Monday, September 10, 2012

The Grapevine

There are moments in time that lock into our minds, into our hearts. Precious moments that are just under the surface or perhaps deep in our subconscious that surface to reconnect us to the very core of who we are.
Before I married at age 18 I had lived in 17 different houses. My parents divorced when I was four and my mother, my brother, my sister and I moved to the Hamptons where my grandparents and the extended family had settled. For this reason we moved sometimes seasonally to be able to afford the rent which were very high in the summer months. With  all of these moves there is still one house that pops into my mind when I think of 'my childhood home'.
The Rat House. It was a beautiful home built in the 1700s. It had low ceilings, slanted floors, hiding places behind the chimney and rats. The walls were about 12" thick allowing lots of places for the rats to  nest. In the summer months the lived in the fields that surrounded the house and were only driven in when it was too cold to live outdoors. Several occasions we had 'face to face' meetings with these rodents including the night one decided to warm himself in the covers of my sister's bed...
But that is not my story today.
It was necessary for my mother to work full time. It was also necessary for us to take care of ourselves while she was out. But the 'Rat House' had so many adventures to offer! The horse chestnuts made for great playthings as we set up entire villages. Each nut was pryed out of it's sharp spinney shell and the beautiful smooth nuts became our beautiful people. Sometimes there would even be 'twins' revealed when we opened the shell much to our delight. We also set up 'olympic' training camps with pole vaulting, weight lifting and broad jumping using rocks and sticks and lots of imagination. Collecting pennies we would line them on the railroad track and put our ears to the rail as we waited for the train to come. On the rail the sound could be heard a long way off. Digger of course would tease us and pretend he did not hear it coming. Effectively scaring us and causing the engineer to blow his whistle.
It was on one of these walks to the track that we discovered the wild grapes. They were large, round and purple. I am guessing something along the lines of a concord. They were sour with seeds but we collected all we could and I imagine ate more than we should. The day was delightful. It must have been late summer or early fall. I would have been six years old. Fifty years ago. But that moment in time is as clear as if I were there right now. It was perfect. I still sense the closeness I felt to my brother and sister and the pride of telling our mother about our awesome find.
I moved to Manteo, NC seventeen years ago. After a year we bought a home on the north end of our little island. It is a 'homey' place that meets up with wooded undeveloped lots in the backyard. The brush that we have left on the boarder of the property provides a buffer of sorts and gives us a sense of privacy. Yesterday I was working in the garden and was doing a little 'walk around' on our property. It was then that I saw them. Big beautiful wild grapes. Not unlike those of my childhood. These would not be the exact variety and are somewhat sweeter than those of my memories. In the moment I saw them I was carried back..back in time, back in miles, back into the deepest place of happiness I could remember from a difficult childhood. Thankful does not truly express how I felt seeing these beautiful clusters..but that is part of it. Thankful for a childhood rich with memories of the simpler time. Thankful for my brother and sister and the bond that goes from the cradle to the grave. Thankful that my grandchildren will pick grapes like I did and pucker their lips at the sour sweetness. Thankful for the moments that define the years. The moments that attach us and carry us through difficult times in our lives and connect us with cords that can not be broken.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Recently I have not had too many things coming up that I felt a 'need' to blog. Once in a while something will simmer just below the surface but not quite come to the surface. Not so today. In fact there are three blogs wanting to be birthed tonight and I am not sure yet wish direction to go. But there is one common thread. Each blog was conceived in prayer. A story that I came across yesterday that I wrote twenty eight years ago...a prayer I had for Gwenn and Nick... and a prayer journal entry that I happened upon..I will choose the last to be the first.
This blog "A Grandmother's Heartbeat" began as a way for me to share about my family and more correctly my grandchildren. So that is what I will share tonight. A pray for my grandchildren. What follows is part of a journal entry:

I pray that they will all come to know you at an early age. I pray that they will have the heart and mind of Christ. keep them from temptation and the evil desires of this world. Create in them a place that will only be satisfied with you. Make them a witness to their generation. (the following is what brought me to this blog)
For Katie- a sharp mind and a sweet spirit
For Nia- the ability to reach far to touch the lives of wounded children
Micah- for grace and laughter
Abbie- the gift of friendship
Josiah- great strength and patience
Nico- peace and assurance of your love
Evie- a merry heart and a kind spirit.

