Legacy: Timeless Treasures Passed Down to my Children (Part 2)

Happy Sunday! Today’s message in church was entitled: Leaving a Legacy. Our Pastor reminded everyone that we’re all leaving some kind of legacy and it’s either a good or bad one. My thoughts returned to this series, and I’m so thankful of the good legacy I’ve been left to pass on to my children.

This is the second of a three part series narrating my family’s living legacy. I love sharing the timeless treasures I learned from my grandmother, taught my adult children and am currently teaching the last babe at home. Grandma represents four generations of faith. What an incredible testimony! Today I present more sage wisdom from my family’s practical, down-to-earth matriarch. Enjoy her witty, southern twist on city living:

MAINTAIN THY CASTLE

4.  Be ready for visitors. My grandmother really loved having guests! That meant you kept the living and bathrooms tidy and coffee on the stove. We got a jump start on the day by making the bed as soon as we got up. “You see,” she’d say, “that’s one thing done today.” Years later, I would collapse with exhaustion (and relief) into the plumped pillows and cool sheets of my pre-made bed after an endless day of running behind infants and children. Today when my older children visit and make their beds right away I smile and whisper, “one thing done for today!”

5.  Wash, hang, iron…repeat. I didn’t have dirty clothes growing up. Okay that’s a stretch, but my grandmother had a remedy for every stain, rip, or missing button. She fixed them, and taught me how to do it myself. I had church, school, and “play” clothes with shoes, and knew the difference! Nothing was replaced unless I grew. She taught me to do my own laundry, and hang it outside on the clothes line. Times have changed, but I like grandma’s mindset. My children learned to do their laundry and iron in middle school, and mend and tailor their clothes in high school. Their father and I purchased the essentials, but they were responsible for the upkeep until they outgrew their clothing and gave them to younger friends or relatives.

6.  What’s for dinner? Chicken. As a child I never asked, “What’s for dinner?” It was always ready after school, and I ate it! If I became hungry in the evening I had a snack or a piece of fruit. My colleagues find this amusing, but friends and family know the truth: Grandma cooked every day and every day she cooked chicken. While other proteins were available I can say with certainty we ate chicken for dinner 99.9% of the time during my childhood. As a working Mom I treasure the dinner hour with my family, and taught them to make it their priority too. It’s hot and usually ready to be set on the table at 6pm, and no cell phones are allowed. I’m a stickler for serving vegetables, but yes a lot of times it’s chicken!

Stay tuned for the final installment of my grandmother’s lasting legacy!

Blessings,

CED

Photo credit: Four Generations: my grandmother, mother, and daughter with me in North Carolina. 1993. Used with permission.  

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Legacy: Timeless Treasures Passed Down to my Children (Part 1)

Spring’s here! I love how our tiny, green island awakens from cool and windy slumber as the refreshing rains come. It gets warm a little earlier than on mainland Japan, and my beloved cherry blossoms have already bloomed and faded away. Spring brings happy memories of waiting with my Grandmother for the blossoms arrival.  They make their annual presence sometime around Easter in the U.S., and fill the nation’s capital with their pink and white delicate beauty.  Grandmother loved spring and gardening, and passed her passion on to me. We’d talk about so many things working in her garden, and later sitting on the porch admiring our labor. When my children came along I kept the tradition alive as we gardened together, talking and sharing, sweating and laughing. Here are some treasures I learned at my Grandmother’s knee and passed on to my babies:

KNOW THYSELF

1. Apologize (and mean it). Sincere apologies are good for the soul.  No one’s perfect, I’d remind my children when they were frustrated with a friend or classmate. This includes us. When we commit an offense we should quickly say we’re sorry and ask for forgiveness.  “Don’t let your pride get in the way of saying you’re sorry,” Grandma would encourage me.

2. Manners matter most.  The military didn’t teach me to say yes Ma’am/no Sir, please, thank you and you’re welcome. I learned at home and taught my children early on. Recently a young man held the elevator for me, and in relief I greeted him, “Good morning Sir, and thank you so much!” Visibly shocked he mumbled no big deal. When we reached his floor I called out have a great day. He turned around, smiled and replied you too Ma’am! “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” Grandma would say. That’s a southern way of saying “bee” kind!

3. Have a genuine, personal relationship with God. I’ve always been fascinated by behavior, but not many adults wanted to be scrutinized by a quiet, little person. Grandma didn’t mind as I watched her cook, clean and garden. She had these daytime conversations with God, sang songs from church and prayed for family, her friends or people I didn’t know!  God was important to her, and she loved spending time with him. Each day began and ended the same, on bended knee at her bedside. Long after she was crippled with arthritis and the pain was visibly unbearable, she’d clasp bent fingers together and give thanks for another day. I wanted that kind of special relationship with who she called the Holy One of heaven and earth. “If you let Him, God will lead and guide you through life’s journeys,” she promised.  She lived to see me choose Him for myself, and offer the same gift of choice to my children.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of my grandmother’s lasting legacy.

Be blessed,

CED

Photo credit: Cherry Blossom Festival. Washington, DC. 2014. Used with permission. 

I WILL FOLLOW YOU FORWARD

Helloooo Friends,

I’ve missed you something fierce, but took much-needed time away to rest and recharge with my beloved husband and precious babies.

