She Facebooked her Friends and said “Rejoice with Me!…

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…for I have found the piece which was lost!”

Several sisters have asked about the lost dress. Facebook can be a huge umbrella of encouragement even in the mundane.  I know life’s not all about finding Cindy Colley’s heirloom dress, of all things, but I was truly humbled and amazed that so many of you cheered us on as we searched for and found a little dress that I very much wanted to put on BabyG2 next September.  Hundreds of you (literally) and many that I’ve never met have been the sweetest sisters a woman could ever have. I love Facebook for giving your encouragement to me. 

The dress was deep in a closet at Hannah’s (my daughter’s) house. It was in a garment bag hiding behind her wedding dress, which was in the back of that closet in another very huge garment bag. The funny thing was, I had everyone looking for a pink box in which I’d originally wrapped that dress for the gender reveal two years ago…the gender reveal that turned out to be for a boy. Thus, the dress was never opened at the reveal. 

What I had forgotten was that the dress had been removed from the box and used as an illustration at a ladies day in Middle Tennessee a few months after that reveal…the very weekend, in fact, that Ezra was due. (Thus the reason it never got out of my car at my house….It just went straight to Hannah’s house and got hung in a closet there because hospital luggage is not conducive to dress preservation.) That’s just where Facebook became very helpful. You found out I was looking and three of you remembered the dress. You identified where you saw it and the garment bag in which it had left the church building at East Main. In turn, I told my son Caleb (via his Facebook page) to stop looking for a box and start looking for a garment bag. Truth be told, I don’t think he’d done a whole lot of looking for either. (He’s a good egg, though.) But Hannah, being the faithful Facebook follower that she is, immediately saw that post about looking for garment bags. She had moved all the hanging clothes in that closet more than once, laid them on the bed and searched the back of that closet for a box. But this time, she rushed home and actually looked through those clothes she’d been moving  back and forth. She looked for a black garment bag. She found the dress and tried to call me…twice. Unable to reach me, she called her Daddy, who got in the car and drove across town with photos on his phone to spread the cheer.

When he walked in the kitchen door in the middle of last Tuesday, I was surprised to see him. 

“What would you give a man…?” he began. 

“You found my dress??!!”

“I think so. But what would you give a man?…Is this the dress?” He offered his phone and a series of photos.

“You found my dress!!!!” 

“Yes and you should call your daughter on that phone that I don’t even know why I pay for.…She wants to hear from you.”

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There are always lessons, of course. Here they are:

  1. If Facebook can find a lost dress, surely we can connect some dots and find some lost souls, too. Facebook is a more personal and encompassing kind of outreach than email or USPS. It’s the kind of networking in which you never know if a click that posts or comments may be the click that does click with some lost soul and opens a door to a relationship, a study, an invitation that could result in a saved soul.
  2. Facebook is a neutral commodity. You get to decide whether your use of it is for the Lord or for the devil. Now, finding a dress is not a work of the Lord. But encouraging each other, as Facebook friends did (and do regularly for me) through this medium, is a great way to get the most good out of something the devil loves to control.
  3. You’re never going to find what you’re looking for if you’re looking where it’s not. That dress was not in all those absurd places (like on top of way-up-there kitchen cabinet and in overflowing trunks where I would have never crushed that batiste and damp basement corners) where I was looking. Sometimes life is like that. We can’t find contentment. We look in all those hard-to-do absurd places instead of the obvious place where the “owner” of truth has put it in the first place. 
  4. You may be own, be picking up, carrying, and moving about the answer to all your dilemmas. But until you recognize that, open it up and really look inside, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Hannah did that with that garment bag. She moved it over and over as she looked other places, to no avail. That’s what we do with our Bibles. We lay them on the table beside our beds. We pick them back up and take them to worship. Sometimes we move them back and forth and back and forth without ever really opening and examining them. We move the book, but we don’t meditate on it, memorize it or mark it. There are many people who own a Bible but do not own truth. It’s very important that we show our kids the difference. The Bible is not a lucky amulet. It’s what’s inside that can bring us joy. But that joy exists for me only when what’s inside the book gets inside of me. Hannah had a garment bag that she was transferring mindlessly back and forth, while what was inside eluded us all. 
  5. Some people are so close to what they really want, but just not quite there. Jesus told a scribe as much in Mark 12:34. “You are not far from the kingdom,” Jesus said. I have many friends who are close to the kingdom. I hurt for them because, of  course, being close to the kingdom of God is not enough. Hannah was near that dress we were hunting each time we talked about it on the phone. It was sometimes right there in the same room with her. Close is not good enough. We have to give people the information they need to identify that for which they search. 
  6. Some news is so good, you want to personally deliver it. I love that about my husband. He loves to bring joy…not just to me, but to everyone in all circumstances. We have the very best news of all. When we understand the wretchedness of that from which the good news— the gospel—rescues people, we can’t be stopped. We are going to those people. We will move heaven and earth to reach them with the good news. In fact Heaven has already moved that they might have this good news. It’s up to us to make the move on earth. We simply must. We are going to tell them that we’ve found that for which they are searching. 