Mostly Lord give each the gift of salvation. I ask that you would be raising up Godly spouses for each of these dear children. my babies. my heartbeat.

I love that I recorded this pray. And here is why- it took me a little while to realize that I prayed this prayer BEFORE Josiah and Evie were even born! We had not met Nico yet as he was still in Haiti waiting to come home to Gwenn and Nick.It was written on May 5th, 2007. Five years ago this week.
Katie was 5 years old, Nia and Micah were 3, Abbie was 2. I had some idea maybe about the older ones..but some of these things must have been straight from the heart of God.
Katie is a very smart girl but the thing that impresses everyone is that she has a very sweet spirit..
Nia - When this was written it was not even a plan that her family would move to Haiti. When they did and when children started to enter their home Nia was the one to warmly welcome them and love them and comfort them. She has the gift of empathy that 'touches the lives of wounded children'.
Micah: I don't have a specific answer for this prayer except that maybe he needs a lot of grace and good humor to live with 3 sisters!
Abbie: only a baby when this was prayed but Abbie has become the outgoing and friendly child that makes friends easily and loves them dearly.
Josiah..born  needing open heart surgery he was born strong allowing him to overcome and heal. And patience..well that was for all of us dealing with that little rascal!
Nico..Nico is always talking about the love of Jesus. He is a Jesus lover BIG TIME..before I ever met him God knew that his little heart would be tender to the things of God.
And Evie..remember she was not yet born : A Merry heart..for sure..a kind spirit like her mom.
For those of you who know my grandchildren I know you can testify to these truths.

God answers our prayers when we are lining up our will with His. If I had prayed "Lord make them the best "whatever" I don't think that He would have answered that prayer. Being a dancer or musician or football player while not bad things in themselves  are not  important to God. He is more concerned with the condition of our heart. He desires to give us gifts and fruits not talents and things. Hard work can get us talent and things. Work can never get us Love, Joy, Peace , Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness or Self Control. Have you ever tried to love some one that you can't stand? Have you tried to make yourself joyful when you are in the pit of despair? Have you tried to have peace when your world is falling apart?/ You may grasp fleeting moments but you cannot attain any of these attitudes on your own.
Lest I go off in 100 different directions (note title of blog "I have some much to say".) Let me get back to my point. First - We need to remember how important it is to pray. Then we need to from time to time go back. Remember what you asked God for and then thank Him for answering you.
I don't know why after all these years I am still so amazed when I see what God does. Amazed and delighted. Pray for your baby before he is born. Before he is conceived. Pray for your husband before you meet him. Pray that he is growing in faith and patience and wisdom and integrity. Pray gifts and fruits into the lives of your children and grandchildren and into your own life. God wants to answer these prayers. He loves to delight you. He is waiting for you to ask. And then thank Him.

I thank You now Lord for the qualities that you have sown into the lives of the children and I pray for all the other grandchildren that came into my life since I wrote that prayer journal. Thank you that you have carved their name on the palm of your hand.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The gospel and love translate without words.

