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

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lucky Man

As I forced my tired eyes open this morning,
One of the few Saturdays that I could let my body wake up when it wanted to

I saw Ryan just staring at me
A smile on his lips

"I'm a damn lucky man," he whispered.

Sweet blessing.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can You Open It Now?

She jumped out of her grandparent's car and ran into my arms,
my youngest,
my precious girl,
whose cheeks I had not smooched in three days.
It was a full-body hug,
that said, "I really missed you."
My favorite kind.

After a few minutes she asked Nana,
"Can I get it now?"
She and my mom disappeared for a moment.

She called my name
and I turned toward her voice,
But all I could see was the huge beautifully wrapped box,
with two Chloe legs sticking out below.

She set the box down,
"Can you open it now? It's an early birthday present."

Now that is a surprise.
My birthday is more than a month away.
Her smile and excitement tugged on my heart.
In a minute, honey, let's say goodbye to Nana and Papa first, ok?

As Nana and Papa drive away,
We come inside the camper and have supper,
Hot dogs and chips filling our bellies.

"Can you open it now?"
Just a moment, sweetie,
I want to take a picture of your beautiful wrapping and coloring.

More waiting
while we scramble for the camera.

Finally, an eternity later,
"Ok, let's open it!"
She squeals and begins to help me.

A BIG box
with LOTS of packaging and
I reach the treasure.

A handmade birdhouse.

An original creation
made by Chloe and Papa.
Representing hours of togetherness:
and hammering
and nailing
and sanding
and painting
and waiting
and decorating
and wrapping.

 An unexpected gift
full of the pride of creating
and the joy of working together,
granddaughter and granddad.

Given freely to me,
With love.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Many hands make light work. ~John Heywood

A successful team is a group of many hands but of one mind.
~Bill Bethel

 Working Together to Work Wonders ~UTMB motto

The whole body,

joined and held together by every supporting ligament,

grows and builds itself up in love,

as each part does its work.  ~Ephesians 4:16

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. ~ Philippians 4:8

So let's work this through together ~Job 33:7


You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
~ Ephesians 4:4
How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.
 -- Annie Dillard


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Holy Weed Pulling

Ok, confession time:
Car washing and yard work are not my favorite things. So that means dear Ryan is on his own when it comes to a clean car or weeded flower beds.  Trent has taken on yard mowing as one of his chores this year and he does a fine job.

So Ryan and Trent take care of the mowing, edging and blowing and I do the laundry, clutter pick up, and shopping. We share the cleaning and cooking. Seems pretty equitable to me.

A few times this past year, Ryan has asked for some help with the yard and I pretended I didn't hear him. He asked a few weeks ago and I answered in my most whiny voice, "But it's HOT outside!"

Last week, Ryan had asked Trent to get the yard mowed. By early evening the yard still wasn't done. Ryan reminded Trent, who didn't really feel like doing it. He was tired, he said, and would rather do it in the morning. The problem was, he hadn't done it in the morning and he was being asked to do it now. Trent chose to complain and stomp upstairs for a nap. Without yelling or even raising his voice, Ryan went out back and pulled out the mower. I thought, "Uh-oh." I met Ryan outside and offered to do the mowing, but he politely declined.

At the sound of the mower running in the front yard, Trent came flying down the stairs. "Why is Dad mowing? I was going to do it, I was just getting on my shoes. Now he's gonna be MAD."

I summoned up my best Love & Logic response, empathy first. "That's a bummer. We had no way of knowing that. Now Dad is doing your job since you didn't want to. I'm sure there will be a consequence, but we'll have to discuss it. We'll let you know. Try not to worry."

I was ready to walk away from my pitiful, grumbling, complaining man-boy until I heard these words: "Mom, I messed up. How can I fix this?" to my ears.

I suggested he go outside and say these words to his dad and ask what else he could do to help. I could tell he was a little stuck, so I went outside with him and together we talked to his dad. Ryan said, "Well, I could use some help weeding the front flower beds."

Relieved, Trent ran around to the front and began helping. I was pondering the magic formula for raising helpful kids.  It isn't rocket science - we just model being helpful. When we catch them doing their chores, we say, "Would you like some help with that?" and we help. They watch us being helpful and learn to be helpful. This was the perfect opportunity to put that into practice. I called for Chloe to come to the front and help us.

We began to work together on the jungly,
overgrown flower beds.
As we beagan to make headway,
before I knew it,
we were smiling,
we were joking,
and we were laughing.
We were also dirty and beyond hot,
soaked clean through
from our efforts in 105 degree heat.

We gathered up the demon weeds, filling up two black garbage bags, while Chloe swept the sidewalk and street. After we picked up all our tools and deposited them in the garage, we all jumped in the pool with our clothes on. We splashed around together, cooling our bodies and feeling the pride of our family accomplishment.

I basked in the joy
of a family working together,
of helping ease the way for father and son to communicate,
of connection restored.

Holy time, even among weeds.