A (2nd) Letter to My Pre-born Grandchild

Dear grandbaby,

Your mama told me a few days ago you are about the size of a peach right now. All your parts are in place, head to toe. I like to envision God forming you with massive, but gentle hands. He is a big, big God, and you are one of his tiniest, newest creations.

It's amazing to me and your grandpa that you are already fully known by your Creator. He has fashioned you piece by piece, the way your daddy used to build things with Legos. With much concentration, your father would spend hours building trucks and spaceships and people with Legos, searching for the right block to snap into place. He loved all his little creations and protected them by placing them in safe places in his room. They were special because he made them. God feels the same way about you.

Already, God knows if you will like macaroni and cheese or not. He knows if you will prefer Elsa over Cinderella, or Batman over Superman. He knows if you will have an ear for music, or a love of reading. He knows if, when your daddy swings you high above his head, you will giggle or cry. He knows if you have beautiful curly hair like your mama. He knows if you are ticklish. He knows all about you. We are waiting to discover these things, but God already knows. He's so lucky.

I pray you are comfortable in your mama's belly. She's doing a great job keeping you safe and healthy. She's learning all she can about growing a baby and being a mother. With every passing week, both of you are getting to know one another better and are becoming more attached in a sacred way.

She will be so happy when you arrive. You'll probably cry, because that's what babies do when they are born, and she might cry too, because delivering a baby is emotional for everyone involved, but when you first meet, she will snuggle you close and look into your squished up little face, and you will think, "so this is Mom. Hi, there." And you'll begin to smile every time you see her, because you will know her heartbeat and her aroma and her love for you.

It's a very exciting time, waiting to meet you. It's also very encouraging and lovely to know that God already has.

Love, your grandma, Nana, Mimi, whatever (still working on that title.)

p.s. here are pictures of your parents when they were fairly newly created. This gives us a hint of what you might look like. So fun to imagine!!




Welcome, Sweet Little Plum

I got a sweet phone call this week that reminded me how blessed I am.  (I sent Ms. Grumpy Pants on her way.)

You see, my husband and I are going to be grandparents for the first time in Feb. 2016.  And a few days ago, for the first time, our son and his wife heard the heartbeat of their tiny creation, who is the size of a plum. A sugar plum, for sure, because a baby's heartbeat is the sweetest sound ever.  And our son called to tell me about it.

Isn't it amazing that even though crazy people are running for president, and computers die for no good reason, and head colds keep you up half the night...oh, here springs up new life, pure and unscarred, and warm and cozy in mama's belly? What an encouraging message from God to his children: Yeah, you guys are making a mess of some things down there, but you're only human, after all, and you're lovable anyway, so just keep doing the best you can. I'm with you. I'll help you. And just to keep the awe and wonder going...babies!

It's true, right? Nothing softens an anxious, or unhappy, or angry heart like a newborn. Just wrap 'em up like a burrito and rock 'em while they doze off.  Sniff their downy little heads and doze off yourself. Nothing like it.

Already, I have some things I want our grand baby plum to know. So, I'm going to write this child of God a series of letters, starting with this one. 

Hello precious. This is your Grandma. ('m not crazy about that name. Maybe you and I will come up with another one.) We are going to be buddies. I'm excited to see your beautiful face and snuggle you close to my heart. I'll try to share you with your Grandpa, but I'm not making any promises.  Here are some things I want you to know:

1.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. He is forming you minute by minute and placing in you many gifts to share with the world.  You will be an awesome addition to the planet. 

2. Your mom and dad are already in love with you. They are preparing a cozy home for you with soft blankets and tiny Onsies and some Pooh bears. They're not going to know what they're doing when you first come home, but no one is going to love you more, so be patient. They'll get the hang of it.

3.  I'm praying for you every day. And I will pray with you once you appear. Because there will be days when life gets difficult for you (like when you're two,) and we'll all want God on our side. 

4.  I will pray for you for the rest of my life. Because there will be days when you think you're the Boss (like when you're seventeen), and God will remind you that, no, you're really not, and that might be painful. 

5.  I'm so excited to introduce you to three of my favorite things: your great-great-grandma Nellie's sugar cookies, Dr. Seuss, and Billy Joel. 

That's probably enough for now, as you are so tiny and sleeping most of the time. I'll write more as we grow together. I've never been a Grandma before, and you've never been a grandchild, so we are going to create this new adventure together. 

Sweet dreams, my little plum.

My life is about to change forever.


Trump, Planned Parenthood, and Other Difficulities

I've tried for a week now to write a post, but crummy stuff kept happening that made me think, I can't write about that, so I wrote nothing. I finally decided I'm going to write a grumpy post, because sometimes life just makes me grumpy. And I need to get it out. I'm betting you've been there too.

If all you want today is sunshine and giggles, this is not the post for you. Feel free to click to facebook. I won't mind.

1. I've had a heck of a head cold this week. At times, it has felt like Strep, and then bronchitis, and then a sinus infection. I'm on day 9, and I still can't shift the mucus in my head. That's probably too much information, but, as I said...grumpy post.

2. Donald Trump. I get why the guy is popular, I do. He says what he thinks. What you see is what you get. We don't get that with many politicians. But, seriously...the guy is not a statesman. If America allows him to get as far as the Oval Office, I will be extremely concerned. And awfully grumpy.