Nana is  avèk ou always. Jezi is avèk ou always.
In the three years that my heart has been turned toward the island of Hispaniola I have longed to communicate with the population of the Haitian people whom my daughter lives and works with. I have studied with lisening to CDs in the car and repeating after the speaker pharses like "Would you like beer or wine?" and "No, I don't want to go to your house I want to go to the hotel." I have practiced reading and speaking the Haitian language of Creole using the online tutorial at and last winter when visiting Gwenn and Nick I hired a Haitian tutor to work with me every night after the children went to bed. In the afternoons they would help me with my homework and laugh at how badly I butchered their native tounge.
I learned the important things like : "Childen, come." , "Children, eat." and my personal favorite "Settle down" which is something like "poze". I used this a lot at meal time when the children's voices would echo off the walls and I would tell the children "Poze! You are hurting Nana's ears. They would laugh and tone it down a notch for a minute or two.
As I am learing more creole the children are learning more English. So we are meeting somewhere in the middle. Except for Manita.

Manita, the youngest girl in my daugther's home is a spunky little spit fire. She will run up to me rambleing full speed as if by some magic I would not have the same response I had ten minutes earlier: "Nana pa konprann kreyòl." (Nana does not understand Creole). She continues to ramble and then will finally get Nia to tell Nana what she is trying to communicate. She will climb up on my lap to have me read her a story (in English) and we study the pictures together and share the names of the objects with each other. I have told people I love them when I meant to say "What is your name?" No harm done ...right..?
I have connected at different levels with each of the Haitian children whom I consider my grandchildren. Some seem to have no doubt I am part and parcel of this whole 'family' thing. All of them know that when Nanny comes there is likely to be some surprises in her overstuffed bags. And I am thankful for each of these precious children in my life.
Everyone knows it is not right to have 'favorites'. I really don't favor one more than the others..but there is one whom I have a special bond with. I don't understand it very well but I think it has something to do with my brother.
Digger had a tough childhood. When my father left he felt rejected and abandoned. It made him angry and bitter and tough. And fiercely loyal and protective toward my sister and me. He was sometimes mean as a hornet. But I knew that I knew that I knew that he was there for me. If he caught you smoking a cigarette he might put it out on your stomach ..but he did have to make you not want to smoke. Reasonable actually. But back to Haiti...
The first time I met Yves was on my first visit after the earthquake. He was twice orphaned and living in a refugee camp alone before he came into my daugthter's home. He was angry and bitter and mean. But..when I would be struggling to get up in the back of the truck he would be the one to hold out his hand to help me up. He would pat the seat beside him and say "Nana" and get angry if anyone else tried to take that spot. But he totally won me over the morning that I was preparing to leave to come back to the US.  We had a long ride over the mountains to the airport. Our ride was leaving at 4 AM. As I rounded the stairwell there sat Yves. Sitting and waiting. Waiting to say goodbye. I was beyond honored. I was back with my brother and I wanted more than anything to be able to communicate freely with this young man.
As fate would have it and God would allow I went 14 months between my last to visits to Haiti. A lot of growning happens in 14 months. Especially when children who were once under nourished and living on the streets are now living with three meals a day and sleeping in a bead. Many of the children were maturing and becoming teens. Voices changing, taller, stronger...growing up. Yves while growing up on the outside was still struggling on the inside. His behaviour caused many problems in the home and full time staff was hired to 'look after' him. He isolated himself from his family and his peers by him angry outbursts. He needed to become responsible for his destructive behaviour.
When I arrived in Haiti last month the bond I had with Yves continued. He wanted to please me all the time. He would jump to carry things for me and anticipate my needs and rush to meet them. He wanted to work by my side and was eager to learn whatever I would teach him.

