Thinking about babies

I’ve been thinking about babies recently. Of course there’s an obvious reason for it–our 6-month-old granddaughter…who is absolutely adorable and the brightest and best baby in the world!

But as I’ve been having fun with her, I’ve been thinking about other babies as well…sometimes in ways that make me happy and other times in ways that make me almost sick to my stomach.

Unfortunately in my reading, I’ve come across stories of “experiments” done on infants in the Nazi concentration camps…experiments that were nothing but torture…and then often those in charge would go home to their own families and play with their own children–who have often remembered them as good parents. I’m not going to say any more about what was done because every time I think of it, I just get sick. But you can find your own stories.

I think of mothers who–as they were trying to protect the rest of their families from the Nazis–found themselves in the cruel position of having to smother crying infants in order that the rest of the family could survive.

There are contemporary mothers who have to watch their children die from what we consider non-life-threatening diseases–because their children don’t have access to medical care…or enough food…or clean water.

Others either watch their children–or encourage them–as suicide bombers or child soldiers…innocents sent into battles they know nothing about.

Then there are other children who are sold into horrific situations. Sometimes parents think they are sending the child into a situation where they will be better off than if they had stayed home, not knowing what is really happening. Other times the parents don’t seem to care.

And I find myself wondering…what is the disconnect? Babies belong to us all…they are our hope for the future. How can we allow them to be used and abused in such horrible ways?

I love my granddaughter–and my grandsons–and cannot imagine mistreating them…any more than I can imagine mistreating someone else’s children and grandchildren. Maybe if we could all learn to see each child born into this world as part of our own family we could begin the long and difficult process of bringing peace…

I hope so.

New look

Yes, this is still the Preacher’s Kid blog. I just decided that after having been posting for so long, it was time to consider a new theme. Besides, I’ve started a new “career” (retirement), so that also is a reason for a new look.

Life is good…and busy…and FUN! I think I’m just beginning to understand how busy retirement can be, but I’m enjoying it and looking forward to new possibilities. I want to live life to the fullest that I can, because I don’t want to look back with regrets.

Lots to do before this weekend. I have a sermon to prepare about the blessings of community…and they are so many! A friend of mine–who works with the hard-living–posted this on Facebook today:

One of our kids from my church family asked me a very sincere question which came deep from the shadows of her heart in the midst of her silent screams. She have seen older siblings follow different crowds. A couple follow the “streets” causing both to end up with addictions and felonies. She saw another sibling follow the crowd to college and obtaining a good professional career but no longer wanting to associate with his parents and other siblings including her. Then there is her sister only a couple year older but who has no friends and never goes anywhere but school.

My young friend is heading to middle school and teenage life in a few months. Here is her question…

“Mr. Jimmy, who does God want me to hang out with when I become a teenager? Please, don’t tell me it is not a big deal and to just be myself. Everybody picks somebody to hang with even if they just read Facebook. Who does God want me to hang out with? Please help me!”

As always, I did my very best to answer her questions being sensitive to the fear she is facing. BUT HERE THE PART I WANT MY FACEBOOK FRIENDS to know.

Sitting with us during this chat was a teenage boy who have been part of this ministry since he was 3. After I finished sharing my “wisdom” , he says…
“I grew up in the Community of Christ. I know what I’ve learned here. Whoever we hang out with, the purpose is to help those people get on mission to serve the poor and the weak. If they don’t want to be on mission to help people, just know they really still don’t know nothing about life even if they are high honor roll or football MVP.”

This experience happened last Sunday at church. This morning it was on my mind. I was avoiding doing paper work by flipping thru the bible next to my chair. In Matthew 5, I found the answer “for me” about who God want me to “hang out” with and why.
· THE POOR IN SPIRIT referring either to humble people or to those who are broken and have lost hope. Those who feel so excluded they hide in the shadows.
· THOSE WHO MOURN: those who suffer loss and the feeling of emptiness that follows.
· THE MEEK: those who are gentle and refuse to use power over others as a tool to make things happen and often become victim to power seekers.
· THE MERCIFUL: people who willingly surrender their privileges or otherwise go out of their way to improve others’ well-being.
· THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED: people whose refusal to give up their quest for justice, peace and truth results in the taking away of their rights, wholeness, or dignity.
WHY HANG WITH THEM? TO help Christ Jesus bless them.

