Friday, July 30, 2010

A Face of the Times

If you are reading this, I can reasonably assume that you are beyond Jr. High/Middle School age, and if that's the case I can also reasonably assume that you've been taught at least some modicum of history involving America's Great Depression of the 1930's. Besides reading or listening to how dire those times were, you would also have seen photos of those times - of the men, women, and children who suffered want and woes. Those were hard times.
These are hard times, too. It may not look as bad now as it did then, but we are not so much an agrarian society as we were then, and the false facade provided by credit cards have masked the dire difficulties that many people live in today. This morning on the radio, embedded in the newscast, was a foreclosure statistic for our area. Currently, as many as 1 home out of 125 are in foreclosure. That's a lot of homes. That's a lot of families.

It has been 17 months since John lost his job. In all that time we've not had income enough to cover our living expenses, but we did have sizable savings tucked away and things are beginning to look up in the employment department. So, we've been able to keep our home, have lived carefully, and have watched the hand of God help us again and again.

Yesterday, I was at the gas station filling my tank with my weekly allotment of gas when a man approached me. Now this gas station is very public and very popular since it has the lowest prices in our area, so I wasn't afraid of him since so many people were there. This man came up carefully and reluctantly, and said, "We're from Grassland. We lost our home in the flood. Things haven't worked out and we're trying to make it down to Shelbyville to live with my in-laws." He paused. Now I've seen a lot of pan-handlers in my lifetime, but there was a kind of pain in this man's voice and eyes that I'd not seen before - at least not in real life. But, then I remembered those Depression-era photos of broken men and women and realized that this was what was standing before me.

"I don't do this kind of thing, but I have to now. We have about 40 miles to go and our tank is empty. Do you have a couple of dollars to spare? I thought maybe I could borrow a little here and there." His voice was choked and tears were brimming in his eyes. If he was a fake, he deserved an Oscar. But the pain in that man's face was as obvious as the hard tan and worn clothes that he wore. His wife sat in their small car parked at the curb looking straight ahead.

I told him that I understood what it was like to be in the middle of a hard time, that we'd lost our income, that God had provided for us, and of course I had a couple of dollars to share with him. He dropped his head in humiliation and expressed his thanks with profuse apology. As I went to check my wallet, I discovered that all I had was a $10 and a $20 which had to last another 3 days. Remembering God's faithfulness to me, without hesitation I took the $10 and told him that I didn't have a couple of dollars but could give him $10. He almost looked frantic at that point and after stumbling for words said, "I'm not any sort of predator or anything, but if you'd like to give your address to my wife we will pay you back." He was pleading as he sought to distinguish himself from the average bum. Again I told him that God had provided, that I had enough to share, and someday he could help someone else out who was down on their luck. He took my hand and shook it, saying thanks only with tearful eyes. As I left, he and his wife were putting some gas in their tank.

I don't tell you this to brag on what I did. To the contrary, I look back and wish I'd given him the $20. My heart breaks for this family, and for all the families that find themselves in these kinds of straits. Time are hard. God is faithful.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Funny Babes

I found four day-planner calendars recently while looking for some old yearbooks and photographs. They date from 1983-1986, years that my two eldest were very young and when my third-born arrived. Looking through these calendars with all my ordinary day-to-day notes was sure a trip down Memory Lane! It was poignant and surprising ... how did I manage to get all that stuff done with multiple little children?? It makes me tired just reading it! One thing, though, that tickled me greatly was reading my occasional comment about what one of the children said that day.

Kristin: says "Bye-bye" while walking away.
Candy canes are "K-k's" or "Cuppy-cuppy"
Santa Clause is "Tanta Cause"
Jingle Bells is "DeeBoBo"
Gingerbread Men are "Dindo-mah-bey"
It's pretty clear that Kristin's lingual abilities really kicked in about Christmastime.
Eric, 4, wanted to "kill some Easter eggs" that year .... meaning that he wanted to dye them. 'Kill', 'dye'... you know.