The next day when I had to say good bye to him was agony. I wanted so much to say so much...  I told him that God understands. I asked him if he missed his family. He started to cry. I asked "Do you remember your mother's name?" He said "Yes". He told me the names of his mother, father, sister and brother. And he continued to cry. And I cried with him. I put one of my hands on my own heart and one hand on his and told him "Nana is avèk ou always" ( Nana is with you always) and then the hand that was on my heart I extended to heaven and said "Jezi is avèk ou always" (Jesus is with you always.) As our tears ran down our cheeks the other curious children began to huddle around whispering about the fact that Yves was crying. And then with a motion from the front gate his ride was ready to go. He said " I have to go now." We hugged and he turned and left.
Having worked in youth ministry for many years I knew there was so much left to say and I felt like I had failed him. For all my practicing and parroting my words were just not enough.
Re-entry was a  little harder this time for there was so much more I wanted to do. It was a great trip on so many levels. But coming to church that first Wed night I was still feeling such a burden for Yves. I asked Pastor Rob, who had been a troubled youth himself if he would pray with me. The power of the Spirt of God was palatable. He prayed against the powers of darkness that held him. He prayed for his mind, body and spirit. He prayed that the power of God would fall on him and he would be delivered... and he prayed..and then he prayed some more.
The following night as bible study I asked for prayer again not willing to stop praying until an answer came. And we prayed.
The next day Gwenn wrote me a simple email. "Great news!" was in the subject line. The night before Yves had gone with the family to a revival meeting at one of the camps. He asked Christ into his heart. I read the email through sobs. I messaged Pastor Robb and the Brandi who leads the Bible Study with her husband. God's faithful hand was so powerful.
I do believe that God used me to plant seeds in Yves heart.My faltering words did not matter.My words were not important.  The grandmother  seed that says "I am with you." The seed that says "Even if you are a jerk I love you. " The seed that says "You can." That was what God trusted me to give. I believe God used Pastor Robb. I believe He used the Bible Study group. I believe the prayer of agreement broke down strong holds that needed to come down. But more than all of these I believe that God placed Yves with Gwenn and Nick so that he could be re parented and come to understand 'family'. God knew that Yves would come to know Him. He also knew that the road to healing and wholeness would not be accomplished with one trip to the alter. Each day Yves will have to wake up and decide this day whom he will serve. So glad he has a family to help him to make good choices.
Tomorrow Yves will get baptized. Nia will be baptized as well. Two very different stories. One never changing God A God who is not a respecter of  language. His gospel is not understood with words.For He speaks to the heart. And  now ...the story begins.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

Today is in the tradition of the Christian church known as Maundy Thursday. It is a day of remembrance. It is the day when we think about the words of our Messiah as He broke bread and  had fellowship with His closest followers. His closest friends. He knew as He knelled in front of Judas to wash his feet that within hours this same man would offer to Him the 'kiss of death'.
As a woman who is facing the birth of her child He knew that no one else could do this for Him. He knew the only way through it was to go through it. Unlike the woman in labor He would not cradle a precious babe and be able to forget the pain as "water gone by". There would not be encourages around Him. Only mockers. And when He cried out to the only One who truly understood His pain that One would turn His back and forsake Him. The Father God. The only Son.
Last night at Source church Pastor Frank was not there so Pastor Robb brought the Word to us. He spoke of the blood. Life is in the blood. Without blood there is no life. He spoke of the Cross. The life giving blood.
I have pictured myself at that scene. I like to think that I am brave enough to stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the mother and the 'other' Mary. I like to think that I am loyal and that I would not have left Him. I see his blood on the His head, His hands, His feet...the cross, the ground and yes even on me for to be this close it surly would have smeared my cheeks.
I think back to the death of my father. He died of cancer. I was not with him for the long months of his illness but was there for his last days. He coughed and with the cough came blood and it stained my shirt. It was precious. It was intimate. It was not gross or ugly. I was close enough...
But in the end Jesus was alone.
As Pastor Robb spoke of Jesus on the cross he spoke of Him crying out to the Father. At the moment he spoke the word "Father" a baby who was seated right behind me at the exact moment said "DaDa". In the moment all of the divinity that is Jesus on the cross collided with all the humanity of the baby in Bethlemhem. His cry on the cross was not to some far away theoligical diety. His cry was "Abba, Daddy!" and His Father turned His back as the life blood left His body. As He breathed His last and died.
Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Thank you Jesus for your blood that covers me.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Going Deeper