These kinds of people Jesus highlights tend to dwell beneath society’s radar. They often stay out, or are kept out, of public view. They possess little power. Most of us can find no good reason to join these groups. BUT when you on the mission of Jesus, can we seek to hang with any other?

He and the ministry that congregation offer have given so many people the opportunity to have a new look!

Maybe it’s a grandparent thing…

I don’t remember my dad ever calling any of us kids by nicknames. We had names–and those were used. Granted, they were shortened somewhat…unless we were in trouble. If all three names got used, we knew we’d better snap to attention!

However, my grandmother (his mother) had a nickname for us–pretty much the same one for all of us. Snickelfritz. I don’t know where she came up with it…or why. And we eventually outgrew it.

Then we became parents…and suddenly things changed. My dad had nicknames for all  of his grandkids–different ones for each. The earliest was pretty bland–“Avis the Mavis”. I don’t think there was any particular meaning–just the rhyming. But then he got two grandkids 6 weeks apart…a boy and a girl. Our son got the nickname “Skunk”…and his cousin was “the prune.” Later another grand-daughter…and another nickname (which unfortunately I can’t remember now).

And eventually came our grandchildren–and more nicknames. Our two oldest grandsons didn’t have nicknames that stuck–but our third one sure did! For some reason, he got the nickname “George” from my dad. That was fine for a number of years–and then he got old enough to understand and talk…and things changed! My dad said to him one day, “Well, hello, George!”…and his quick response was “I’m not George. You are!” And that settled it. From that day until the day my dad died, he was George to our grandson. It was never Grandma and Grandpa…it was Grandma and George.

Clayton

He is now taller than I am…but he is still “Shorty” to me. Probably always will be. And he has a younger sister. Her name is a beautiful name–but do I call her by it? Not very often.

Most of them I refer to her as “Ladybug.” I don’t know why–it just seems to fit.

We also have a great-grandson. Haven’t decided on a nickname for him yet, but it will come. It’s a little more of a challenge, because he doesn’t live close to us. But the name will come.

My husband’s side of the family doesn’t use nicknames. Names were selected for the children at birth–and that’s what was used. My side of the family loved nicknames, and we seem to have inherited that.

Maybe it’s just a grandparent thing.

Retirement – wow!

I’m about half-way through my first month of retirement…and wow! Yes, it’s what I thought it would be–and no, it isn’t.

I’m still busy…but it’s a different kind of busy-ness. I have an opportunity to interact with my granddaughter in significant ways–watching her investigate this new world she is part of. She has learned to roll over…she is learning to recognize different objects (including our dog…who is not quite as enamored of her as she is of him!)…figuring out her voice can make so many different sounds! Right now her favorite sound is making raspberries. She has different kinds she makes, depending on whether she is wanting to get your attention, is angry, wants her diaper changed…

I have the time to write a letter–a real letter–every week to my grandson who is currently living several hundred miles away. I hope he enjoys getting snail mail as much as I enjoy writing it. There’s something about getting a letter you can hold in your hands that’s important.

I can watch my great-grandson (who also lives several hundred miles away) grow and change by the pictures his mother posts on Facebook. So while I can’t hold him, I can enjoy his growth and his delight in the world.

Those are all great busy-ness…but there’s a different kind that’s also important.

For many, many years, a part of me was really submerged. There were a lot of reasons…busy-ness, insecurity… It doesn’t really matter why now, because I have the time to allow that part of me to re-emerge. I have always enjoyed creative writing–and now I can find/make time to do it. Some of it’s not very good, but that’s okay. It’s practice. But some of it is good–and I’m feeling more comfortable with the idea of sharing it with others.

There’s a wonderful poem by Jenny Joseph that’s been around for a while:

Warning

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I’m not going to do all of the things she plans on doing…but I am enjoying my version of wearing purple with a red hat!