We even managed to spend some time in our hometown and visit with friends and family. One afternoon we drove through the city and my husband asked out of the blue, “would you like to see Ivy City?” TOUCHY. This was my childhood neighborhood, and Mr. Excitement seemed truly ready to take me back there to travel down memory lane with me and our youngest daughter. Time to slam on the figurative brakes! No need for us to revisit the past Sir. It’s best summed up by:

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The 70’s and 80’s

While living in the infamous Ivy City, my growing up years spiraled into a long nightmare outside of church and school. Let’s talk seasons. The spring rains flooded the two main roads of the neighborhood with storm water, the summer heat plagued us with horrible rat infestations from inconsistent trash pickup, and winter brought everything to a standstill! There was no snow removal, and no emergency city services…the roads cleared when the sun melted the snow. We simply did without the basics.

My Mom and Grandmother held many conversations with other elders about the community’s heartbreaking statistics: DC’s highest birth rate at 49.4 per 1000 women, the most households led by a single mother, and the poorest residents (those earning less than $5,000). Things only worsened as I entered high school. Washington, DC was named the murder capital of the United States, and with skyrocketing unemployment and high school drop out rates, Ivy City held one of the highest crime rates in the city. The National Guard was called in to assist, and began using horrible industrial arc lamps to illuminate our streets and alleys at night to discourage drug dealing. IT DID NOT WORK. What it did was make sleep next to impossible for those living in the community. I began drinking coffee just to stay alert in school.

Through prayer, sacrifice and a tremendous amount of hard work I finished high school, and went to college. With God’s favor I’ve traveled the world teaching sanitation and public health principles to others living in similar conditions I grew up in. It’s with gratitude those dark times are behind me, and thankfulness God freed me from the fear and pain of my past so that I’m able to freely share His good news from my heart. Until that car ride I have not had a single desire to return home. NOT ONE. In my spirit there has only been an intense urge to continue forward and spread the love of Christ. When I reflect on what little value man assigned my community or its people, and how statistically my future was forecasted towards loneliness, poverty, and death,  I’m reminded of the chorus of a song that ministers to me by Israel Houghton and remind myself:

But…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos directly above

Be Blessed today,

CED

 

Memorial Day 2016

Yesterday while driving home for the long weekend, I looked out my car window at a startling site.

So many flags gently waving in the wind. I thought about the people who took the time to place them all there.  Did they volunteer for flag duty to remember loved ones, or honor men and women in their community who died protecting our freedoms? As I continued my drive I reflected on Memorial Day, and what it means to my family.

Yes it’s a holiday, and many people celebrate all holidays the same, with food, family and a lot of fun! However, this is a different day for my family . We do not celebrate Memorial Day, we observe it and educate our children on its importance. May I share its true meaning with my friends at The Exceptional Life?

As Memorial Day approaches, it is time to pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.
In this time of unprecedented success and prosperity throughout our land, I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal “National Moment of Remembrance” on each Memorial Day. This memorial observance represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.
Accordingly, I hereby direct all executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance (Program), to promote a “National Moment of Remembrance” to occur at 3 p.m. (local time) on each Memorial Day.
Recognizing that Memorial Day is a Federal holiday, all executive departments and agencies, in coordination with the Program and to the extent possible and permitted by law, shall promote and provide resources to support a National Moment of Remembrance, including:
  • Encouraging individual department and agency personnel, and Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.
  • Recognizing, in conjunction with Memorial Day, department and agency personnel whose family members have made the ultimate sacrifice for this Nation.
    William J. Clinton

As grateful citizens my family honors our country’s heroes for their courage in making the ultimate sacrifice. Along with a grateful nation we will remember and reflect on Memorial Day.

Blessings,

CED

Photo credit: http://www.usmemorialday.org

The Dailey Dose – Merry Christmas

From my family to yours, we wish you happiness and joy as you make cherished memories with friends and family this season.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

I pray that you enjoy peace, good health and prosperity in the new year!

May 2016 bring with it an abundance of great ideas, and your faith and courage increase to see them through,

and beloved may your silent dreams and hidden talents finally begin to spark into fruition.

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”    Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”   Luke 2:10-14 (NIV)

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Love and Blessings!

The Dailey Dose- Thankfulness

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Okay, I confess my little one and I are a bit ahead of ourselves ushering in the holiday season, but we’re still singing and laughing as we go up and down the store aisles, oblivious to any stares from fellow shoppers. We’re not THAT loud, and it is a wonderful time of the year.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I’m getting happy boosts every time I turn on the cooking channels, or see my one neighbor who breaks out the lights and wreaths weeks before Thanksgiving. High Five for initiative!

People are generally kinder during the winter holidays, and I have such tender memories of cooking, laughing, and family during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My Grandma would take me to church, and my Aunt would have so many friends and family over that the “kid’s table” was generally in some separate space where we’d binge our pint-sized bodies on pineapple coconut cake and sweet potato pie, among other delectable sweets.

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Moving Up to the Big Table!

I’m truly thankful to be alive and raising my family in the 21st century. You have to admit it was pretty different just one century ago. My Grandma’s stories of how she gathered eggs and churned butter as a preschooler, then stored them in an icebox (precursor to the refrigerator) still has me shaking my head.  Then there was her talent in wringing chicken necks and de-feathering them, which left me slightly traumatized when first witnessing her technique. Yikes!

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Family Gathered: Near and Far!

Finally, and most importantly, I’m thankful that my Heavenly Father loves me, and through His Son has given me an example of how to live a life of compassion and forgiveness in my everyday relationships. I’ve experienced both great joy and heartache in my life, but the Lord has been the source of strength in all my circumstances. So, please share with me and The Exceptional Life family this week…

What are you thankful for? Share stories, pictures, video, the floor is yours!

Blessings, Crystal