Sunday, July 27, 2014

That's Why They Call Them Grand

Like most parents, I will never forget the feeling of holding each of my children for the first time. There was a huge sense of relief, both physical and emotional, as I counted fingers and toes, and rejoiced in feeling that precious puff of breath coming out of tiny nostrils. It was a new kind of love, like nothing I had ever felt before, but tinged with anticipation and even a healthy dose of fear for the adventure that was looming ahead.

Years later, the feeling of holding a brand new grandchild was similar, but different. There was button-popping pride for the journey of my child, this little one’s parent. Pure, unadulterated joy as I felt this precious little bundle filling my hands. But, this time, no fear. On the contrary, I felt only happy anticipation, knowing that while I would be around to help, the responsibility for the scary stuff ahead rested on someone else’s shoulders.

By the grace of God, my husband and I have experienced this grand feeling four times (so far). Each of these little bundles of joy has developed into a unique individual, and provided us with constant entertainment.

The first, born a little over twelve years ago came along when his mom (our daughter)  and his dad were very young. His arrival cemented their bond, and they set out to prove to the world that they had all the right stuff to be very good parents. Grandson number one has always been extremely interested in how things work. Before he could talk, he imitated the sound and motion of the automatic garage door.  Instead of using building blocks only to make tall towers and watching as they tumbled down, he constructed “airports” complete with runways. Empty shoeboxes and Scotch tape were the perfect building materials, and his imagination and creativity were limitless. Later, his Lego set was used to create ocean liners and spaceships. His laptop provided a way to create arrival and departure schedules.  We are all very sure that he is on his way to a career in engineering.

Grandson number two helped his mom and dad  (our oldest son) prove something as well. It took a lot of hard work, sacrifice and prayers when he arrived during his dad’s senior year in college. This one was the family’s super hero, very comfortable in a mask and cape. Nowadays, he loves to talk about monsters of the deep, and all things that live under the ocean. He lives for adventure and danger, on television and in real life. He conquered a ruptured appendix this year and came back to bring home a trophy in baseball.  Scuba diving and marine biology seem to lurk in his future.

A year and a half later, we welcomed number two’s little sister, the family’s new princess.  Dainty and feminine from the beginning, she waited until her third birthday to do much talking, but has not stopped to take a breath since. Her favorite color, of course is pink. Purses, shoes, dresses, jewelry, and when proper, a good tiara will always make her smile. She loves growing flowers, and helping out in the kitchen. As the younger sister to a rough and tough boy, she certainly holds her own, and keeps the family organized. She will be the CEO of someone’s company, and a great wife and mommy at the same time.

When Grandson number one was seven years old, his little brother arrived to remind his family how to have fun. Nicknamed Pogo because of his constant bouncing, he seems to be always on the go. His best friend has been Mickey Mouse since a very early trip to Orlando.  Since Mom works from home, he has learned to entertain himself, which can lead to big adventures with his canine playmates if she averts her gaze for more than a few seconds.  This one is also super considerate, and one of his first full sentences was repeated as my hubby and I left for work. “Have a good day, Granny and Grandpa.” His future career will be as personal coach and trainer.

Since our middle son and his wife have not yet added to the family, there is a high probability that our future grands will be born in the sunshine state of Florida. This will be perfectly fine with Granny and Grandpa, as we will mark our calendars and make reservations for frequent visits. Perhaps, someday we will even transfer the family headquarters to the peninsula between the gulf and the Atlantic.  Hopeful dreams keep us young.

God has such a perfect plan, and we rejoice to see the blessings of a long and healthy life. Enjoy those grands this summer, and feel free to brag on them by sending your letters to me in care of Ouachita Life, or on my blog at

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In the Name of Rockets' Red Glare- Do Something!

“I love his soul, but I hate what he did.” One of my mother-in-law’s favorite sayings comes to mind often as I see news reports about what I consider to be despicable acts performed by equally despicable people. Such a Christian attitude, but so hard to actually put in practice.

One particular group of people has grown very hard for me to love, even though at the core of their beliefs, we probably have more than one thing in common. When my father lived in Topeka, Kansas, he warned me about the route to take if I should ever come to visit him on a Sunday morning. “Don’t come down Fairlawn,” he’d say. “You just don’t want to see that.” He should have known that directives like this only brought out the rebellious streak in me. So, one Sunday I witnessed a group of professed Christians standing in front of a neighboring church building with terribly hateful posters. Their protest? Mainly, that this particular congregation allowed and encouraged the attendance of people the first congregation considered to be sinners. What? Sinners not allowed to attend church?  Would they rather those folks had come to their own place of worship?  I think not. Just as Daddy had predicted, the whole thing ruined my day.

Later, this group took their show on the road, choosing to protest at, of all places, the funerals of our nation’s heroes. I viewed this as ironic, since the person being honored, and the family members that were attending had made the ultimate sacrifice to allow these *%#$@ people the right to protest. (Oops, that was rather unprofessional of me.) Enter my new heroes, the Patriot Guard Riders. Very fittingly, this group was also founded in Kansas, in Mulvane, the town where my mother and father met and married. The whole purpose of the Patriot Guard was to position themselves in front of those folks from Topeka with their ugly chants and signs. The big flags and loud motorcycles became more than a shield; they were a symbol of courage and respect. They stood proudly in the gap where the rest of us would like to be.

 The recent storms that left so many of our Central Arkansas neighbors hurting provided another opportunity to show the world what we are made of. At my former job for a major insurance company in Little Rock, the employees spent very little time wishing someone would help those who needed assistance. Instead, they found a way to do something. Some went out and actually helped clear rubble and find lost pets, others wrote checks to the Red Cross, still others brought non-perishable food, bottled water, cleaning items, trash bags. In no time, a truckload of items was ready to go. Less talk, more action gets the job done quickly.

If we venture very far out of our residences, we are bound to encounter people who don’t have a place to call home at all. There could be many reasons for this, and we could spend hours trying to determine the root causes, the disturbing trends in America that are multiplying this shameful situation. Meanwhile, those folks are tired, hungry, desperate. An organization based in Little Rock called The One, Incorporated has decided to do something. Under the leadership of one very determined young man, they are take whatever resources they have or can get donated and use them to help. Purely and simply, they give with no expectation of return, and it is making a difference. Their biggest success- helping that One person into a new start in life.

Of course, taking action has risks, and we must be sure that we are using our resources in the best way. There’s no harm in researching, finding the best way to help.  We all have talents and resources that can benefit others. My suggestion- find a way to use them.

Another very energetic young man who is in the music business performs a song that inspires me. His lyrics speak about looking around and seeing all the problems in the world, and shaking his fist at heaven. Matthew West’s song “Do Something” says that when he asks God “Why don’t you do something?” the answer he receives is this, “I did. I created you.”

We live in a country with more wealth and opportunity than anywhere else in the world. While enjoying your hot dogs and snow cones and oohing and ahing over the beautiful fireworks, give just a minute of thought to sharing the gift you have with others, and then follow through. The land of the free and home of the brave will be better for it.