Sister to Sister: Dear Sweet Baby G2…

Dear Sweet Baby G2, 

You are a girl! My first grand-daughter! If I have another grand-daughter someday, I will not love you more, but I will always love you first. As we stood there for what seemed like about a forever in front of that tarp waiting for your brother to come out from behind with pink or blue cotton candy, I thought a bit about the historic moments in our family. Wasn’t it just yesterday that your Uncle Caleb danced around that hospital hallway looking through that nursery glass at your mother. That was a historic moment. 1391807_10151633143906384_1011208804_nThat little seven o’clock  pause in the party while we waited for the news about your gender was surely one of those moments, too. The color of cotton candy would tell us much about, not just the colors of clothes or the kinds of games we would play, but whether we would teach you to submit or to lead and whether you would be a provider or a gentle nurturer. That moment held the key to whether your dad would take you on your first hunt or your first date. It was a big moment.13002601_900378543529_1447357954307643429_o

I’m glad that in this year of your birth, when so much about gender is so mixed up by our liberal culture, that you have parents who draw sharp distinctions between the genders. You will be blessed to learn to cook and sew and take care of babies. You will be encouraged to be a keeper at home by your mom, who is one of the best keepers I know. You will grow up beside your brother, Ezra, who will learn first to protect you and later, to transfer his guardianship to his own family. He will learn to defend your honor and to show tender affection to his mother, while preparing to lead his own bride and, ultimately, the bride of Christ. He will get the sharpest picture of all of this from your dad.13002506_900365614439_5034103055690569568_o You’re blessed to get to be Ezra’s sister. He patted his mother’s tummy and said “baby” earlier this week, but he doesn’t have a clue about what you are about to do to his little world. That dynamic will be fun to watch!

I can’t wait to braid your hair, tie your ribbons, sew your dresses and read Cinderella and Goldilocks to you. I’m already getting out the tiny, now vintage, dresses your mother wore and washing the pink blankets. I’ve bought you a couple of things to wear, including a girly Alabama Crimson Tide  outfit and a pair of pantaloons with a “G” on the bottom. You are making for fun times on ebay and in the consignment stores. Your papa said “Oh dear. This girl thing means you are going to double your shopping addiction.”  He is one smart mathematician, your papa (and he was a very good sport playing “chubby baby” with pink marshmallows at your gender party!)13064624_900366308049_8267571567100253079_o But I will try to be good. After all, I have to show you how to be a smart and frugal shopper! 

As I’m thinking about you now, cocooned in that safe, dark place, I praise the One who is forming you there. He told Jeremiah that  he knew the plans He had for him before He even formed Jeremiah in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Is it not possible that he already has a plan for you…just like he did prior to birth for Jacob, for Moses, for Samuel, for Samson, David, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist? He’s already given you a soul that will live on and on…and on. You will always be younger than I, but you will never outlive me. Our continuum has a starting point, but no ending point.   We are both on a journey that has no end. Your life has begun inside a temple of the Holy Spirit. May your life grow to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to our holy God. 

