Friday, July 20, 2012

Ode to Keller

Ode to Keller

This is not really an ode, which is structured lyrical poetry.  This really is dedicated to Keller – some of my rambling memories.

For years I have kept scraps of paper with people’s names on it, adding to the lists, scrunching and turning handwriting into the margins until there was truly no more room for my scribbles.  These are my prayer lists.  The Nepalese hang beautiful, multi-color cloths as prayer flags – mine are not as visually vibrant but still heard.  I have neatened up a little in recent times with my growing list of names kept organized in Notes on my I-pad. If you’re reading this, your name is probably on my list! So ever since my boys have been married men, I have prayed for God to bless their own families with babies and, importantly, asked repeatedly for God’s wisdom in the timing.  Wow, was that prayer answered so perfectly!

Last summer, after sinking away from us into the disease of Alzheimer’s, Darrell’s mother Laverne passed away. Jonathan and Erica came to town to attend the funeral and before leaving us, they gave us some surprising good news – they were going to have a baby, our first grandchild!  Wasn’t God’s timing just perfect on that one?  The circle of life was moving in our family.  Tears of sorrow mixed with tears of joy!

Having not yet consulted a doctor, they would not give us permission to spread the news just yet.  So after waiting the allotted time (I admit that I cheated and helped a few people guess what was on my mind all the time), we hosted a fun, belated birthday party for Darrell at Blue Mesa Grill in Southlake where the real theme of the party was announcing grandparenthood!

Thanksgiving marked a time for more family gatherings. So with an eager group gathered together, Erica treated us to cake ball sweets to answer our next anticipatory question.  Blue cake = it’s a boy!

So the months and days passed as I was working through what I had decided was my last year of teaching.  The ladies congregated for a lovely shower at the Colleyville home of Dana White and we passed on the age-old tradition of gifts, games and light hearted gossip.  The due date approached and we planned our grandparent visit to Austin.  My friend and recently retired co-worker, Sara Snell, was booked to be the sub in the middle school math classes for as long as needed and I worked many late hours preparing the lessons for my extended absence.  The due date passed and we wondered when the event would actually happen!  Finally, the word coming from a scheduled doctor visit was that Erica would be at the hospital to have labor induced on April 17th if birth had not yet happened.  We had a date that would be easy to remember since Jonathan’s birthday is the 17th of July and Erica’s is the 17th of August.

Probability lessons in 8th grade math…Jonathan and Erica kept the name a secret but gave us a tidbit, the initials of KB…so I made up a little contest and a fairly complex math problem for my students.  What is the probability of guessing the correct name of the baby boy, given that his initials are KB?  2 guessed Keller, 5 guessed Ben, and one correctly guessed Keller Ben! Keller means Champion and Keeper of the Cellar (as in wine cellar) and is the local suburb where Jonathan and Erica lived in their first house.  Ben is named after my dad, Benny Kohn.

A tradition at Colleyville Middle School was drawing names of a faculty member at the beginning of the school year – you bring birthday cake for the person for their school celebration.  This year, I picked Valerie Kraeg whose birthday was on Monday April 16th.  She liked angel food caked with pink icing like her mom used to bake for her when she was a little girl – so that was my plan.  Well, my plan blossomed into more than just cake, inspired by our late friend Mike Hyde whose words rang in my mind, “Let’s make a big deal about everything!”  The inbox of my email contained an ad from M&Ms candy offering me a nice discount for being a previous customer so I was further inspired by words from a recently popular book and movie, The Help, “You are smart. You are kind.  You are important.”  I order some pink and white candies for Val that read, “Val is cool.  Val is smart.  Val is pretty.” The CMS garden club girls helped me make pink and white tissue paper flowers and I decorated the teacher’s lounge on Friday before leaving school for the weekend.  On Sunday, I baked Neapolitan cupcakes found on Pinterest and baked an angel food cake, also buying another from Tom thumb’s bakery to serve with strawberries and whipped cream.  The baked cake fell because I was in a hurry and tried to put the pink frosting on it before it was completely cooled.  Oh well, maybe quantity and creative table d├ęcor would trump the fallen angel food.  I went to bed content with my efforts.

