Monthly Archives: December 2012

fifty years worth celebrating

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I came home for Christmas this year. I’m spending a little over a week under my parent’s roof. So far we’ve done the normal Christmas stuff, opened gifts, ate food, sat around and visited but this year I walked into something I had no idea was coming.

My parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary is June 7th 2013. I had talked with my mom last summer telling her to make an invitation list of people that they would like to have invited to a party and that us kids would put it together for them. I had no idea over this break she would say…”Ok Ruth, Here are the picture albums of fifty plus years…go through and pick out the ones you think should be shown.”

I had no idea that I was going to walk down that kind of memory lane this week. I planned on rest, and gifts and food and conversation…I didn’t plan on the feelings I would feel looking at that much history. Not just history, but history that is at the very core of who I am.

I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve remembered. I’ve felt pride. I’ve felt loss. I’ve marveled at each new baby that came on the scene. I’ve looked through what feels like a million Christmas pictures and graduations and weddings and vacations. Those are the things we tend to take pictures of.

Honestly, I would guess that my parents don’t have an overabundance of pictures. They were from the generation that still used film and each picture cost something to make. So pictures were taken only in moments that were deemed ‘special’. Now a days we all take pictures everyday. Technology has changed us.

I’ve decided that fifty years of marriage is definitely something worth celebrating. The fact that two very different people from completely different upbringings can come together and forge a home and a life, a life that was not and is not easy is worthy of great respect and honor.

No wonder in the bible in Proverbs it talks about how blessed is the woman who  her children rise up and call her blessed.

My mom is never on a computer and she won’t read this post. But I want to be the first of many children who will publicly rise up and call her blessed.

My parents story is astounding to me.

And honestly…there is very, very little I would change if I could go back. I’d love to wipe out a few heartbreaking moments. But otherwise…I’d keep it all the same.

My upbringing has given me the foundation and tools I have needed my entire life to live a life that is worth living.

Looking through pictures has reminded me of how little my parents have had to work with and yet how they have always made do and made the best of things.

Looking through pictures has reminded me of what really matters in life. Precious babies and people, friends and family. My parents were still just kids themselves when they started having children and they came in fast succession. Jim, Mary Anne, Becky , Me and Phil all within a few short years and then the gift of later having Sue arrive on the scene.

I look at all of our kids and how our family has grown and it just astounds me.

As my parents get older it’s hard to see some changes that are happening and are sure to happen soon. My dad as most men has always identified himself strongly with his work. He was the kind of guy who did college in three years instead of four and seminary in 2 instead of 3 just because he was so passionate about getting out there and spreading the gospel. That fervor has remained with him his entire life. I think that’s why retirement is so hard in coming. My parents are workers. That’s putting it mildly. As I type they are both out in the campground in the snow and cold taking down more christmas lights than you can imagine.

I pray that more and more they will be able to transfer that purpose and passion and looking back and hoping that they’ve lived a good honorable life from work to family. I’ve looked at the pictures. I know these people, my brothers and sisters and grand children and great grandchildren. I work in public school. I can tell you with complete honesty and little to no bias:)…my parents should feel like they’ve lived a stellar life and have much to celebrate just look at the generations of children and adults coming up behind them. No foundation is perfect. Every foundation has a few cracks and flaws…but my kids couldn’t have a much solider base to build their lives upon. I’m grateful beyond words.

Some of the more touching pictures to me were the ones where my parents were playing with grand kids.

The most heartbreaking are the pictures of Christmas with Duane and Mark in the same pictures…so heart breaking to not have those two men in our family anymore and yet…so grateful that we had the time we had.

We tend to think of being rich in terms of material stuff and experiences. If you base your definition of rich on that my parents have been very poor their entire lives. But…if you base your definition of rich on love and people who would do anything for you and family and relationships and sacrifice…well my parents have got to be two of the richest people I know.