I do not know how many of your years I will get to see. I hope I can watch you learn to walk and talk and read and write. I hope I can go to my mailbox one day and read a letter from you. I hope I can take you fishing and shopping and kite-flying. I want to skip rope and play house and watch Pollyanna and Bedknobs and Broomsticks with you. (Oh, and I Love Lucy, too.) I want to laugh and dance and make teacakes and living room tents with you. I want to push you in my big antique carriage and pull you in that little red wagon. I want to play games and run relays with you. (We like games in our family!)I want to watch you find wonderful trinkets in your Christmas stocking and in your Easter basket. I want to pick flowers and sing with you and Ezra while papa plays the guitar. I hope we get to do all these things and lots more. 12990953_900409955579_6704588746815333140_n

But there is just one thing I really, really HAVE to do with you. See, if I had to choose between doing all these things I’ve dreamed about and sitting around the throne with you, I wouldn’t even have to think about it. I’d choose heaven.You are a princess already and what I want most for you, little girl, is that seat around your Father’s throne. I pray every day that you make it safely into this world. But my most fervent prayer for you is about making it safely to that other world. It will, in this century in which you will live out your days, not always be easy to be a princess in His kingdom. Your world is pretty hostile to princesses in your Father’s kingdom. But it will be worth it. The “way” may be straiter and more narrow as you travel than it is for those who went on ahead of you. The devil is currently busy adding obstacles and constricting that way. But you stay the course. Your papa and I will be waiting.

P.S. Here’s the pink cotton candy: https://www.facebook.com/hannah.giselbach/videos/900363004669/

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Sister to Sister: Casts Collide!

10408793_808612822769_7343901606879980347_nI’m right in the middle of that generation we call “the sandwich generation”. We really should call my crew the “sandwichED ” generation because we are surely just the part of the sandwich that is squished between the bread. My bread this week was a seven month old and his wonderful parents on one side, and my 92-year-old father on the other. Lately, I’ve been feeling like someone obese has been sitting on my “sandwich”.

Last weekend, my father wanted to travel throughout the weekend to attend two of his sweet grand-daughters’ graduation ceremonies. I love that he still wants to do this family stuff. So I had the privilege of keeping him at my house throughout the weekend and making the “graduation tour” with him. My son-in-law, Ben, was speaking at one of these ceremonies, thus I had the extra privilege of having The EZRA household visiting, too. Four generations in my house last weekend made my sandwiched self pretty happy. But traveling to two graduations and attending two after-parties (one of my dad’s favorite parts of graduation) and getting home at about 11 o’clock pm the first night and  about 1 am the second night? What were we thinking?! I just prayed that my dad would be okay and carefully dropped him off at doors and made sure the seating was in close range of our stops and I had lots of help from my daughter and all of my father’s kids and grandkids. I knew there are always some risks of traveling with a nonagenarian, but I had to believe the joy it was bringing him was worth the risk. Ezra entertained everyone and my dad loved getting to be in the car with him.

It was truly hard to believe on Sunday afternoon when the diagnosis of bronchial pneumonia was given after the ambulance transported him from the doctor’s office to the hospital….Oh, it wasn’t Dad who was sick. Dad was at worship that morning and that evening. It was baby Ezra. He had RSV to go along with the pneumonia as well as an ear infection and lots of upper respiratory symptoms that come with RSV.  That little boy went from entertainer to fighting for breath pretty quickly.

And so continued the cast collision, I cancelled my scheduled root canal for Monday and entered a sleep deprived vortex, along with Ezra’s parents. My days this week were mostly spent on Four Mile Road with my father. My nights were mostly at the hospital with Ezra, while the parents came home for a nap.  And there was nothing boring about the collision. Here are some highlights:

  • We “nebulized”  at both places. At the hospital, I wrestled a flailing baby trying to keep that smoking wand of albuterol in his face. At home I instructed my father, “please don’t eat jelly beans while you do that breathing treatment.”
  • We pumped at both. At the hospital I witnessed an amazing and rhythmical breast pump. (They’ve come a long way since 1987.) At home, it was the wasp-covered pool pump. (Probably the same one as in 1987.)
  • We charted at both. At the hospital there was a chart I had to remember to mark for every feeding and every diaper change. (And when you are changing diapers that are antibiotic affected, the last thing you are thinking about is marking a chart.)  It made me compassionate at home when my dad forgot to mark his medicine chart.
  • We rejected meds at both. Ezra was obviously and verbally disgusted with the “not-so-grape-and-pretty penicillin-y” taste of that antibiotic. Dad was obviously and verbally disgusted with a couple of his meds, too. “The reason I am not taking that kind anymore is that I ran out of it and I do not like it, so I was hoping we could just…run out of it and be done with it.”
  • We treated algae at both. Well actually, at the hospital, Ezra and I watched a long 4 am episode of something that was a premiere to this grandmother. (Love to be up at 4 am finding new cartoons!) It was “The Octonauts” on the Disney channel and they were these cute little octopi who found out how to clean up the whole ocean from harmful algae. It was very environmentally and politically correct. But where were they when I was sweeping and treating  that pool out at Four Mile? That bottle of algae-treat that I bought at the pool store was so expensive that I half-way expected them to pop out when I opened it.
  • We ran meals-on-wheels at both. Sometimes I got so sleepy that I would almost forget which direction I was going with this coffee or this filet-of -fish sandwich, this bunch of half-price Cinco-de-Mayo Sonic slushes or these tacos. (Well, you do know you are not going to Four Mile with tacos, for sure.) And parking was at a premium at times at both places.
  • We answered lots of questions at both. PieDaddy wanted to know every detail about Ezra. “Is he getting a little bit back to normal?”… “Is my boy eating yet?”…”Is little boy smiling sometimes?” And at the hospital… “Is PieDaddy okay?” …”Where is PieDaddy’s Lysol, so I can spray every thing while I am there?” “Will you get PieDaddy to leave the light on and the door unlocked, so we can get in there and sleep a while?”
  • We figured out transportation. At the hospital, it was a bit challenging to figure out how you navigate a little red wagon up and down the hallways without unhooking it from the IV dispenser. But it was worth figuring out. At home, exactly how do you figure out driving issues for a 92-year- old who has his mind set on a new pick-up truck?
  • We read books; the Bible and a book about pigs going on a cruise at the hospital…the Bible and a book about the Crimson Tide at home.
  • We adjusted thermostats. At the hospital, we tried to make it a little cooler.  At home, we did, too. (But at home, whenever we got the temperature below 78, we found PieDaddy in his chair under a blanket.)…and back up it went.
  • We bargained. At the hospital to the nurse: “ I’ll give you five dollars if you will NOT wake that baby up this time.”  At home to dad: “ Tell you what. You eat this biscuit I brought you now and then after we take a nap, we will go to Betty’s for a barbecue potato.”
  • We sanitized. Gloves are at the hospital for holding the baby. Gloves are at home for doctoring the sore toe. (Sanitized may be a bit too strong a term for what we did at PieDaddy’s. I guess scraping up squished jelly beans off the kitchen floor before giving it a “lick and a promise” with the mop may not qualify. But toilets did get cleaned at both.
  • We prayed. At the hospital, I would drift off for a few minutes on that little couch while asking God to watch over and bless that little boy in the bed beside me.  At home, I heard PieDaddy pray for our baby…”that they will be able to help him get better.”
  • 11209738_828630921339_9127776047429791699_nWe’re all thankful for medical technology.  Is it any wonder that I ended up in my own doctor’s office yesterday afternoon and got my own needle sticks and prescriptions, and that, while I was waiting in line for the meds, I talked to Hannah, who would have already called in sick on any other job but the Mom job.  We’re all just praying that Dad steers clear since we did steer him clear of the hospital and we did spray Lysol all around Four Mile.

The sandwich generation is not so bad, really. In fact, it’s the best. There are blessings that those who never have the “bread” on both sides cannot know. There’s variety like you would not believe. But there’s also a “sameness” that will take your breath away when the generations roll on in the Lord. The 92 year-old is just a speeding arrow on the same course as the 7 month-old that’s just leaving the bow (Psalm 127). And one day, when we’ve been there ten thousand years, where we do not need hospitals or fast food or sanitizing agents or thermostats, the generational differences between the baby born in 1922 and the one born in 2014 will be unimportant; maybe even nonexistent.  I pray that there will be a great cast collision there. I pray I’ll be sandwiched between both casts around that throne.