3. My portable hard drive died this week.  Quietly, with no warning, it simply stopped working. All my writing, all my photographs for the past five years - buried in a cold, black, plastic rectangle the size of half a sandwich. I was in denial about it for two days, just kept plugging it in, thinking it would work. We even put it in the freezer (some online advice) after which it flickered a bit. This gave me tremendous hope, but then....it loaded nothing. Even with being plugged in all night, the little wheel just kept turning and getting nowhere. I mailed it to my brilliant nephew, Jim, who is an IT specialist, in the hopes that he can work a miracle.  If nothing can be retrieved....I don't even know. I'll be in mourning for awhile.

4. My mom does not seem to be returning to the woman she was two months ago. After a fall and six weeks of various treatments for various issues, she's lost some of her interest in life. She's become fixated on a few things, she prefers to just stay in her room, she wants to sleep a lot, seems withdrawn. She's told me she's ready for heaven, and she seems to be just waiting for Jesus to come get her. I know passing from this life will bring her peace, but I really can't imagine my life without her.  This makes me more sad than grumpy.

5. The Planned Parenthood videos. They are horrific. The worst one I've seen shows bloody, fetal remains. Selling body parts is barbaric, yes, but I have to say, are we not being enlightened about the realities of abortion? We must be BRAVE and WATCH the videos. I know it's hard, because then we have to take responsibility for what we've seen. We need to start doing that too.

6. I'm really missing a friend who moved away a few months ago. We used to walk once a week and vent about our lives and pray about our families and laugh about life's absurdities. I think about her every Friday and talk to her in my head, but it's just not the same.

A heavy couple of weeks.

Some good things happened too, I must tell you:

1. A dear blogger friend, Robyn Campbell, reviewed my ebook (you can see that here: 12 DAYS REVIEW)

2. Our first grandchild is growing along very well. It's now the size of a plum.

3.  My daughter and husband both skydived for the first time and landed safely to say they would do it again in a heartbeat.

I know I have to put weeks like this into perspective. My head understands this. It's just so darn full of mucus right now.

My heart takes longer to to course correct. It likes to drag its sad, little face around and whine. Sometimes, eating chocolate covered graham crackers and listening to a whiny heart is just easier.

I'll snap back in a few days. In the meantime, thanks for listening.


Reflections On a Family Renuion

It seems like I've been off the planet for a while, but I really just went to Denver. I had spotty Internet service in the mountains, so I felt somewhat disconnected. After the initial withdrawal symptoms, it was nice. I played corn hole and watched no television. I hung some clothes on the line and, I felt like Laura Ingalls' neighbor. Half pint and I would have been friends.

I was attending a family reunion that included lots of twists and turns and some unexpected blessings. Over the course of my trip, I had eight plane flights with nary a delay, nor unpleasant seat companions. How often does that happen?

Once the relatives arrived from California and Florida and the Midwest, we had great food, lots of laughs and a few tears as we remembered the death of a loved one eight months ago. I saw cousins I don't see very often. We all decided we're turning into our parents, in appearance and ailments.

Our reunion was hosted by a relative by marriage who had not met any of the regular attendees. She opened her home and refrigerator to strangers, and by the time we all left, she was their favorite person in the room. Only God can open hearts in such a way. We are a blessed family.

As we overate and shared memories, it struck me that people become intimate by sharing their struggles. We can bond over joyous occasions, but true intimacy (into-me-see) comes from sharing a disappointment, a loss, a heartache. Because that's when we realize we are not alone. Every heart has been broken by one thing or another. No one escapes this life unscathed.

No matter what facades we erect, we all have fleshy, vulnerable hearts that long for security and affirmation and peace. It's how we're wired. When people gather in groups, there can be much superficial chit-chat, so I appreciate when people are genuine and open to connecting with another human soul. We had a lot of that at the reunion, aging cousins who shared our worries over declining parents and our hopes for grown kids still finding their way.

Colorado is a long way from Florida - a day's travel and enough of a time difference to mess with my sleep cycle for a few days. But at the Kemp reunions, it seems like we all live just down the street from one another.

Here's a picture from forty years ago...and one we recreated last week with the same cousins. 

Cool, huh?

This group is from my mom's side of the family - my mom who no longer attends the reunions because she's 95 and travel is not an option for her anymore. We called her and passed the phone around, so she could talk with everyone, although she doesn't catch much over the phone. When my mom and her two remaining siblings are gone, this group of cousins will become the elderly group in the family. We still feel like the kids, so this is weird to think about.

I don't know where the time went. But, it sure went fast.


The Book Has Arrived

Look what arrived at the Ballpark this week! It's Christmas in July!

An e-book I've been working on for four years was completed this weekend. It's now available here: THE 12 DAYS.

I had a crash course on e-publishing this past week, and by the grace of God and unending support from our technology wiz daughter, the story I've been encouraged to share for a long time now has a venue. For someone who still has trouble working her cell phone, this is a colossal feat. Thank you, thank you to all who heard me talk about this endeavor for years.

A bit about this baby: Over twenty years ago, our family was anonymously given 12 days of surprises over the holiday season. The daily gifts were small, but precious. The following year, we gave the 12 Days project to someone else. We have been doing this every year since.

The book explains how the project is executed and offers over 100 gift ideas (homemade, baked and purchased), based on the lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Christmas" song. It also shares how receiving this gift so long ago changed my heart about holiday giving.

If you are tired of and frazzled by the holiday chaos that accompanies Christmas (I was) and are looking for a way to create a different atmosphere in your home during the month of December, this book is for you. If you want to teach your children in a very hands-on way that Christmas is about giving, not consuming, this book is for you. If you want a fun, sneaky, holiday adventure, this book is for you. If you want to learn how to make Octopus bread, this book is for you.

Thanks to everyone who visits the Ballpark now and again. You are the peeps I most want to share this with.