Posted by: mmstanger | December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas (and Blogging Break)

My children know that this:
 is because of this:
The also know that we are now in the midst of the season where we celebrate  Jesus’ birth.
Reaching our own children through their natural connection with the Baby Jesus is such  a beautiful thing.
Remembering that more is often caught than taught is important, too.
Thus, we will continue taking our extended blogging break here at Wonder  and Will, and will also be taking a break at Training Happy Hearts, where we have been posting regularly throughout 2011,  in order to focus more fully on faith and family.  Before this break continues, however, we would to take a moment to wish everyone a most blessed Christmas season and promising New Year.
May you see Jesus in every young child in your life (including the one inside of you!). And, may you let the Lord help you be His hands, mouth and heart to fellow children of God that you encounter.
We hope to start posting here again at least a couple times a month after the Christmas season winds down.  We also regularly pot at Training Happy Hearts, so check there if you want to stay in touch.
Posted by: mmstanger | December 29, 2010

Where Have We Been?

Merry CHRISTmas season and Happy New Year!  If you’ve been wondering where we have been let me briefly explain:

  • enjoying the holidays
  • dealing with a hard drive failure and other computer issues that made blogging a challenge for many weeks
  • realizing that our days are very full and time to post here is short

Both Mike and I are trying to simplify our lives and personal pursuits and, so, this blog has been on hiatus and likely will not be posted on too regularly for a while yet as we prioritize the kids, the house, work, etc.  In the meantime, you can keep up with our homeschooling adventures – which, of course, crossover into general life adventures as well – at Training Happy Hearts, where I am still trying to post regularly.

Pray all have blessed holidays!

Posted by: mmstanger | November 24, 2010

Reflection and Rapture

I was sitting on my bed last night, looking at the computer screen as I followed-up on some commitments and researched some different opportunities when Jack got a bit noisy.  I reached down to pat him.  He quieted.  I proceeded with what I was doing.  Then, he squealed again.  I looked at him.  Immediately, he gave me a bright-eyed, open mouthed, arms and legs wiggling giggle.

Jack was happy simply to have me looking at him.

A deep breath and two thoughts later, I found myself holding him with a tear slipping from the corner of my eye.


The deep, cleansing breath I took cleared my mind of thoughts of work and research for future opportunities.  It brought me back to the present moment and the precious scent of my youngest child in my arms.  A visceral delight.  Something I felt overwhelming gratitude for.

Babies.  Breathe them in.  It’s so good for the spirit!

Then, the a thought flashed into my mind:  There I had been online concentrating on how I might provide a better life for my kids when one of my children was right next to me, fussing, but, then, squealing and smiling as soon as I looked at him.  Hey, Mommy, be present!  Look at me right now.  Life need not be better.  It is perfect in its imperfection right here, right now, with me. Truly, God has graced me with beautiful children, and He has honored me by placing trust in Mike and me to be good stewards in raising them.  Why do I let myself get distracted from the very present portions of this mission with thoughts of future things?  I do not know.  But, I am sure glad Jack brought me back from the “worry about the future” abyss.

The present truly is a precious gift from God.  He reminds us not to worry about the future, but to live and love right here and right now.  A practice that brings delight!

Indeed, Jack’s gurgles and glee brought me delight last night.  They also acted as a catalyst for my second thought – a reflection that brought tears and peace all at once.

You see, when Jack was able to catch my attention his reaction was immediate and absolute.  Every part of him responded with joy.  As I witnessed his fussiness immediately transform into an excited, open-mouth smile, arms-a-waving, legs-a-kicking, I could not help but to feel overwhelming delight myself.  One simple look from parent to child translated into an ageless moment of smiling satisfaction.

Amazing that just by looking at my sweet baby I could bring him such pleasure!  Just as remarkable that when his joy burst forth, mine emerged, too.  Still more miraculous, if a imple shared look could bring such powerful delight to my son and I, how much greater is the joy that my Father and I can share?