I can remember as a child being proud to be called “Doyle Dennings’ daughter”. It was an honor to be identified with him. I can tell you as a 42 year old daughter looking back over history I am still just as proud if not more so to be part of my family.

I can tell you already, if you know my parents are able to come to their 5oth celebration you won’t be disappointed. I’m going to even con my sisters and brothers and our kids into doing a little singing:).

Grateful…humbled…proud…blessed, so reminded of the Faithfulness of God. That’s what I’m feeling as I peel pictures out of photo books to put into the program. Fifty years is worth celebrating!

My Christmas Gift

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This year I gave my kids $60, dropped them off at the local mall and gave them 2 hours to choose something for me for Christmas. They’re old enough to be able to do that kind of thing. And thankfully our local mall is not a hot bed of activity.

I was curious what they would end up getting. I gave them no ideas. They know I need nothing and I trusted they would know me well enough to choose well.

$60 these days doesn’t go extremely far but they still brought home some cash.

Today we opened our gifts. This is what they chose. They chose a lotion/spray/gel small set from Bath and Body. I know they took great care in picking out each scent. I can just picture what the experience must have been like. They also got me a cute three owl hanging decoration thing. We have this thing about decorations that come in threes because it’s who we are as a family and seems symbolic. The girls said when they saw it they immediately thought of the words that describe us “We’re a hoot!” The decoration in itself is fine and nice but when they told me the expression that they immediately thought of when they saw it, it became immediately special to me. And then for my ‘big’ gift they purchased a picture frame for me with words on it. They know me well…clearly.

This is the verse on it…

“For the Lord is GOOD and His LOVE endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5

In the middle of the frame it says “Our family through the years” and it has four picture openings. They had already thought of what pictures they were hoping to have in it. A couple with all four of us…their dad included and then a couple of us three girls since he passed away.

In some ways it was a very simple gift and in other ways it was profound to me.

Profound because I can’t tell you how grateful that I am that they get that our family pictures belong in a frame that talks about the goodness of God, His love, and His faithfulness and how this continues through all generations forever. If there’s anything I want my kids to know about God beyond the shadow of a doubt I want them to know they can trust God with their entire lives, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful…everything. I’m looking forward to putting the pictures in the frame and displaying it somewhere special in our home.

My girls could easily have a chip on their shoulder about how God handled the whole dad thing.

They could easily be angry, disillusioned, etc. If anybody would have a valid reason they surely would. The amazing, beautiful thing to me is that on most days they aren’t. On most days they get that this world is not our home. On most days they get that heaven is our home and is going to be a great place to go to someday. On most days they are at peace with our current life. I’m grateful.

I’ve messed up a lot of things as a parent over the years. I’ve lost my temper, been impatient, haven’t stopped and listened, been selfish and more focused on jobs and tasks then relationships, etc. but I am in awe that when they thought of me and wanted to get me a good gift they picked  a frame that would show our family and declare the faithfulness and goodness of God. They knew this would be meaningful to me. When I opened it up and saw it I couldn’t help but think…maybe through all of the stuff and areas where I’ve made mistakes, the main thing has still been able to remain the main thing.

If my children have the love of God, the goodness of God, the faithfulness of God in their lives forever…then I know no matter what happens they will be ok.

So this Christmas, I’ll smell nice…know that “we’re a hoot” as a family and that we’re anchored on The Rock and still a family no matter whether that means four of us or three.

God is good.

Holiday break on the horizon

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Soon I’ll be off the ride for a whole two weeks. I know it will fly by and January 7th will come far too fast, but still…I’m excited about that many days in a row of freedom.

This week before I’m already thinking about what matters to me over this break. It’s far too easy to fritter the time away and get done with break only to be disappointed with how the time was spent.

So…I’m thinking a list might help me out. Don’t laugh. This is how I tend to deal with life. I make lists, all over the place in triplicate pretty much. It’s how I stay on top of my life, or at least give myself the illusion that I’m on top of it:).

These are in no special order beyond the order in which they hit my brain.