4 a.m. Monday morning April 16th (Val’s birthday) we get a phone call from Jonathan – they are at the hospital and it is the real thing!  We jumped out of bed and started getting ready to leave town.  But I had birthday celebration goodies to deliver to CMS – thanks to Stephanie Dulaney for letting me interrupt her regular routine of getting ready for school.  She’s the teacher – mate who lives the nearest to me and she agreed to transport all my stuff and set it out for Val.  On a beautiful spring morning we hit the road south, maneuvering through all the highway construction of DFW and then sailing on down the familiar sights of I-35 between here and Austin.  When we stopped for a break near Georgetown, I walked Tex through a pretty patch of grass and blanket flowers while Darrell got a phone update – dilating and pushing starts soon! We pulled over next at Round Rock because that phone call said, “He’s here!  Keller Ben Green, 9 lbs., 5 oz. and 21 inches long.  We couldn’t wait to see him!

Arriving at the hospital, we were directed to the labor/delivery room.  Erica was there with a nurse, looking quite beautiful, and she sent us on to the nursery where Jonathan was found with his son.  Total joy and admiration!

Later we took turns holding Keller, sharing him with Jonathan, Erica, Erica’s dad Gene and her Aunt Georgia, in their assigned hospital room that had a view of the UT Tower.  Fireworks were not going off that afternoon, but celebration fireworks were going off in my heart!

Family time in Austin filled our next two weeks as we happily helped with the newborn, errands, meals and household chores. La Quinta also got some extra business as the welcome extended to include meeting aunts and Uncle Travis, Chelsea, Gail, Mary and great grandparents Benny and Sue Kohn.  Keller, you brought a brighter light of love into our lives!  We look forward to watching you grow and teaching you all the things we consider important.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Psalm 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 

Matthew 19:14 Do not hinder the little children from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

You May Say I'm a Dreamer


Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

What’s on your bucket list?  What do you imagine as your best possible life?  What brings you true happiness?  What are the desires of your heart?

For me, happiness = holding a baby, preferably my own grandson, Keller Ben Green.

 My best possible life = what I have now:  longtime marriage to a good man, children who have grown to be successful, productive, caring adults, comfortable house in a convenient location, connections to a strong circle of family and friends, citizenship in a town of history, vision and character, membership in a church that is committed to worship and service, retirement from a stimulating career, access to enjoyment from music, art, good food, nature and sports…aahhh, life is good.  Darrell bought the Life is Good T shirts to match each day of the week when he retired from IBM and now my own collection is up to a count of three!
My bucket list = travel to England, Scotland & Ireland; travel to Hawaii; church mission trip to Kenya; explore in Big Bend National Park;

attend concerts by Carole King, James Taylor, Bette Midler; watch golf at a U.S. Open;

captain my own boat on Lake Grapevine;

and hold more grandchildren.

A few weeks ago at Project Read I said goodbyes to a mom and her three little girls of whom I had grown fond through the years of this weekly summer activity.  They were moving back to Mexico to the town of the mother’s birth - the three girls had all been born in Texas and they were bubbling with anticipation of meeting their grandmother for the first time.  I can’t imagine having precious grandchildren, ages 3 to 9, whom I had never met!  Rather than getting caught up in the “issue” of immigration or any other current social controversy, I choose to follow the suggestion of one of my pastors, think of individuals (rather than issues) you know personally – build positive relationships with them, encourage them with prayers and presence. I pray that this family will flourish in the uncertain safety of their country.

So as I continue to try to live my life with delight in the Lord, I acknowledge him for his continuous blessings, I praise him for this beautiful world he created for us, I worship him as the supreme power, I accept his love and grace, I sing to him (a joyful noise), I read his message to us in the Bible and seek to understand, I pray for my family, friends, their requests and myself, I keep myself open for awareness of his miracles and angels among us.

2 Corinthians 6:8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

Psalm 103:17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And his righteousness to children’s children.