Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Held a Place for You Today

 For Mindy, Pixie, and Linda, my Tuesday morning prayer circle and lifeline:

I held a place for you today,
sitting thoughtfully, quietly on the bench in front of the church
in bright daylight
listening to the trees, teeming with life:
birds calling,
squirrels chirping,
crows caw-ing,
owl hooting in the distance.
No question of God's presence
through creatures who also call our church their home.


I held a place for you today,
cool breeze on my cheek,
wispy gray clouds moving swiftly over blue skies.
I sit here in this place.
I feel at home,
my church.


I held a place for you today
with shades of green and bursts of vibrant color,
miraculous in the midst of drought,
each pot carfeully tended by a loving gardener.
Zoom in on a blooming pot of magenta
a bumblebee, no two, makes his rounds.
Zoom in a little more
and ants make their way along green stem highways,
about their busy work.


I held a place for you today
Nestled here in the livable forest
I only need to zoom out, to shift my focus
and I can hear and see the community beyond:
cars dropping children to school,
school buses delivering precious cargo,
dogs barking to be let in,
an airplane roaring across the sky.
We, as a church, hold a relevant place in our community,
offering friendship, belonging, gratitude
and the face of Hope.

I held a place for you today
Marveling that this church is more than two buildings and a playground
with a cool new covered walkway.
This place which has grown with me,
represents my faith,
my journey,
my family,
and my faithful God
who always
holds a place

Monday, August 8, 2011

Carnival Queen

Ryan's brother Jelani works for Coca Cola - he's on the right

Cousin Adonte
Cousins ready for fun!

Traditional Short-Knee Band

Adorable Little Flowers

Scary Vecco

Chloe, Jada & Adonte Play Fancy Mas

Even a downpour can't stop their fun

Steel Pan Competition

The Band Goes to Grenville

Right in the thick of things!

Carnival Queen Chloe

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Day for the Boy

Traveling to Grenada is a pretty amazing trip. We are so fortunate to be able to visit a beautiful Caribbean island AND reconnect with family at the same time. We are also aware of the fact that our kids may not feel quite the same way. Our daughter is a little Caribbean mama - thankfully, she carries her dad's personality- a go-with-the-flow kinda gal. From the minute we arrived, she has been so happy to see her cousins that we have hardly seen her. She eats what they eat, bathes when they bathe and is perfectly content. Our son, on the other hand, is a little more high maintenance, taking on his mother's personality. We have to adjust to the heat, to the water, to the food. Plus, there aren't any cousins his age to hang with. So, as they say in Grenada, he is "just there."

I was reminded that this "family vacation" might not be so much fun for him last night, when I read on Facebook that he "didn't feel good and wanted to go home." Uh-oh. We had spent the first two days settling in and had overlooked Trent a bit in the process - we hadn't really planned anything fun for him so far. That would have to change. My first strategy was to get him off the iPod and get him to interact with us and the rest of the family.

I said, "Hon, you know, you can talk to people."

He said, "Mom, I don't even know these people. What am I supposed to say?"

Well, I could see his point there - a lot of the people I don't really know either. I do a lot of smiling and nodding. But he is only 12 years old. Bottom line is - these aren't his peeps.

Since Chloe was doing just fine, we needed a little quality time with Trent. I suggested we play a card game. He was agreeable so we sat out on the porch where we could get some fresh air and ocean breeze and I taught him how to play 500 Rummy. Great call. By bedtime, we had been joking and laughing Connection was restored.

It occurred to me that I have to show my not-so-laid-back-kid how to kick back and relax on vacations like this. What do we do when we have down time? How do we stay connected to the family without hiding behind technology? In other words, how do we unplug? This is something I have to model for this child who is so much like me it is spooky. What does he see my doing? Resting, doing suduko puzzles, and reading.

Our first order of the day tomorrow: beach time.

This timed out perfectly because Chloe ended up going into town with her aunt, uncle & cousins. That left time for us to spend with Trent. We had a lovely lunch together - Trent's choice (roti!)

Then we headed to Bathway, our favorite beach. From the minute the kid hit the blue-green water, a smile never left his lips.

He had more fun jumping the waves, diving into the surf, building sandcastles with Dad and burying Mom in the sand. Trent and I even battled our way through the rough surf, trying to climb to the top of the rocks, before we gave up after feeling like our lives were in danger.

But in the process, we made a memory! We cooled off with cold sodas and drove to Levera beach at the northern tip of the island and walked around.

We finally headed back home, full of sun and sand, arguing over who got to shower first.

It is a juggling act, this parenting job. And vacations are no exception. In fact, I would say that vacations intensify the juggling! Not only do we have to budget for the trip and make the plans. We also have to shop and pack and unpack and entertain. And then we have to check in: Is he doing okay? Is she? Are they drinking enough water? Are they pooping regularly? Are they homesick? If they are having a hard adjustment, we have to figure out ways to help make it easier.

We gain so much when we come to Grenada.
We get a true life experience vs. a tourist experience.
Ryan and I reconnect with family and friends.
Our children get to experience the culture where their dad grew up.
They get to meet the family members from the Grenada side of their family tree.
That is a gift.

And we have to balance this with the fact that it is a vacation for the children, too. They need to experience the fun of a vacation as well.

Today we are half-way through our trip. We each made a list of the fun things we still want to do. We are having a blast, planning our last week, slowly crossing the items off our list.

Before we know it, we will be home; our days in Grenada will feel like a dream.

Today we will enjoy each moment.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

There is nothing like a vacation - especially one that takes me over 2,000 miles away - to help me wind down and relax. There is also something magical about traveling back to the beautiful little island where I spent two years of my life as an eager and yet somewhat nervous Peace Corps volunteer. I was stunned to realize that it was exactly 20 years ago that I walked these streets, calling Grenada home.

20 years.

How could that be possible?

That means that the students I taught are now grown; some even have grandchildren!

It hasn't taken me long to slide into the relaxed island pace. For the record,  I'd like to note that Ryan was actually rushing me out the door yesterday, after I literally slept until noon and was feeling fully slug-i-fied. We had to get to the bank to change money before it closed at 2pm. With a smile Ryan said, "I promise this is the last time I will rush you for the entire trip!"

We spend our days "liming" -  driving and walking around, stopping to say hello to nearly everyone we pass. Trent has gained a new perspective of his dad's popularity. We have a running bet that there is nowhere we can go in this town or this island where Ryan doesn't meet someone he knows.

I guess that is what home is. 

The place where everybody knows your name.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when more than once I've heard, "Miss Nelsooooooooon." Students I taught in the two primary schools here still remember me after 20 years, even with shorter hair, more wrinkles and more of me to love.

I guess that is what home is. 
The place where everybody knows your name.

Thank you, God, for beautiful places to call home.

Our little cottage

Chloe and cousin Jada

Beautiful Khavani, the newest addition to the family

Ryan's best friend Robert and his son, Brent