Monday, January 3, 2011

The Wheels on the Van Go 'Round and 'Round

Clementine with Mom's electric candles. When I was a little girl, I used to read by a single candle in this set, which I pulled from my bedroom windowsill when I was supposed to be sleeping.

When I tell you that my beloved (while driving) sang made-up songs that included the phrases "mud butt" and "cries all the time," and asked questions like, "MeMe, did you just throw a hamburger at me?" you can guess that I thought the climate in my minivan less than optimal.  At one point, Jim called, "Sir? Sir? Sir?" into a drive-through microphone until the Wild Orange Parrot started calling the same words with the same inflection, and all of us cracked up laughing: you would have to have been there!  Suffice it to say: my idea of a party does not include traveling with two babies.

But it was worth it. 

I was blessed to meet two beautiful girls, new to the world...

My Niece, Adalynn Grace Galyon

Carley Larryssa Bell. The ear in the pic is shaped like her papaw's. I loved him, & I have loved Carley's mama since she looked very much like Carley does, now.

My brother met his third godchild...

Carl II "Buck" & Charleigh

My children spent quality time with their grandparents...

Dad & Clementine

Jim's Mom & Clementine

Mom & Charleigh

And cousins...

Charleigh, Boone, Cade, Carl III "CJ," & Clementine

Charleigh & CJ

Adalynn, Cade, Clementine, & Charleigh (Not Pictured: Jasmine)

The other evening, Jim and I dedicated Charleigh to the Lord.  My parents and brother's family were present, as well as my sister-in-law Sarah's parents; her dad, Rob, has--at this point--officiated Jim's and my wedding ceremony, Cade's baptism, and Clementine's and Charleigh's dedications.  After we all bowed our heads and prayed for Charleigh, Rob led us through communion.  Although uncapturable by camera, our family's tradition of sharing the Lord's supper at the closing of the year produces indescribable awe and fellowship.  I would have traveled for this, alone.

At Jim's mother's, I found the scene equally uncapturable by camera.  Less than four years ago, my mother-in-law had two unmarried sons in their thirties; since then, her family has grown by two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren, and all of us (save one grandchild) celebrated Christmas, in her home, on New Year's Eve.  We packed like sardines into the bedrooms, but I slept blissfully, having witnessed the members of this family really connecting.  Jim's brother Terry gave us an original, framed painting; his talent is newly discovered, but sure.  Jim had purchased and inscribed a Bible for Terry's new daughter Adalynn, and the look that passed between brothers was nothing shy of beautiful.  And Jim's mom glowed with joy in having all of us together.

So each of us reaches, and the reaching matters more for self--and between self and Savior--than what happens thereafter.  Harold Loukes writes, "An act of love that fails is just as much a part of the divine life as an act of love that succeeds, for love is measured by its own fullness, not by its reception."  But aren't we especially blessed when we reach and experience reaching back?!  While in Tennessee, I walked into pair after pair of open arms.

It grieves me that I don't see my loved ones more often than I do, but I've returned from Tennessee with a renewed desire to do everything I can to get to them when I can get to them.  I glimpse human frailty even in some younger than I, and I know our moments together are fleeting; blessed; and worth the chaos in my thunk-clunking minivan of screaming babies, made-up-songs-singing husband, sweet-tea-saturated passenger seat, persistent Burger-King odor, and bleary and cracked windshield.  Whenever I get, finally, to wherever it is they live, they sure do love me hard.

Charleigh and Uncle Bernie, who took the time to call me, recently, when I was at a particularly low point.  So we visited.  Glad we did. 

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