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. 

Overcoming Thoughts of Defeat

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV)

Through the years this verse has given me comfort and strength. It’s a reminder to hold on tight to my faith during personal trials, and to keep going after crashing and burning professionally. During the darkest periods of my life it would bubble up and out of my spirit, and I’d pray until I felt steady again. Does that make sense?

There was a period as a young adult when I stopped going to church, and foolishly told myself it was because for the first time no one was forcing me!  As the deacon’s grandkid, I was raised in the Baptist church. Sunday school, midweek service, baptisms, communion…you name it! So when I moved out on my own and had the choice to please myself or continue following God let’s just say I did not choose God, and my new “all about me” persona had the uncanny ability to say the wrong things, hurt feelings and cause offense. It bled into all areas of my life and drove my friends and family crazy!

The decision to return to God and never look back occurred in a new church I  attended sporadically.  A visiting pastor called up parishioners toward the end of service. I watched him from the back of the sanctuary as he began to pray and speak words of encouragement. Thinking back on that day, I remember feeling so defeated. The pastor gently called me up and began to pray with me, and said close to my ear:

“Don’t be discouraged daughter. God will bless you with another child.”

I lost my collective mind. Who said I wanted another child? We already had four: a baby, a toddler, one in kindergarten and the oldest in second grade! We were so broke, and lived paycheck to paycheck. Money problems started arguments which had our marriage resembling the movie Fight Club. What was this man talking about? As I looked at him I began to cry, no correction, I started wailing. AT THE ALTAR. God was so unfair and this pastor was crazy. I hid that word in my heart, because I couldn’t mentally or spiritually comprehend it at the time.

My out of character response that Sunday deeply affected the regular pastor too, because he and his wife began to spend more time with our family. They prayed with us and checked on us more often. Women in church reached out and I made new friends. My family started attending regularly and eventually I joined the choir. With time and through faith my defeated thinking became clearer and more focused! Many of my family relationships and friendships were restored, and professional success followed self-discipline and mentorship. But the biggest surprise of all? Ten years after the pastor’s prayer I delivered a bouncing, baby girl!

Today I KNOW I am a blessed woman of God. Despite too many medical procedures, an adamant doctor who repeatedly told me I was infertile, and a third who would perform emergency surgery to rule out cancer, our daughter arrived healthy and right on time.  She is my gift, a masterful centerpiece in a jeweled crown God sent from heaven. When I held her for the first time God firmly placed in my spirit that “this is the fulfillment of my promise. NOTHING can EVER separate you from My love!”

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NIV)

Love and blessings,

CED

Photo credit: http://www.Pixabay.com. Free for commercial use.

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