Category Archives: Grandchildren

Inspiring Friends (Written by my Inspiring Friend, Lisa!)

How do you respond when you’re stumped by a question from a child?  How important is the correct answer?  Even trivia can be challenging.

luton-park-mi-wildflowers“What’s that flower called, Grandma?” my friend, Charylene’s, granddaughter asked as they walked along a trail through the woods.  She answered honestly, “I used to know that, but now I don’t remember.”img_6793 This exchange challenged my friend anew to research flowers, their names as well as facts about their biology, history, and use.  img_6792Sharing a love of photography with her granddaughter, they “hunted and shot” flower pictures from various angles, providing invaluable time together.   achillea-millefolium-white-yarrow-charylene-powersThen, after gathering accurate information, she decided to write a description of each flower’s fun facts as well as how she saw God working through them to speak to her faith, since all creation declares His glory.  daisies-by-charylene-powersAs she learned more about flowers and their various purposes, she tied in spiritual truths to be “rooted and built up in Christ” (Colossians 2:6-7).  asclepias-tuberosa-butterfly-weed-by-charylene-powersNow she’s joined our writer’s group and is in the process of making a book to share with her grandchildren, combining the beauty of macro-lens photos with the glory of God’s living and active word.  She’s sharing her faith through wildflowers!  echinacea-purple-coneflower-by-charylene-powers
I appreciate seeing her progress as she works toward this worthy goal.  She sets an example that it is never too late to learn or try new things so she can share wisdom and faith with the younger generation.  She offered and took me to the prairie restoration site near her home so I could experience and learn for myself.  luton-park-miI felt inspired and challenged to consider how I can share my passion for learning and for the Lord with others.  I even spent time at our writer’s retreat writing a devotional about how we can pay attention and share the various gifts, truth, and talents we’ve experienced with others.  img_9081Who asks you questions? What gifts, wisdom, and talents do you have that can be shared to inspire others?  img_0413Romans 1:20 – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”  img_0430Isaiah 40:6-8 – “A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?'”

“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

The most important question and answer:  And Jesus continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” Mark 8:29 (NASB)

(Guest Author: Lisa Walkendorf. Thank you, Lisa!! You’re a gem. Also, Charylene shared four of the flower photos that she took that day, so a special thank you to Charylene as well!)

Bend Over Peaches and Bend Over Friendships

Riding the Fruit Loop ExpressHave you ever eaten “bend over” peaches?Peaches on peach tree I don’t even know what their real name is or what variety they are,Green Bluff WA but while visiting Jon and Linda in Spokane, Washington,Waiting for the Fruit Loop Express. Green Bluff WAwe went to Beck’s Harvest House in Green Bluff to pick peaches, Country Store at Beck's Harvest Houseand the guide told us they had Red Havens, White Havens, Country Market at Beck's Harvest Houseand “bend over” peaches. PIcking PeachesWe ended up getting a mix of all three types.Little Girl helping make peach piesThe Red Havens and White Havens make perfect pies, but for sheer yumminessMaking pies with Grandmaif you’re going to eat them fresh, my vote goes to the bend over peaches.

Peaches in sunshineBend over peaches are the sweetest and best. They melt in your mouth and can only be eaten outside or over a sink, because the juice runs down your arms, and if you don’t bend over, your clothes inevitably get stained!

Girl blowing dandelion seedsSince coming home, I’ve been thinking about
how our sweetest and best relationships also require bending over. Family hugsWe reach out, but we also need to bend over…sometimes backward.
(Jon and Gerlinde’s family really bent over backwards to make us feel loved!)Grandpa blowing on dandelionIn order to truly express love to others, we meet them where they are, and almost none of us are exactly the same height—physically or spiritually! Right? Girl blowing dandelionTo know someone well, it takes the exercise of all our senses
(physically and spiritually) to engage with them:  Little girl looking at rosesTo see them clearly, Children loving their new baby sisterto express love through touch, Playing with baby's toes to hear them and have fun with them, Lady smelling rosesto experience their fragrance, Empathyand empathize with their pains…Little girl feeding sheepand that usually includes bending over to get closer! Mother helping daughter with readingI wonder how many times I’ve failed to bend over backward
to express love in my friendships. Playing in peas at Beck's Harvest HouseI wonder how many times I’ve gotten “stained” because I didn’t even understand that I should bend, or because I was too proud or inflexible to be willing to bend.Little girl playing in dried peas I wonder how much I miss of the Lord by not humbly reveling in his goodness, bending my heart to Him and my will to His. He is the best and sweetest friend!Little girl at drinking fountain “O taste and see that the Lord is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).