1. Sleep. I don’t consider myself extremely sleep deprived but my regular wake up call at 4:45am is a bit much. I’m hoping to catch up on some zzz’s over the break. Maybe even store away a few hours for the coming semester when I will go from 3 before school choir rehearsals a week to 4. Yes that’s what I have to look forward to.

2. Good food. I’m sure that I’ll eat some really good food, honestly, I’ll be able to eat a lot of food that isn’t cooked by me and somehow the fact that it’s not cooked by me makes it better even before I eat it:). I’ll be staying at my mom’s house and visiting for a few days at my mom in laws house. Both ladies are good cooks. No doubt the food will be good. I’m already preparing myself with the chant, a moment on the lips makes a lifetime on the hips.

3. Maybe a bit of reconciliation. I’m not orchestrating anything. I’m not even sure who I’m thinking of when this thought comes to my mind but part of me wonders if there might be some opportunity at some point for some healing conversations to happen. I’m open to the possibilities…at the same time my girls are cringing I’m sure when they read this one.

4. Snow. Come on Michigan, you’ve got to have some snow for the holidays. We’ve been patiently waiting for our first snow to get ourselves in the Christmas mood and it has yet to happen. Winter just isn’t like it was when I was a kid. Oh the snow drifts we used to have to play in. I don’t want to drive in it. But it sure is beautiful watching it come down. It can go away after Christmas…but sure would love to see some of the white stuff to set the mood.

5. Games. I don’t play many games these days. The girls aren’t real big on us three playing games. It’s never as much fun with just three people. But when you get together with family you get a chance to play games in large groups guaranteeing much laughter and frivolity:). Lauren is even planning a “minute to win it” competition for the Dennings family get together. Should be great fun and full of lovely moments.

6. Hanging with my sister Becky and my brother inlaw Marty and Courtney. We’re all crashing at mom’s house for a few days together. I shared a room with Becky growing up but we rarely see each other these days. It will be great fun having p.j. parties and hanging out together whenever we’re all there. Marty is one of the wittiest guys I know. I miss that. Oh how Mark and he could play off of one another. We’ll always have Boston, Becky:).

7. Heart to heart conversations. My family is not good about staying in touch over distance. Facebook helps but none of us are phone talkers as far as I know. But when we get together, and have some time to get reacquainted and up to speed we have the ability to talk about a whole slew of interesting topics. I like to pick my brother Jim’s brain. He is intelligent and well thought out. I am more emotional and impulsive, makes for an interesting conversation everytime. Well at least for me:).

8. Down time, with no to do list hanging over my head. That’s like handing me a million dollars right there. Whether that’s time to do a puzzle or watch a movie or go somewhere, I’m looking forward to it. We’re already planning to go see Les Mis the week of Christmas and that will be great fun. So nice to have a group to go with:)

9. Chicago time. My girls and I are going to spend a couple of nights in Chicago on the way back home. It will be beautifully decorated still and we love to walk around downtown. We enjoy shopping, and just enjoy the thrill of  being in the city. I realize it’s not for everybody, but I think I’ve won over my girls to the joys of being in the city.

10. Reading a good book or two. We’re riding the Amtrak home this year. Which means I just cut 20 hours of drive time from my life. I can instead sit back, sleep, read, relax, whatever and let the train do the work. I’ve got a stack of books by my bed right now. I’m sure I’ll have a few of those read by the end of the break.

Honestly, I guess I have no huge ambitions over this break. No big projects. No great assignments or accomplishments to cover. I just want to reconnect with people I love and who love me. And I want to take in the season by taking care of myself as well. Rest, Refueling mind, heart, body, and soul. Who knows…maybe I’ll even work up to some New Year’s resolutions by the end of it all:).

And welcome 2013. I’m only 5 months from my sabbatical. That’s one hand people. I’m on the down hill.

Have a wonderful holiday break wherever you are, however long you have off of your ride to enjoy it. Maybe give it a bit of thought…what would make the holiday most meaningful to you?