law and a tightened heart to place a grandchild in the lap of this widowed woman to remind her she was not forsaken.
Read it with fresh eyes as you watch this grandma of the Root of Jesse discover laughter and joy at the end of a long journey of sorrow.
If you have received Christ, she’s one of your Grandma stories too.