The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
Even as I write those words my eyes mist with tears.
I am well acquainted with the givings and the takings of life. I am sure you are too. We don’t get very far in our journey without experiencing both.
Recently, I had another “the Lord takes away” event that has left me with a hole in my heart about the size of three precious grandchildren.
I had 12 terrific years of living across the field from Elyse who is now 14 years old, Celeste who is on the verge of 11, and Ethan who is 9 and a half. I was close enough to see them in their yard, hear them playing or taking the dogs out for breaks. They were close enough to hear me whistle at them, and they scanned the horizon looking for me. We both would wave a great big “hi” and talk loudly to each other.
The “Lord gives” part of this experience filled me to capcity. How often I felt sad for grandparents who didn’t get to see their grandchildren like I did. I was allowed the precious privilege of watching them grow from babies to teen, preteen, and big boy status. I was a “Grammy close by” for many wonderful years and adventures. Recently, the grandchildren and their parents moved almost 700 miles away.
But I was on the receiving end of the Lord’s giving for 12 wonderful years.
I rocked the babies, cuddled the toddlers, cheered when they learned to walk and talk and use the potty.
I attended soccer games and piano recitals, school talent shows and awards day. I visited their church when they sang solos on Sunday mornings and Christmas programs.
They put on aprons and helped me prepare food. We baked cookies and their very first batch of homemade Rice Krispy Treats. They learned to set the table at my house where we had family birthday and holiday celebrations.
They drank my special blend of Hot Cocoa Mix from the Saturday-morning-after-spending-the-night mugs. There were always plenty of marshmallows. They sat on the three stools at our kitchen counter to stir and mix, to pat biscuits, to nibble or eat lunch. The conversations we had were priceless. They are my Three Amigos full of smiles and chatter and hugs and “I love you, Grammy.”
I’ve carried their tired bodies to bed. I’ve bandaged their boo-boos. I’ve washed their dirty feet after playing outside barefoot, calling it a “foot washing.” I’ve tucked in their sleepy heads. I’ve listened to some of the sweetest and funniest prayers at bedtime and at meals. I’ve prayed prayers of blessing over them, naming their gifts and talents, and asking God to use them for His glory.
I answered questions and helped explain math and told stories about my life when I was a girl. I rocked them by the fireplace until their legs grew so long that they touched the floor.
I took them to plays, to church, to work. They accompanied me to the mall, the grocery store, yard sales and Goodwill.
We hit croquet balls, softballs, wiffle balls, basketballs and badminton birdies in our yard. I’ve seen chalk drawings all the way down my driveway, art that was too quickly washed away by the rain. Sweet William and I watched them play the very life out of an appliance box in one afternoon.
They learned to win and be good losers at regular checkers, Chinese checkers, and Jack Straws. I taught them to play The Game of Life on the same board on which my mother taught my son.
I told them Bible stories and challenged them to live obedient to God. We’ve sung praise songs in the car on road trips. We’ve boogied to the beat of Steven Curtis Chapman or the final song at movie’s end as the credits rolled. They listened to my classical and worship CDs and learned to appreciate different styles of music. They were offered musical instruments to play and experiment.
We’ve eaten popcorn while we watched a movie they had seen so many times they could recite the words. And they did.
We had tea parties and dress up games. They pretended to be ballerinas, pirates, doctors, mothers and daddies, puppy dogs, kittens, heroes, and damsels in distress.
I could probably go on, but I think you see the picture. My life has been full and overflowing for 12 years. The Lord gave.
Now it is time for the rest of the phrase to be my life. How can I complain when I’ve been blessed with so much, with more than most grandparents have in a lifetime?
At the moment I realize I am very much at the center of my own universe. It’s all about me right now, my loss, my pain, my loneliness, my tears and how I am going to handle it.
As the leaves begin to die and loosen their connection from the tree, making their way to the ground, I identify and feel myself in an Autumn season. The fullness and ripeness of summer has given way to the endings of fall. Winter will come soon this year.
But winter will end, as it always does. And Spring will break forth in all her glory. I have to believe in the hope of a spring season. As one dear friend wrote to me, “I whisper a prayer for you often that God would . . . comfort your heart and reveal His glory through it all.”
Comfort. Revelation. God’s glory through it all. That’s what I want. I will wait with hopeful expectation, endure the winter and look toward the spring.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.