Eric: "I have two arm-skulls!" Skulls meaning bones - I laughed about that one for awhile.
About Peaches, our dog: "Peaches is broke-housen." Of course, I still talk like that to this day.

Kristin comments about Eric who is hiding: "We don't have a little boy any more!"
Kristin: In April - "Can we have a Christmas Hunt?" meaning that she wanted to hide candy canes and hunt for them.
In December - "When do we get to gun the Easter Eggs?" She apparently hadn't gotten the holiday traditions
straightened out, and she got stuck on the dye word, too, just like her brother did.
Eric: (And this just cracked me up.) "O Lord, your kingdom is good and indigestible!"

Upon learning they had a baby brother:
Eric: "Does he like jets?"
Kristin: "I knew it was a boy."
Some things just never change.

I wish I'd written more things down over the years, and sometime perhaps I'll find some other notes while I'm looking for something. A little while back I saw a small notebook that was devoted to writing down kids' sayings, so I bought one for Kristin since her boys are at the age of uttering those entertaining things. In 25 years or so, I know she'll get a good laugh when she reads that little notebook.

In closing, let me share with you some recent cute quotes from my young grandsons.
Gilbert, age 4: "The moon isn't plugged in. It doesn't have batteries, either."
Patrick, age 3: "C'mere, Bobert!" (translation: Come here, Gilbert!)
I know we're going to have many more years of entertainment out of the mouths of babes! Now, what are some favorite sayings of your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews? Please, entertain us!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Serving Stars

Military service is no rarity in my family. My Grandfather served in the Civil Air Patrol, some of my great-uncles served in the Army and Marines during WWII in the European and Pacific theaters respectively; other uncles have served in the Navy, Army, and Coast Guard; cousins have served in the Navy, Army, and National Guard; my father and father-in-law both served in the Navy during the Korean War; and last but not least, my husband served in the Navy as a pilot just as the Vietnam War came to a close.

We have photos and stories and relics from all those men's service - it was just a given part of the life of our family. So, why were John and I so surprised that 3 out of 4 of our children have chosen life in the military? John especially was always careful to impress upon the kids that they shouldn't do something just because he had done it. That kind of pressure on a child never ends up well! But, we finally concluded that, really, it was just natural that they made the decisions they did. So I'm celebrating their decisions by sporting a 3-star Service Flag on the back of my car, and it just amazes me each time I look at it!
The most recent addition to this military tradition is son, Justin, who graduated from Army Boot Camp at Ft. Benning, Georgia just this past Thursday. Justin had spent his last few years reveling in the academic areas of language and Biblical studies and spent the bulk of his college studies in these areas. We had fully expected him to combine these affections and go into education. But, he didn't - he enlisted in the Army! After the shock subsided, it began to slowly dawn on me just what he did during his entire childhood and high school years - playing soldier! He read about military actions and heros of all eras. He had collected gear from WWII, made his own chain mail, shields, and other knightly wear, and became a Civil War re-enactor. He loved it! And now he's a real soldier, and we are proud of him!
Daughter Kristin has loved history since she knew history existed! In particular she has had great affection for the Civil War era and became not only a re-enactor, but a docent, National Battleground Park tour guide, and researcher of one of the great Southern generals, Hiram Grandbury. Now she is married to her own soldier/soon-to-be-chaplain and will be serving her country along with her sons as a military family. We are proud of her and her soldiers!
Eldest son, Eric, serves in the USMC as a Harrier pilot, recently completing a tour in Afghanistan where he was an integral part of the Marjah Offensive. He spent his teenage years competing with his horses, but ultimately decided to take the path of an earlier interest - his love of aircraft and flying. He, along with wife Kelly and son Omari serve their country as the best of Marine families. We are proud of them.
And finally, daughter Katie. Will she, too, join this little group of 3 service stars? Nah..... but we wouldn't be surprised is she's the kind of star who entertains those service stars! And we're just as proud of her, too!