Friday, October 26, 2012

DEAR J.D. (and he is!)

I picked up an old Bible recently, not one I normally use.  I lifted it from the bookcase, opened to a passage and an old letter fell out.  I recognized my own handwriting but did not even remember writing it.  As I read it, I realized it was a copy of what I wrote to our first grandchild just hours before he was born in 1996.  He's named after both of his grandfathers--James Douglas Grainger.  We call him J.D.
 The mandatory bowl cut, another family legacy!

This letter was me giving him a blessing, reminding him of his spiritual heritage by tracing those godly footsteps back through several generations.  He'll only meet some of these family members in heaven one day.  But they have imprinted who he is by virtue of their lives.

~     ~     ~
"My Dear Grandchild,

Tonight I talked with your daddy at midnight.  I think it was our fourth talk in the last 24 hours.  We're all so eager for your arrival.

As your mama reads this, you will finally be here.  Already in my heart, I can't wait to get you in my arms.  You're so special--the first child of our first child, and our first grandchild.

In the Bible a mother named Hannah said, "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord. . ."  She knew the joy of a much loved and awaited son.  My heart is so full of love for you, sometimes it feels like it will burst with joy.

In the Old Testament it was a custom for a blessing to be given to the first born.  It was like a prayer for the future.  As I look back on your heritage, the history of your family, I also see a future.   Your great, great, great grandmother, Cathon Strickland, was called Muh.  She loved little babies and especially loved to kiss them on the backs of their necks.  A horse and carriage used to pass by her house.  She'd run and stop the neighbors just to kiss their little newborn son.

Her daughter was your great, great grandmother, Henrietta Strickland.   She loved people.  In her community if anyone got sick or had a death in the family, she'd be the first one there with pies or cakes.  She cared.

Then her daughter, Kathryn Strickland Tippett, was my mother and your great grandmother.  She always had so many friends.  Her mailbox still overflows at Christmas or her birthday.  She had a soft shoulder and a good ear to listen to problems.  We teased her that all her friends were neurotic.  Actually they were just people with needs and they knew she cared.

Her daughter is me, your nana.  I was the Kool Aid mom to your mother. Children and teenagers through the years seemed to flock to our home, because we loved them.

Your parents too have so many friends who love to fellowship in your home.  It's a favorite college hangout.

With all that history of lavish loving, we hang out the welcome banner to you.  In a word, the gift we pass on to you is HOSPITALITY.

It's also our prayer for your future--love others as much as God loves you. Show them.  In doing so, you love Him!

That little baby in the buggy almost 100 years ago, grew up and married your great grandma.  He was the firstborn too.  He was my father.

Barely here and yet already rich with a Christian heritage few can claim. Your arrival makes us wealthy too--not in dollars, but your very life is a gift to us all from God Himself.  On loan to your parents, received and handled with gratitude you are a treasure, to be returned to God.

We pray that you will be fashioned and molded for His pleasure and use. What an awesome goal and privilege.

Just like Jesus--at the right time, at the best time, you came!

Heart full of love,
                                ~     ~     ~
J.D. turns 16 today and has grown into an extraordinarily godly young man who uses his gifts and talents for the Lord and others.  Happy birthday, Jade!

Some say he looks like Justin Bieber.  Others see a resemblance to his uncle Kent, our son.  I say he looks like James Douglas Grainger!  See, John?  I told you when we met, you'd make beautiful children.  And Kimberly helped! Beautiful inside and out, as Mama used to say.

J.D. today:

This is his Uncle Kent.  Did I fool you?
OK, so this IS Justin Beiber.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have
this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Feel free to share this with another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart-mouthed young person. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to tick us off.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Ever have sleepless nights?  Insomnia!  Even worse are those nights I sleep a couple of hours only to wake up, unable to finish my night's sleep.  

One night this week I woke up and my mind began churning out ideas, ways to work out something in the future I'd like to see happen.  I lost several hours sleep before letting it go into God's hands.  Then the next morning my devotions took me to the very same realization that I'd experienced. 

When I think of worship, several ways come to mind.
  • praying 
  • singing
  • giving (time or talents)
  • praise and thanksgiving
The Lord is teaching me another way to honor Him.  It's not in my nature to do this nor is it easy. 
  • resting
Not in the Sunday afternoon nap sense, though I love that!   My devotional next morning said that resting in Christ is true worship too.  It didn't feel like worship at 2:00 AM!

