When I Leave The Room

Natalie Grant - Relentless Cover photo

Natalie Grant – Relentless Cover photo

I recently was shown the following video by Natalie Grant. It is specifically for mothers and how they love and care for their children. I have three children of my own, and this song depicts the heart of a mother as no other song I’ve ever heard. Listen, cry and share with all who need to be encouraged in their role as a mother or even for those who are daughters.

I miss my Mom, but I’m so grateful she placed my hands in Jesus’ hands when she was ready to go. What a hope I’ve been given and treasure.

A Slice Of [Mom’s] Life

Photo Credit: www.bbc.co.uk

Photo Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk

Today I want to share with you an article I wrote for our neighborhood newsletter in August of 2004 about a very special day. 

My Mom and I love going out to lunch together. We have done this almost every week since I got married over 25 years ago. One particular week she picked where we were to go, but first she wanted us to stop by an old friend’s house. Her name was Mary. She explained that Mary was a writer and knowing my desire to one day write a book about the life of my grandmother, she wanted us to meet. I was happy to go, but not sure about meeting her friend. Sometimes arranged meetings such as this don’t go over the way intended. I had no idea what was about to happen.

My Mom grew up in Clermont, a bedroom community to the west of Orlando, where everyone knows everyone else. Even though this town is changing rapidly, somehow Mary’s house had avoided any change. As we pulled into her dirt driveway, I felt as though I was leaving the year 2004 behind. Suddenly, I found myself entering a strange new, but old world–my mother’s childhood. Mary met us at her squeaky screen door, which led us from her clapboard porch to a dimly lit paneled living room. There her husband stood, cane in hand, with a smile large enough to make any stranger feel like family. His handshake indicated confidence. I liked them both immediately.

Mary quickly led us up the wooden stairs to her office. As we sat among her treasures, books from every subject, age and size, I felt as if I was sitting inside her personal journal. In this room was Mary’s life, and she had gladly opened up her volumes to share with me her love for writing. I was deeply affected.

As I listened to two old friends reminisce, I realized that I was privileged to see my mom from a completely different perspective. Here sat, not my mom, but a little girl and her best friend talking of how they used to play in this very room. Mom mentioned how she would always run to this room first, because she loved the packed toy chest that used to sit below the window where Mary’s computer was now located. Her face revealed the joy this moment was bringing to her. Hearing them talk, I could actually see them in their childhood finding pleasure in the simple things of life. I was reminded of how quickly time passes. As they spoke of their lives 75 years ago, it was as if only days had passed, not decades.

I’m so glad I had this moment to glimpse into the past, for this is the stuff of which books are made. Mary helped me in my quest for capturing my grandmother’s story more than she’ll ever know; she introduced me to her youngest daughter, my mom.

Moments like these are rarely planned. They usually happen upon us when we least expect them, and we fail to remember all we heard because we weren’t giving the moment our full attention. I can remember this day with my mom as if it were yesterday. I never saw Mary and her husband again, so I am all the more grateful to God for giving me this time for Mom to show me a very special slice of her life.

This leads to our next question to ask an older member of your family:

Question #8 – Who was your closest childhood friend and what did you enjoy doing together?

Note: My mom’s friend is a famous writer of children’s books. Her name is Mary Rose Pearson, and you can check out her books HERE.

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This is post #8 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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Tell It To Your Children and Your Children’s Children

Photo Credit: Pam, The Nomad blog

Photo Credit: Pam, The Nomad blog

A hundred years ago, before radio or television was invented, families sat around after dinner telling stories from their experiences. My Mom knew much of her family history simply by listening to the stories over and over again as told by her parents and grandparents. What a great way to tell their children and grand-children about life and what they had learned along the way.

But families don’t do this so much anymore. Of course, there are those who are intentional and do this on a regular basis (click the picture above to hear about one family who is intentional). But to those who are more comfortable clicking the “on” button on the remote than you are waiting in the silence while someone thinks how to answer a question, please give this month’s challenge a try. You never know what treasures of history are waiting to be discovered and how it might affect you. And most likely you will laugh when you hear the stories told in a way that makes it unforgettable.

Why is it that when we look back to when we were younger the days seemed better and life seemed easier? But was it really? Or are we simply choosing to remember the parts we liked or the parts we can make sense of? One thing is certain, we can learn from our past as well as the past of those who have gone before us. Most are willing to talk about it because the time and distance has made the story easier to discuss. This brings us to our next question that I would like to hear how you would answer this question, as well as encourage you to ask someone in your family whom you don’t already know the answer they would give.

Question #5

What did you love most about where you grew up? 

 

“Generations pass like leaves fall from our family tree. Each season new life blossoms and grows benefiting from the strength and experience of those who went before.”

Author: Heidi Swapp

 

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I am taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.
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We’ve Always Done It That Way

I was visiting my mom today. 🙂 We were talking about strange traditions, and I remembered a story I once heard. It went something like this:

One day a Mother was showing her daughter how to make roast beef. As she prepared the meat she cut it in half and placed it in the roasting pan. The daughter asked her why she cut the roast in half, to which she replied, “I don’t know. This is how my Mama did it.”

The next day the daughter asked her grandmother why she cut her roasts in half before cooking them, to which she replied, “I don’t know. This is how my Mama did it.”

The following day the daughter visited her great-grandmother who was living in a nursing home. She curiously asked why she used to cut her roasts in half before cooking it, to which her great-grandmother replied, “Oh, land sakes, it was because my wood stove was too small for the roast to fit whole. I had to cut it in half to have have enough to feed the family.”