He is never so wrapped up in what He is doing that he neglects to look down at me until I fuss.  In fact, He is always there just waiting for me to look back at Him.  So, all I, His child, need do in order to embrace true joy is to direct my focus towards Him.

Where my attention focuses, there my joy can also be.

Thank you, Jack, for helping Mommy to remember this simple truth and, thank you, Father, for always being there to share rapture.

Posted by: mmstanger | November 12, 2010

Thousand Things Thursday and Order in the Home Update

Yesterday got ahead of me with appointments, errands, productivity and family time, so I was not able to post the most recent update on Thousand Things Thursdays and Order in the Home.  So, here it is, a day late.

When we last left off with Thousand Things, I was at 319.  Since then, when I have managed to remember to note items as I purge, I have been able to knock off another — things.  Whoo hoo:

319-7 grocery bags of clothes and 1 big bag of clothes and shoes=311

How good it feels to drop donations in the charity box on the way to our Tuesday library story times.  Praise God for making helping others while decluttering our home and getting to social learning times for the kids so easy and convenient.

311- 1 reflective running belt=310

What’s better than when hubby jumps on board with the purging and picks out a few items himself.  May the freecycler who’s training for a marathon get more use out of the belt than we’ve been getting and may ll her runs be safe and enjoyable!

310-9 magazines=301

Thank you, God, for helping us see that it is silly to hold onto so many back issues.  May those who now have the magazines in their hands enjoy them and pass them on.

301-2 vhs cassettes=299

It’s always a blessing when you’ve got something in the car for a donation and someone you know who happens to see it says they’d enjoy it.  So good to be able to bring a smile to a friend.

299-7 bags of paper=292

Where does all this paper trash come from?  I am not sure, but I sure am glad to help out our town through donating it to the Paper Retriever bins at the school after storyhour each week rather than just trashing it!  May God guide the budget makers so the funding earned goes to good places.

292-2 stuffed trashbags of military stuff and 1 pair of military boots=289

Praise God that Mike finished up his National Guard commitment without being deployed.  So good to know he will safely be home with us on weekends and during the summer now.  And, so glad to be able to pass on the extra gear he had that didn’t need returning to Special Kindness in Packages, Inc., an awesome local charity that helps soldiers.

289-80+ random plastic recyclables=209

In an effort to go more “green”, we are bringing less and less plastic into our home, yet there is still sooo much of it here.  Praise be for the little pocket of time I had to run around collecting as much unneeded recyclable plastic from our home.  Two bins worth that no freecyler wanted to reuse or repurpose.  So, thanks goes to town services that picked them up for recycling.

209- 2 bases and 1 car seat=206

Love, love, love when I can pass on passed-on goods that we are not in need of anymore to keep a friend’s wee ones safe.  Thank you, God, for the cycle of re-use for safety!

206- 1 bag of maternity clothes=205

Thank you for the abundane of maternity clothes that were passed onto me that I can pass onto some other mom-again-to-be.  May respect and celebration of life continue — and may budgets stay low for all with passed along clothes!

205-3 bags baby clothes=202

I love when I am able to give back to those who gave to me.  Thank you for the blessing of having extra hand-me-downs to divide with a friend and her sister-in-law for their kids.

202-1 netted baby seat=201

Thank you, God, for the protection from EEE-carrying mosquitoes this seat provided Jack this past season.  May my friend’s sister-in-law’s new blessing, who is expected in a few months, remain safe and smiling inside it, too.

201-1 back pack, 1 diaper bag, 1 vcr video, 1 bag of clothes and 1 GRE study book=196

Praise God for one stop pass-along charity bins.  They make purging sundry small items so handy, allowing other families to benefit from our excess while allowing the kids to stay warm and snug in the car while Mommy drops the donations.