I sit here at my computer on on 10 minute break from my 10 minute challange.(See previous post) I gotta say, this is working for me. Now that I am on track and have completed the first challange each day I do it I go deeper. Like today, I had just spent 10 minutes yesterday cleaning the bathroom. The basic stuff, the shower the sink the mirror, the toilet. So that did not need to be done today again. Still I had 10 min. committed to that room. So today I wiped down the fixtures and then had 8 minutes to straighten up the towel shelves and start to clean up the closet. Then, while doing my 10 min. laundry bit I had time to dump out that ever present, ever growing sock bag, make matches AND THROW OUT EVERY SOCK THAT DID NOT HAVE A MATE! I only have to go back in my cycle to the kitchen whick naturally takes more time. I included the porches today and was able to dead head the flowers AND fix the little fountain out there. Now I need to add on the upstairs in to the routine. I jump started my office last night. So many papers- I hate that part. Now before the buzzer rings..gotta go. My 10 minutes are nearly up!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where's my watch?

For months..ok, for years I talked about being able to retire from the Post Office on Oct 11, 2011. I had a few false starts over the years, near misses or maybe near hits when I almost left earlier. The last time I held out for one last year for a better retirement offer. (Which ended up being less than if I actually left a year ago.) That is not my blog however. This is my blog: I am retired!!!!
In October I was going to hold out for a few extra weeks and just end my time with my departure for my long awaited trip to Haiti. When I received the news of cancer the trip was cancelled and the retirement postponed to avail myself of the sick leave that I would have lost completely otherwise.So basically I went out on sick leave and just didn't go back.  I was operated on on October 10th just one day shy of my original retirement day. My retirement day got switched from October 31 until Nov 30.
Dealing with cancer and having my home filled with my wonderful daughters and grandchildren gave me little time to dwell on this retirement thing. Then Gwenn went back to Haiti and Melody and the girls left for PA and the house was quiet so I dove in to my new reality..for a few days. Then Gwenn and Nick got robbed and Gwenn and the children came in and I postponed the retirement idea for a while.
It is not like I got up early like on work days for the last 26 years. Not at all. But I just didn't have time to redefine what my life would become without punching a time clock.
Right after Gwenn and the children left I was sick so it began to feel like a new normal would never be realized.
 The day arrived! Finally on Monday, Jan 16th  more than three months since my last work day it is sinking in. And I am starting to carve out a plan....Lord only knows about that! I fully understand my time is in His hands. Each day a gift and a blessing. I have dreams and visions. I am excited about tomorrow and the next tomorrow and the next.
Pastor Frank spoke on New Year's day about the scripture "without vision my people perish". (Isaiah) I want to have huge visions and I want to see God bring them to pass.I want to learn. I want to grow. I want to go . I want to teach. I want to share. I want to encourage. I want to live a life of passion for the things that my God is passionate about. I want to minister to my children and my grandchildren. I want to minister to my husband Steve and create a home that is a refuge. I want to have meaningful time with each of my grandchildren. I want to teach them the secrtes of the universe and the secrets of my heart. I want to carry their secrets safely never demeaning them for their childish fears or frustrations.
I want to learn home to cook wholesome, healthy, great tasting food that even Steve will like. I want to learn how to discipline myself in so many areas.
I want to spend time in Haiti. I want to see what God is planning for my company Jacmel Bay (doesn't count as work cause I love it so much :) I want to serve my church and my community. I want to be free to study the Word with woman.....during the DAY time! I want to be free to visit my children, my sister and my sister in law and my aunts and uncles..and the more I type the more excited I am becoming because y'all I AM RETIRED!!!! I have cleaned out my refrigerator, freezer, several cabinets, washed the bathroom floor, started a class on Tues night.. It's real..It's real..It's real!!!!!!!
Ok..where is my gold  watch? I think people get gold watches when they retire. Forget the watch. Who needs a golden watch when you have golden time?