My Mom laughed out loud when I told her this story. How many times are traditions created out of necessity? What starts out as a need quickly becomes a preference handed down from generation to generation.

Do you have any traditions that seem strange to you? Have you ever asked how they originated? You may be surprised to hear the story. You never know until you A.S.K.

Mimeograph Memories

I am so close to publishing my book I can smell the ink on the page. I remember as a child loving the smell of mimeograph work sheets at my elementary school. It’s sad to think children today will never know what I’m talking about. This leads me to the reason I’ve written my grandmother’s story. For as long as I can remember, my mom has shared much of it with me, with all of our family. By God’s grace I’ve finally captured it in written form and will soon be able to share it with you.

My mom is a great historian. She has worked tirelessly for years on our family genealogy.  In fact, she’s currently working on the timeline for the sequel to Through The Eyes Of Grace. She is an amazing inspiration to me, and one of the main reasons I’ve been compelled to share this story with you. If it weren’t for her I would have nothing to share. Like the forgotten smell of ink on white paper.

What stories are in your family of which you’ve yet to hear? It is your story and deserves to be handed down to the next generation. Do you have someone in your family like my mom? Someone who is documenting your amazing history? If not, let my book help you become your family’s historian. I’ve provided a Family Questionnaire at the back of the book to help you ask good questions of your elders before it’s too late.

Here are a few of the over 50 questions provided:

  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Where did you grow up? Did you have a house? An Apartment?
  • What kinds of toys did you like to play with?
  • What do you remember most about your family’s traditions?
  • How did your parents meet?

Teasing Comes Naturally, I’m Afraid

Uncle Billy teasing Norah

Yes, I’m prone to teasing, ask my family. I get it naturally from my brother who is the master! But I’ve learned my brother is a lot like my grandfather who died when I was only 4. I don’t remember much about him, except that he loved his eggs scrambled in a pan with hot sausage served over a bed of grits. And you know what? This is how I like breakfast as well. He also smoked a pipe and would let me help him light it whenever I was around. I still love the scent of pipe tobacco, I guess because it brings back fond childhood memories.

So what does teasing have to do with today’s post? I want to “tease” you with the first half of the Prologue to my soon-to-be published book. I’m hoping it will entice you to want to read more. All good stories have a strong hook–read the following and let me know if I’ve managed to tease you for more! If so, you’ll have to wait another week to read the rest.

Prologue

June 1979

With a nervous exhale I opened the heavy door.  The clock tower struck one, two…fading away as the door closed behind me.  The foyer was dark and smelled of centuries-old stories, never to be told.  A hush followed each group of well-meaning guests as they entered the sanctuary.  I was next.  My hands were clammy; I felt nauseous.  I wasn’t ready to see…her, not in this way.  My eyes were darting back and forth, desperately searching for something when I saw it; right in the middle of the large oak table was a gift wrapped in lavender and lace.  As my eyes adjusted, I noticed my name scribbled on the card; who on earth? I couldn’t believe…

“Miss?” The usher interrupted my questions with his extended arm.  I supposed it was his job to escort me to where the rest of the family were seated.

My knees threatened to buckle under me as we started down the aisle.  How often I had come to this church with Big Mama.  She was a founding member and loved it dearly.  And if she had anything to say about it, I would love it too.

As I passed one pew I expected to see Mr. Pemberton stand and greet me with a butterscotch candy from his white suit pocket.  He always sat in the back, but not today; Mr. Pemberton was long gone, and now Big Mama was too–nothing would be the same.

“Greetings, friends! On behalf of the family of Grace Stella Oswalt, I would like to say thank you for coming to show your respects to such a God-fearing woman.”

I made it to the family pew just in time.  Sniffles sounded in unison as I held my breath trying not to join in.  I knew if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop.  Mama knowingly slipped a handkerchief in my hand as the preacher continued.

“Grace, wife of the late William Marion Oswalt, was the mother of six but is survived only by her daughter, Claire; nine grandchildren and many, many great-grandchildren…”

Six children? I didn’t know Big Mama had six children.  I knew my Uncle Vic and Aunt Ruby.  What happened to the others?

“Please stand as we sing Grace’s favorite hymn on page 56 of your hymnals.”

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…

What else didn’t I know? For a moment I felt a deep sadness for the stories that would be buried with her.

…I once was lost, but now I’m found.  Was blind, but now I see.

It was true.  Big Mama loved this hymn.  When I was little she would often play it on her piano as I sat next to her on the bench.  Her voice would crack, and I would sing off key, but the words never lost their meaning for her.  When we got to the third verse, she always seemed caught up in another world.

…through many dangers toils and snares.  I have already come.  Twas grace hath brought me safe thus far.  And grace twill lead me home.

Glancing at my watch, I hoped it was almost over.

“The family would like to invite you to join them graveside following this service, and then for dinner in the church social hall,” the pastor announced.

What? Another service and dinner, too? I hadn’t been to many funerals in my nineteen years, and this was the first in our family.  It was as painful as I feared it would be.

My Mom knew what I was thinking without a word.  Heaviness pressed against me; the back door offered my first chance to escape.  I jumped to my feet ready to be the first one out the back, but a tall, sliver of a man appeared.  I was unaware of the tradition–family is always escorted out separately.  He said nothing, only pointed with his opened palm towards the side door.  I had missed my chance and silently followed Mama to a waiting limousine.