And, there you have it:  Less than 200 things to go until I reach my goal of 1000 things purged with prayer.  And, let me tell you.  I thought that goal was a lofty one, but looking around, I have a feeling I could do a second, maybe even a third round on my quest to an more orderly and simplified home.  Care to join me?  I plan to knock out the final portion of this 1000 things by the end of the month and to start the next round on the first Thursday of  December.  I invite folks to join in.  Maybe we can even start a link up to inspire each other…

Order in the HomeAnd, on another note. many of the things noted in this update came from the piles and boxes of clutter in Mike and my bedroom.  Hence, I am happy to report that they provide evidence that I have been focusing on reclaiming that space, once and for all.  Five minutes here, fifteen there, with some longer marathons on the weekend when Mike enthusiastically enjoys time with the kiddoes while I focus on the de-clutter, we are making progress.  The focus I promised myself as I turned “simply 40” is paying off!  We are honoring our offering of bringing Order in the Home.

Finally, let me say that I truly feel the sense of peace and accomplishment I am receiving from these efforts are a fine, fine thing — as are the organizations and systems (like paper Retriever, Freecycle and SKIP Cares) that allows me to do it with such ease and purpose.  Thus, I am choosing to share this post at Finer Things Friday.  Check out the links there to see what fine things others have been enjoying.  And, be sure to leave a comment here if you’d like to join me in my next round of 1000 things.  I would love to have company in the next edition:  1000 Things Thursday, Purging with Prayer!

Posted by: mmstanger | October 30, 2010

Simply 40

Hiya, folks!  Long time, no post, I know.  I have been so busy multi-tasking and trying to juggle other things of late that I totally dropped the ball on Wonder and Will.  No excuses.  Just recognition:  I need to simplify!  I have so many need to’s, should do’s and want to’s in life that I am not attending well to any of them.

So, what am I going to do about it?

Simplify!  Yep!  As I face the big 4-0 today, I recognize my folly of the past year.  I have great goals but am so busy spinning, I rarely take steps towards actually reaching any of them.

Just what are those goals?

  • To  live a God-centered life; to have a vibrant, effective relationship with God, learning more about the precepts of my faith and living them daily
  • to be balanced, happy and healthy; to embrace life with all it offers (even the “bad”)
  • to grow in a strong, trusting, happy relationship; to let Mike know I love him and am happy I married him; to love, support, serve and communicate
  • to love and guide our children, shaping them into God-centered, independent, happy people
  • to provide a comfortable, clean and welcoming home; healthy, economic and tasty meals; and sound financial planning; to maintain healthy, supportive environment

Not too complicated, right?  So, there seems no reason that I should get off course in moving towards them.  Yet I do.  Why?

As I reflect on where I set out to go when I synthesized these goals a while back as opposed to where I am today, I realize that not only do I sometimes neglect to keep my goals in mind, but also, I often fail to choose a single path at a time to step in.  Instead, I spin.

I take steps in one direction, making some minor headway.  Then, before I have turned a true corner, I take steps in another direction.  Then another.  And another… Thus, I end up moving along lots of side paths, rarely making any significant progress.  And, while the little action steps I take may seem positive, by taking so many concurrently, I negate any true success in goal-achievement.  Yep, just like this post is doing, I end up simply going in circles…

No more.  Today, I resolve to embrace the very simple truth I have ignored too long:  taking steps in ONE direction gets you a lot further a lot faster than taking them in many.

So, before I get too dizzy, it is time to stop moving in circles.  It’s time to set a single course for each goal and then to choose just one of those to travel at a time.

Order in the HomeFirst up, the goal: to provide a comfortable, clean and welcoming home; healthy, economic and tasty meals; and sound financial planning; to maintain healthy, supportive environment.  The course I will take: continuing Order in the Home through decluttering, starting anew with Mike and my bedroom.

Ready, set, here I go…

Posted by: mmstanger | September 29, 2010

Will It Be a Sixth Year of Sunshine?

Six years ago tomorrow, Mike and I were betrothed on a Thursday after school.  (I was still teaching full time.) It was a gorgeous night for a civil ceremony on the beach and one that began the last handful of hectic, but blessed years.

