Finding Faith and Fall with a Five-Year-Old Child

It never occurred to me that five-year-old Rilynn would give me a greater gift than I could ever give her.

Our daughter Katie remarried in 2014 and became a stepmom. Katie and her husband decided Rick and I would be called “Grand Pa Rick and Grand Ma Jewels.” It’s an honor to become anyone’s grandmother, but it’s especially sweet when God brings a child into your life in such a surprising way.

A few weeks ago, Katie asked if we could keep Rilynn for the weekend. I told her, yes, yes, yes a million yeses. It was the first time she’d spent the night with us.

My first assignment as being a grandmother. 

I wanted her to feel comfortable with us.

I wanted to do everything right.

It’d been so many years since a child had stayed in our home. Our youngest is 25. And he’s a boy.

Think, think, think. What do five-year-old little girls like to do? 

I ran to the store and bought Play-Doh and paints and coloring books.

Whew. She loves to paint. 🙂

Grand Pa Rick taught her how to make a turkey. Y’all know I’m not craftsy. This was all him!

(He also built her a dollhouse for her fourth birthday.)

They gathered eggs. There was only one, but it was the perfect number for her little hands to carry.

She wanted to see Grand Pa Rick’s garden–even though there was nothing growing but weeds. To her, they were beautiful.

Everything was.

Later that day, I showed her pretend leaves on the porch. She wanted to see real ones.

I grabbed a brown paper sack and we headed to the woods behind our house. Of course, Clyde and Ellie came too.

Because Rilynn was with me, the woods became an enchanted forest. 

“The leaves change colors every October,” I said. “Why don’t we pick out our favorite ones? You can take them home with you.”

“Really? I can keep them?”

“Sure, as many as you want.”

“Look! Grand Ma Jewels, two yellow ones!”

“What’s that?” she said.

“It’s an old tree stump. God lets animals live in it when it’s cold.”

She peered inside. “That’s nice of Him.”

“Um-hmm.”

We walked a few feet down the path. “What’s this?”

“It’s a tiny pine tree. One day, it’ll be all grown up.”

You will too. Life goes so fast. I used to be five.

“What kind of leaf is this?”

To me, the leaf wasn’t pretty at all. It was huge and brown and ugly–so dry, its edges curled. “I think it’s from this big oak tree.”

“I like it.” She put it in her sack. “What’s this, Grand Ma Jewels?” She handed me an acorn.

I hadn’t thought about acorns in years–even though our driveway was covered in them.  

I’d stomped on them.

Crushed them with my feet. 

Driven over them.

Saw them as a nuisance. 

“Sweetie, it’s an acorn. God made it. And somehow, He makes acorns grow into giant oak trees.”

She nodded as if the miracle made perfect sense. Gathering a dozen or so, she stuffed them into her sack. 

Then I picked one up and examined the impossibly small thing.

How’d you do it, Lord? You packed the miracle of life inside this hard brown shell.  Rilynn believed quickly–with all her heart. She never doubted.

If I could have a tiny portion of this child’s perfect faith…

Following her down the path toward home, I put the acorn in my pocket, a seed of rugged faith growing inside me.

 With God–and only with God–all things are possible. Borrowed from Matthew 19:26 click to tweet

Have you ever been blown away by God’s enormous size, and yet He’s involved in the intricate details of our lives?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September Song, An Old Picture, Some New Insight

When things happen unexpectedly, sometimes I wonder if God’s trying to get my attention. This past Thursday afternoon, I was going about my everyday routine. Clyde (my yellow lab) and I hurried down the driveway to get the mail.

Well, I was hurrying.

Clyde was poking around, sniffing the fall air, and checking out patches of pine straw.

I had a lot to do that day, so I didn’t pause to study the changing seasons.

But what I found buried in the stack of mail got my attention.

It was anything but ordinary.

A plain white envelope from a dear friend.

Inside was an old picture of my husband and me at a wedding.

No note enclosed.

Just a photo  carefully wrapped in a paper towel.

She’d written one word on the back.

“1995.”

I sat on the front porch steps remembering when we were younger–that season in life when I was a new mother, folding diapers, bringing babies home from the hospital.

How fast it all goes. 

Almost twenty years since this picture was taken.

Now the children are all grown. And we’re older. A different season.

We’re middle-aged–no longer in the summertime of life.

Maybe we’re in the fall of our lives? 

A couple of days later, I showed my husband the picture. “What do you think?” I said.

“About what?”

“About us. How young we looked. About life. About everything.”

He studied the picture. Didn’t say anything.

“Well?”

“Your hair is shorter in the picture,” he finally said.

“And yours is longer, but don’t you get it? We’re not young anymore.”

“So what. We’re still us.”

I taped the picture to the refrigerator and smiled.

It’s good to remember the past, anticipate the future, and always be grateful for the present.

Willie Nelson sings about the seasons of life in an oldie but goodie.

Take a break and listen. I think you’ll love it too.

What life season are you in right now?

Are you anticipating something in the future?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Leaf…My Life

Walking down our driveway last week, I spotted the most beautiful leaf. She stood out from the rest. Red. Star-shaped. I decided to make leaf place cards for my Thanksgiving table. I’d choose a leaf for every family member and paint each person’s name on their own special leaf.

This red leaf would be mine.

Heading up the front porch steps, I grabbed a fake orange leaf from the wreath on the door.

Comparing the two leaves, the red one wasn’t so perfect-looking. Little holes dotted her. Parts of her body were torn off.

She’d been through some hard times.

What was I thinking? She’d make a pitiful place card.

I flipped her over. The other side was worse.

Then I examined the artificial leaf. She was perfect. No dark spots. No rips. Shiny.

I decided to use artificial leaves. One at every place setting.

Then a gentle thought came.

Put the real leaf in front of the candle, God seemed to say. Look closer.

The candlelight shines through the holes. Makes her color even brighter

Difficult times in my life came to mind. Burying our baby boy. Daddy dying with brain cancer. My year of depression. Hard things family members are dealing with right now…

I see all your broken and tender places. Torn edges. Scars.

These are the VERY SPOTS where My Light shines brightest.

We’ll have real leaves on our Thanksgiving table this year–one at each place setting.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

My dear readers, what does your leaf (your life) look like? I’m praying for you.

Love,

Julie