Thursday, June 28, 2007

Summer in Somerset

A friend recently asked me to recall a memorable childhood summer. I sifted through memories of swimming, swimming, and swimming, our backyard pool filled with my brothers and friends of all ages from dawn to dusk. I thought of 100 degree Texas days when I thought the heat might actually melt my purple jelly shoes to my feet. But when it came to recalling one specific summer, it was an easy choice...

I was about ten years old when Granny invited me to spend two weeks of the summer with her. My brothers weren't invited, nor my parents, just me. Given the throng of our cousins and large family that typically gathered at the South Texas ranch, to be there by myself and have Granny's undivided attention was a real treat.

I'm sure we ate beans and tortillas every meal, I really don't remember. But I would remember if it had been something different, as that's the only meal Granny seemed to serve, period. And we all loved it. I especially loved the tortillas... big surprise.

Each day we walked up and down the dirt road from the house to the big oak at the highway. I forget how many laps made a mile, but Granny knew, and we walked 3 miles every day. I don’t remember constant conversation on those walks, though we would not have been at a loss for words. Being outside in nature was soothing for her, therapeutic, and she simply appreciated a slight breeze, the tall green grass that didn't have to be mowed, and swaying mesquite trees that provided pockets of shade in the sprawling front lawn.

We swam in the pool each evening and performed water ballet routines under the watchful eyes of cattle and horses grazing just beyond the barbed-wire fence. Granny's long, slender body every bit as agile as mine, I thought of her as a modern day Audrey Hepburn. Hair pulled back from her face, cheekbones prominent even without rouge, I can still see her sitting gracefully on the side of the pool with the silver Somerset water tower and huge oak trees framing her silhouette.

Granny told and retold stories, and I listened with delight, even when I already knew the ending. I’m sure I told my share as well. Granny appreciated stimulating conversation, so much so that she could dialogue with, laugh with, and even argue with animals to keep her mind sharp. Even though I offered a mere decade of insight, she was interested in my thoughts and opinions on things like politics, relationships and movie stars.

We stayed up until wee hours of the night, and I mean really wee hours... we read aloud to each other from her stash of books and magazines filled with quotes, quips and jokes. She laughed loud and long at the jokes I read... as I would come across ones that amused her, I read them over and over again, her laughter never subsiding. She loved the written word, and in those midnight hours we celebrated the beauty of poetry and prose alike.

Granny told me later the highlight of our time together that summer was when we went to her weekly painting class, and her teacher recognized me as her granddaughter. "You must be here with Gladys," he said when he saw me, though I’d never met him before. Granny got a kick out of the fact that our resemblance was so strong.

I look back on that summer with great tenderness, grateful for the time Granny poured into me, and for the intimacy that comes with shared interests. And grateful for a strong resemblance...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Learning Cents

I spent a little time yesterday talking money with my 5-year old son, Hudson. He has accumulated a little stash from gifts and the tooth fairy, and I attempted to help him divide his goods into piles for spending, saving and giving.
He wasn't a fan.
He was ok with spending, and even saving, but the giving away part really bothered him.
I had not anticipated that response (I'm a slow learner).
So we put the money aside and came back to it later, giving Hud some time to think on things without getting upset. He still wanted to know how he would get more money once he gave the dedicated amount away. I assured Him that God would provide more, especially if he gave with a cheerful heart.
Hudson paused for a moment, then looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Are you sure about all this? I really think money just comes down from the sky or something."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Weekend Snapshots

We spent last weekend at my parents' lake house, and Corbin even took an extra day off work to extend our "vacation." Two snapshots here sum up the weekend - Corbin fishing with the boys, and Cappy with the princess on her coach.
Our favorite Basden-ism lately... right before a meal is served she climbs onto her barstool, throws her arms out in dramatic flair and announces, "The Beauty is going to pray." I have no idea where she got this. Corbin rolls his eyes, telling me he knows exactly where she got this...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Tale of Two Brothers

I've been reading about Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel... two questions I'm wrestling with:
1 - Why in the world would God create Cain with a propensity for a rebellious, evil heart?
2 - Would I still love God if one of my children ends up like Cain, killing his brother and turning from God?

A quick synopsis: Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain, a farmer, and Abel, a herdsman. God rejects Cain's sacrifice of a portion of his crops, and accepts Abel's sacrifice of some of his best flock. Cain is so overcome with anger he kills Abel. Then even though God shows both punishment and mercy to Cain, his descendents continued in his ungodly character.

So I return to my questions... the 1st I really don't expect to answer, as men have been wrestling with this for centuries. Though it does baffle me that God would create us with the ability to turn away from Him. And what baffles me most, I guess, is that Cain is the son of two God-fearing parents! Ugh.
The 2nd question, however, hits home a little harder - is my faith pure enough, deep enough to continue in my love for and trust in God if one of my children is not only distant from God, but evil in his actions?

I have two heartbreaking examples in my life to draw from. One, a family whose young son committed murder and is now serving many years in prison. Did I mention heartbreaking? Because they are close friends and we have known this family for years, I can say with confidence that no one saw this coming. And his parents and sisters struggle. Yet their faith is deep, and they continue to choose to trust God. The second is a gentleman I met at Mt. Hermon this spring, whose son killed not only his own brother, but his mother as well. So this man, 4 years into grieving the deaths of his wife and teenage son, and dealing with the incarceration of his older son, radiates joy. The joy of Christ. I have no idea how, but I have seen it with my own eyes.

I think of Corrie Ten Boom in the Hiding Place, and her description of not being able to comprehend God's grace until we're in the place of desperation where we need it. I believe that. I find some solace knowing that I don't need God's grace right now for something that may or may not take place years from now. But I sense an urgency to consider the possibilities (and I'm even an optimist!) to somehow be more prepared. I don't know how I would respond to God. I imagine with much anger and disillusionment, but I believe He would give me the grace to trust Him.

Bottom line... I think this account from Genesis creates an awareness in me for learning to let go of my children... to realize that their salvation is not an extension of mine and my husband's, and that they will ultimately make their own choices. Something tells me this whole "letting go" thing will happen many times. Here we go...