Five years ago, we forgot our camera…

Four years ago, we had one pudgy little blessing along with us.

Three years ago, a second little blessing joined us.

Two tears ago, we thought we had our hands full.

Last year, God was smiling, knowing He had plans to make them fuller…

And this year — our newest blessing will be with us as we walk the beach, no matter what the day presents.

I am so grateful for all the ebbs and flows of the past five years and for the blessing of family that has been granted us!  For “Love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Cor 13:4), just as was read at our ceremony.

And, I am thankful for our home (which is full of love, even if the house itself needs a lot).  Creating “home” is what we longed for as we entered into our Betrothal.  Indeed, that is why we selected another reading:

Now you will feel no rain
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now each of you will feel no cold
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness for you
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your togetherness
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Praise for answered prayers!  (And happy anniversary to my Sweet who I am so blessed to share “one life” with.)

This post is being shared at Grace Alone’s Thankful Thursday, where the following verse was shared.  It is one I find very apropos as we celebrate the anniversary of our Bethrothal and look ahead to many more years of joy and challenges:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
~ Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV ~ emphasis Grace Alone’s)

Join in to share what you are thankful for today.

As I mentioned in this post, we were blessed with a wonderful celebration of my grandmother’s life this past weekend.  Letting go of the woman whose hand I had held less than a week prior was sad, but knowing I never have to let go of her memory — and will always have her smiling down from her place in Heaven — replaces tears with smiles.

I was honored to share some of my own memories of Grammy in her eulogy at the funeral Mass:

The second to last time I saw Mary Lombardo, my grammy, she looked at me with a glow and said, “He smiles at me.”  The way she said it made me wonder if she was talking about Jack, my youngest, who was lying next to her, or if she had been seeing God smiling down at her.  I think it was both.  And, I know for certain God smiles down on each of us here today.  Why?  Because we all share the gift of knowing Mary Lombardo as we did.

Mary, like countless women of her generation, didn’t complete high school.  Yet, she possessed more knowledge and skills than many college graduates seem to today.  Life experience, trust in God, love for family and an appetite for the daily newspaper acted as her advanced curriculum and shaped her into a woman whose education far surpassed anything teachers and texts could offer.  Grammy embodied a whole-hearted education – one that inspires me and makes me grateful to continue living the legacy of love, learning and life appreciation that she has left behind.

From my earliest years, I remember Grammy “knowing stuff”, practical stuff that amazes a child:  how to knit beautiful and warm winter mittens; how to turn Grampy’s strawberries and other produce into delicious homemade jams and jellies; how to reduce, reuse and recycle (even before it was trendy to do so) in order to make any manner of necessities and playthings.  Indeed, though some may say Grammy lived in “want” for many years, I don’t see it that way.  Money may have been tight.  Things may have been few.  But, ingenuity, trust and hard work multiplied whatever was there in order to fulfill needs… and wants, too.  I know I always wanted to dive into Grammy’s homemade Christmas presents each year!  And, I continue to be amazed at how Grammy managed to pull off huge family gatherings in a tiny home, ensuring we were all well fed and relaxed.  She certainly had her home arts and handiwork mastered!

She also had an uncanny ability to adjust to the challenges and celebrations of life.  Through many hard knocks – including the death of a child, the loss of a husband and a successful battle against cancer – Grammy remained steadfast in her faith.  Through celebrations, like the weddings of grandchildren and the births of great-grandchildren, she modeled true joy and love.   When she encountered someone, she didn’t just see goodness, but brought it out.  She was known to say things such as, “We have such a big family … so full of love.  Even with all the people in our family, no one has real problems.”  Now, I know some of us here might beg to differ.  We probably could name a problem or ten.  But, with Grammy’s vision we can also see that in the long run, all problems are simply stumbling blocks and lessons.  Grammy acknowledged this and she knew, especially later in life, that the quickest way to navigate challenges and to learn from them is to pray.

