Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Grandma and the President

My friend recently returned home from a foreign country. While at her local market she was reminded that American workers have a cheerful welcome, a kind greeting and helpful smiles. It's not like that where she lived across the ocean.

Yesterday during an hour of errands, I was asked for help from people who spoke with accents from four different countries. They were hard to understand because they were new in America.

They asked me for help and it was an honor. They trusted that I would be helpful, patient and aware so they were comfortable approaching me. It's what we do in America. We help one another, even strangers.

I like living in a country where people say, "Happy ThanksGiving!" and "Happy Turkey Day!"

I like it that people can go to work and earn an income or go shopping with family on the holiday. I like it when people stay home to watch football and eat pizza together instead of shopping.

And I like it that families can choose to neither shop or watch football, instead boycotting those choices they disapprove.

I like living in a country where people say "God bless you, ma'am" and "Merry Christmas!". A place where people can say "Happy Holidays" and celebrate the season even if they don't believe the Messiah has come.

I like living in a country where I can eat watermelon in July, caramel apples in Autumn and candy canes in December.

I like living in a country where people stop at a stop sign in the middle of the night even when nobody else is watching,.

I like living in a country where people pay their taxes because they would never cheat millions of fellow citizens. I like living in a country where I can respect and trust my government, my judicial system and decide for myself if I want to vote. I can hang my flag whenever or wherever I choose.

As a child, I once repeated something unkind I had heard about the president.

My gentle Christian grandma, who did not upset easily, said with snapping angry eyes and tense voice, "He is your president and he has been elected by the people of America. Whether you agree with him or not, you do not speak disrespectfully of the President of the United States. You are an American. You will respect the office of the president even if you don't respect something a president does."

She felt so strongly because she was honored to be a citizen of the United States of America. She liked living here. So do I.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Johnathan Goes Home

My home is familiar to Johnathan. He runs through the house from favorite spot to favorite spot almost every day. He is contented and secure here.

Favorite rocks, toys and gourds were scattered around the toddler as he played in front of the cozy fire. I was reading a book when he left his play, crawled into my lap and snuggled sleepily with his Pooh Bear.

Having already had his milk, evening snack and changed into pajamas, I said, "Time to go home. It's night-night for my happy boy."

Johnathan nodded and repeated, "Hap Boy. Nigh-Nigh."

As soon as I set him down on the threshold of his house next door, Johnathan ran toward the kitchen. "Mommy! Mommy!"

There was no welcoming smile on the dearest face he could see, no reassuring hug. Mommy was with the rest of the family attending a volley ball game. He ran back to me and, though a little bit disoriented and disappointed, there were no tears.

I cuddled him close, prayed over him and sang to him, our usual routine before I put him in the crib. He nestled happily under his quilt and was singing softly as I left his room.

I'm familiar and loved, but I am not Mommy, the center of his universe. My house is familiar and Johnathan loves it here, but it's not home.

I listened to Johnathan singing in his crib for several minutes. Even though he still mostly speaks baby talk and I couldn't understand the words, there was a sweetness in his singing, a peaceful security.

Almost daily I sit in front of a cozy fire and snuggle under a quilt with a cup of coffee in my familiar chair. I read my Bible, write in my journal, sing worship songs and pray.

It is my favorite spot in all the world, not because it's home, but because I'm with Jesus, the center of my universe.

This world is familiar, but it's not home. It is His welcoming smile I seek, the dearest face I could ever see.