Here's a secret about me that few know.  Until now.  I talk to myself. Sometimes I talk aloud to God too while on the hoof around the house.  Not when folks are around.  Some would say I'm crazy.  Another theory I've heard (and prefer) is that very intelligent people talk aloud to themselves to work things out.  My midnight to 2:00 AM conversation with God went something like this.

Lord, I'm just trying to work all this out.

Kathy, I know the plans I have for you.

I just can't understand how.

Lean not to your own understanding.

But, Lord, you know I'm a planner and need to know which direction to take things.

I'll guide your steps, tell you when to turn left, when to turn right.

I'm struggling.

Yes, I know.  Try resting.

I know, Lord!  Now even that's part of my concern.  I need  sleep!  Church is in the morning and I want to be rested for worship.

I didn't say sleep.  I mean try resting in ME.  Trust me to work out the plans, my plans for you. Resting is worship too.

Wow!  I let it go, found peace (without answers), sleep (without fretting), and renewed faith (without planning future details.)  All in Him.  I encountered God, Who never slumbers nor sleeps.  My light bulb moment freed me to turn out the lights and sleep peacefully.

Maybe my purest sacrifice of worship is in silence, just quietly waiting. . .resting. . .in God to manage life's details.  He handles the universe majestically.  I'm sure He can take care of me and my petty problems.

As humans it's natural to struggle and stress over problems. Choosing to rest and trust Christ is supernatural.  But that's exactly why it's so vital in order to stop the downward spiral.  

Sleepness nights can happen to anyone over most anything, big or little.  Worry doesn't prevent problems.  It prevents prayer.  Next time it robs you of sleep or peace, I hope your light bulb moment comes more quickly than mine. He's on call 24-7.

Friday, October 5, 2012

GOOFEY GOLFERS (originally titled Golfers' Goofs)

Our weekly conversation goes one of two ways:

"How was your game, Doug?"

"Did pretty well on the first nine but had a super back nine."  He may elaborate on birdies, bogies, straight drives and pars.  I just nod as if it all makes sense to me.

Other days we have conversation #2.

"How was your game, Doug?"

He answers in one sentence ranging from,

"Great weather."
"Good fellowship."
"I found 8 balls in the woods off the first hole.  Two were Titlists!"

I nod and this time it actually does make sense to me.  Scores don't count on these days.  It becomes mere exercise.

Once a month we have dinner with 6 friends from college.  We call ourselves the Alum Chums.  Sometimes Doug golfs with Donnie Miles, Bobby Parker or Leroy Welch.  Recently the guys were remembering their past golf disasters.

Doug launched with, "Remember the day I swung and my expensive golf head flew into the lake?"

Bobby remembered, "Yeah and I also recall you wading into muck trying to find it.  No luck.  So you considered coming back in waders to try again.  I talked you outta that!  That's what friends are for."

Donnie & Doug mock acting on their emotions some days.
Donnie winced as he recalled, "And the day my electric cart ran amok right into that lake with my bag of clubs underwater.  I can't believe I moved fast enough and had strength enough to pull it up. . .pure adrenalin!  In emergencies adrenalin gives you super strength to do stuff you normally couldn't do!"

I laughed.  He didn't.

Golf widows get this.  We're a unique breed.  The highs we hear range from that rare hole in one (Doug got one. . .his miracle!) to his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

He played with another friend, a retired preacher, and they both had a pretty good game.  Loading his new clubs into the friend's truck bed, he opted not to tie them down. (You know where this is going, don't you?  It's called foreshadowing!) A few miles down the road, folks began passing them and honking horns. Looking back they saw Doug's golf bag hanging over the truck's tailgate. Sparks flew as heads scraped asphalt, eventually flinging clubs for about a mile.  Going back to see if any were retrievable was like a funeral for a golfer.  Mangled, twisted clubs left a morbid trail.  He wanted to cry but golfers don't do that.  

It was several days before Doug had the courage to tell me the cost in dollars.  When he finally did, I wanted to cry but golf wives don't do that. Instead they find the adrenalin to smile and say, "Honey, it's only money. Why don't you replace them?"

Adrenalin gives you super strength to do stuff you normally couldn't do. . .my miracle!