Certainly, Grammy prayed often.  More than once over the years, when I walked in to visit Grammy, I found her eyes closed, lips moving, rosary in hand.  And often times as I went to say goodbye, Grammy shared thanks for our family.

So much is learned, shared and habitualized through family relationships.  And, with Grammy at the helm, all such things were underscored with wisdom and love.  Indeed, Grammy beamed when she talked about the “population explosion” she and Grampy began and how it is so “full of love”.  She’s right.  And she was the catalyst.  Grammy had a beautiful way of sharing simple words at just the right moments.  No big speeches.  No judgment.  Just understanding, a snippet of time-tested wisdom… and love.  That’s what ties our bonds so strongly.

Strong, like Grammy herself.   As I’ve said, she was strong about life, faith, family – and right to the end, she had strong mind, too.  For years, that woman would sit during quiet moments with glasses perched at the end of her nose, pouring over the daily newspaper.  And, when we’d visit, she’d often have clippings of interest, chosen and underlined specifically to share with us, stuffed into old cereal boxes.  And, Grammy had an astounding vocabulary.  Anyone who played Upwords with her knew that!  You had to break out a dictionary just to make sure she wasn’t making up words.  Yet, she was never boastful, even for all her brilliance.

“Little Grammy”, as many of us called Mary Lombardo, was small in stature but huge in impact.  She lived as a respected steward of time, talent and treasures.  Even in her final years, when age and illness reframed her sense of time and erased many of her former talents, Grammy adapted by embracing all her body and mind allowed her to do – to pray and to share smiles and stories with whoever visited her.

During this time, when asked, “How are you?”, she took to replying, “As usual.  No better.  No worse.”  But this wasn’t said as a complaint.  Rather, it was a fact, which she shared with a smile of acceptance.  Grammy once said, “Life is a gift and I am going to accept it as long as God offers it.”  She did that.  With grace.  With gratitude.  With a manner I have seen few do.   Grammy lived in practical way, day to day.

Today, as we remember Grammy, I can’t help but to be sad that she will no longer be around to be my mentor in living a simple, faithful, yet rich life.  But, I am so confident that that she now looks down from her company with the angels and saints, cheering each of us on and encouraging us to live her legacy well, that I am more happy than sad.  I’m grateful for each special moment shared with Grammy throughout the years.  I am equally thankful that my children, though gifted with far less time with their GG, were literally touched by her love.

Love directed and defined Mary Lombardo.  A woman trained up with a happy heart.  A woman who lived long and well before she passed on with peace, having accepted her learning here and prepared herself for the hereafter.  Great-great grandmother.  GG.  Little Grammy.  Mum. Child of God.  With love and pride, may her legacy live on…

Posted by: mmstanger | September 22, 2010

Life Is a Celebration

When I was younger, I used to love the TV show Fame.  One of the songs from it still pops into my head quite often.  Most recently, the chorus of it rang loud and clear as  we remembered  my grandmother, Mary Lombardo, throughout the beautiful services that were held for her this past weekend:  Life is a celebration!

Indeed, Grammy’s life is something to be celebrated.  As is the “population explosion” she and Grampy began.  How grateful I am to be part of a family tree that is so big and sturdy and so very “full of love”. And, how wonderful was

That beauty of our family tree God for family and friends who gathered to honor her.  It was so good to see folks.  And, my goodness, how cathartic was the song that the funeral service director was inspired to play after seeing the beautiful family tree craft my cousins Kelly and Sam made to honor Grammy and her family. (get your tissues out to be prepared for a cathartic, smiling though crying kind of moment if you are blessed with a family like mine before listening below!)

Truly, I am thankful and proud to be a branch on the Mary and John Lombardo tree and feel blessed to have all my aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, nieces, nephews and children branching out along with me, ensuring that tree will always grow.

PS For those who want to laugh at some great 80’s fashion, be wowed by another little lady (Debbie Allen) and how she can dance and enjoy a reminder, check this out:

This post is being shared at Grace Alone’s Thankful Thursday.  Please check out the links there to be inspired by others’ grateful hearts!  And if you want to read Grammy’s eulogy, you can here.  She was a special woman!

Posted by: mmstanger | September 16, 2010

Thousand Things Thursdays Are Back Again

A lesson from GG: Consider "generations of love" important, not "stuff".

It is Thursday night and time for bed.  Before I slumber, I am again thinking of my wonderful Grammy, who passed on this week and who I paid tribute to here.

As I looked around at all the “stuff” in my nome today, while thinking about the “real things” that matter — like relationships and faith — I could not help but to ponder how Grammy left this world with almost nothing — by choice, after years and years of saving everything.  (The depression era mandated that.)  How she seemed to have taken the “leave everything and follow me” scriptures to heart in the last years of her life — well, never leaving our family, but dismissing both desire and need for material things in lieu of concentrating on prayer and relationships.  I am not sure I am there yet, but I certainly feeling the urge to purge more strongly again and thrilled to report I had a bit of time to follow up on that today.

Yep!   as I get ready for bed, I am happy to have had, not only some time just now to attack a closet while all three of my children are miraculously sleeping at the same time during a moment I am fully awake, but also to have had 30 whole consecutive minutes during the day today to do some tidying, cleaning and purging despite the fact that my older two don’t nap that I just had to pick up with my loooong overdue Thousand Things Thursdays countdown.

Now, I can say with all honesty that my effort to purge has continued (however slowly) even if my commitment to keeping track of it through regular Thousand Things Thursday posts has not.  Quite frankly, my feeling has been, “Who has time to type lists when sneaking five minutes here and fifteen there to declutter while taking care of three very busy children under five?”  Certainly not me.  I am facing enough of a challenge juggling all life’s balls right now without tossing a pen or a keyboard into the mix for record keeping.  Still, I have noted some things in the 17 weeks (Yikes!  That long…) that have passed since I last posted a Thousand Things Thursday update.  (And, here, I mean some things besides the fact that I am very inconsistent and have failed to keep promises to myself or those reading this blog that I will post every Thursday about this.) So, here goes – the continued countdown, minus the many things I have forgotten to list, which are likely “canceled out” anyhow by the plethora of things we have taken into our home in the way of hand me downs, baby goods, etc.:

499 – 1=498 May the little two year old of the mama who came for the child potty today train with ease!

498-4=495 May the three different folks who picked up some of Mike’s old textbooks this past week benefit from them.

495-8=387 Thank you for stealing me against the temptation of purchasing anything beyond our means from the education and parenting catalogues I just passed on.  Great someday stuff, but all wants, not needs.  And, right now, a greater need is to purge things, not add to them!

387-12=375 May the grandmother who picked up the bag of girlie bibs today delight in the fun, albeit messy moments, of her droollie little angel.

375-9 (at least)=366 I am amazed, Lord, with the amount of paper that enters this house.  Thank you for giving me some time to get through the piles that accumulate here and there and for all the Paper Retriever bins around that I can conveniently recycle it in.

375-46=329 Thank you, Lord, for the abundance of clothing that has been passed onto us for the kids, which we can, in turn, pass on for other kids’ use.  I just weeded 40 more articles our yesterday and know that we have given at least four bags full to charity and another two to friends and family.

329-5=324 Thank you for letting the need for baby blankets of another mom of a newborn be made known to me, so I could share some of the stack we had.

324-1=321 Thank you for helping us find a good home for the cute bassinet that was passed onto us to be passed on again.  We simply had no need for it since we so love our family cradle inside and now have a new-to-us netted baby seat we can use outdoors — which is much better than the bassinet for keeping the nasty EEE mosquitoes away!

321-2=319 Thank you for friends who passed along their newer model car seat and swing to us, allowing us to trash instead of clean the car seat we had that the mice may have traipsed over in the garage (yuck) and to offer our well-used swing to someone who wanted it and was willing to do the small repairs it needed.

Order in the HomeAnd, so it is, I find myself happily below the 1/3 left to go mark on my Thousand Things Quest.  Hoorah!  I know it is but a dent in the clutter amassed in our house and the Order in the Home I seek is yet to become a reality, but baby steps, baby steps…  With the grace of God, and a few more pockets of time like today offered me, it will all come to fruition.  And, as life continues to unfold, maybe I will gain the wherewithal to follow Grammy’s lead even further.  Either way, I am just so excited to be 2/3’s done with my quest to purge things I should not be storing — one thing at a time — using each thing I purge as a moment of prayer, until I have reached at least 1000 things.

Yesiree, I am so thankful for this opportunity to become a better steward and more prayerful person.  Thus, I am sharing this post at Grace Alone’s Thankful Thursday.  Be sure to stop by there to check out the links.  Also, do leave a comment here with encouragement or inspiration – perhaps, about your own Thousand (or more or less) Things progress.

Posted by: mmstanger | September 14, 2010

He Smiles at Me

The first time Jack met GG, he was a bit cranky. Since then (when this photo was taken), he smiles each time they connect.

Today I am grateful for the blessing of “generations of love”, granted to us as a gift, I believe, from God to offer strength, support and, of course, smiles.  Indeed, my grandmother, who just turned 95, has been known to say that she and my grandfather started a “population explosion”.  They had five children, who had children, who had children…  (Yes, we are blessed with times where five generations of family have been together!)  And the result?  Lots and lots of love and smiles…

For me, this really hit home last Thursday when the kids and I visited GG just one day after she had come down with pneumonia.  Expecting just a brief visit to offer a kiss and a smile, we were surprised to experience a lengthy one full of many received (and given) kisses, brief spoken conversation and warm unspoken exchanges.

When we first arrived for the visit, I could hardly envision smiles we would share.  To be honest, I thought we might walk away crying, because as the kids and I entered the door, GG (as the kids call Grammy) was as still as could be, eyes closed, mouth open, holding her rosary.  As the kids tumbled into the room, I paused, wondering if a quick touch later I would need to tell the kids GG was “sleeping”.  (GG is in a nursing home with a no-machines, no hospital etc order by choice).  Luckily, this was not necessary.

When I touched GG, she was warm, woke and offered a week smile.  She could not talk well, but managed to welcome us nonetheless.  Then, as Luke and Nina alternated between offering and receiving kisses, hugs and “I lvoe you’s”, playing with GG’s stuffed toys, walker, snow globe and lobster toy and asking only-young-chidlren-can ask questions, such as “Why does she only have two teeth?” and “Why is her skin (on her hands) bumpy”, GG and I managed to exchange a few verbal sentences.  But, mostly, there were just looks – connections of love…  And, a few pauses for prayer.  (Nina joined us in a Hail Mary) and song (the kids held her hands and sang “Ring Around the Rosy”)

GG simply lit up gazing at the kids or making eye contact with me.  And, she seemed to have a special connection with Jack, who I laid her next to her.  It was heart-warming to witness how GG continued to shakily reach for Jack’s hand, to cover it in kisses, or to pull his face close to hers (with my help), to do the same.  Each time she did, no matter how fussy Jack was getting (which GG was somewhat unaware of due to to hearing loss), Jack would smile — one of those wide, open-mouth smiles that two-month old children melt hearts with.

Oh, it was such a beautiful dance to watch.  GG reaching for Jack.  Jack smiling in delight.  GG lighting up in return.  And, then, GG had enough strength to share some words: “He smiles at me.”  Something in the way she said it made me think it was more than just Jack she was speaking of…

GG also tried to say something to me several times which I could not quite catch, something about, “I am always tied by visitors bring me…” I think she said “inspiration”.  Whether she said “inspiraton” or not, that is what I heard.  And, our visit brought me inspiration:

God smiles on all of us.

I am so lucky to be reminded of this in such a poignant way.

This post is being shared at Heavenly Homemaker’s Gratituesday.  Please visit the links there to be warmed by what others are grateful for today.

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