Introducing our Newest Little Miracle from Heaven: Marie

Grandma holds MarieWednesday, I wrote about Miracles from Heaven, but I believe there are miracles happening around us every day if we just stop to think about it. One of those miracles is our fifteenth grandchild, who made her appearance early this month, and this morning I wanted to share just a little bit about her.

Riding the Merry-Go-Round in Spokane WAMarie made her appearance later than anticipated, so I’d already arrived at Jon and Linda’s home, giving me some very special bonding time with their two girls. Making peach pieWe’d taken a motor home trip with them last summer, so Biggest Sister was already excited to see me, but it took Almost Big Sister a bit of time to take me in. Choosing items from a menuFunny how positive you can feel about being accepted as an appropriate mother substitute when it comes time for bathroom toiletries, isn’t it?!  🙂Meeting Baby SisterAt any rate, we had a wonderful time anticipating the arrival,
and meeting little Marie was such a blessing and joy! Newborn sleepingShe’s as pretty as a picture and as sweet as sugar. In the parking lotJonathan brought us over for a first precious visit at the hospital,
and since it was the day before Mama and Marie could really come home, Choosing Donuts with Dadhe then sponsored a birth day party for us, complete with donuts,Birthday Donut one with a candle on top! Watching Doctor check babyWhat a miracle each new child is, don’t you think? Holding Baby sisterWe could never create a baby, and yet, without even knowing how,
babies grow within the womb and come to birth.Back to Sleep It never ceases to amaze me and fill my heart with joy. Life is such a gift! Daddy's girlsWith every child, I think God is saying, “I love you! I love this child.”Taking turns holding new baby“Love this child with me, will you?” Praise God for children!Mother and Newborn BabyLo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward
” (Psalm 127:3).

Celebrating 100 Years of Inspiration: America’s National Parks

Rafting in the Grand TetonsGuess what? Today marks the 100th birthday of America’s National Park Services! To celebrate, the park services are offering free admission to their 59 national parks from right this minute through Sunday. If you live close enough, I hope you can take advantage of this offer and celebrate by enjoying some of Americans gorgeous 51.9 million acres of national parklands! Mt_Saint_Elias Wiki Public DomainDid you know that our largest national park is in Alaska? Wrangell-St. Elias has over 8 million acres and is larger than each of our nine smallest states! As I looked at all the fascinating parks available, I realized that I’ve only seen 28 of them in my 65 years. I think after Alan and I retire, I want to see a bunch more! Yellowstone ParkBack in 1872, Yellowstone became America’s first national park, and it is still among my favorites. Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir in YosemiteFor those of you who are Disney aficionados like our family, you probably remember John Muir urging Teddy Roosevelt to start a national park to protect Yosemite from redwood lumbering, lamenting, “…or what will our children inherit, seedlings?” Actually, that was back in 1903, and I found an excerpt on the Sierra Club’s website from Teddy Roosevelt’s journals about that trip: Yosemite National Park“John Muir met me with a couple of packers and two mules to carry our tent, bedding, and food for a three days’ trip. The first night was clear, and we lay down in the darkening aisles of the great Sequoia grove. The majestic trunks, beautiful in color and in symmetry, rose round us like the pillars of a mightier cathedral than ever was conceived even by the fervor of the Middle Ages. Hermit thrushes sang beautifully in the evening, and again, with a burst of wonderful music, at dawn.” Isn’t that poetic?Yellowstone FallsIt wasn’t until August 25, 1916 that Woodrow Wilson officially created a National Park Service, and since that time, they have established 450 areas that are protected because of their historical, cultural, recreational, and/or natural beauty. Quite a heritage for Americans, and for the world at large! Grand TetonsAs someone entering her senior years, this makes me stop to ponder what I’m leaving as a heritage for my children and those around me. I pray that what I leave is worth possessing..and much more of wisdom than wealth.

Family ReunionA good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.
(Proverbs 13:22)  Children playing on shore of lake in Grand TetonsThe just man walks in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7)Father tying son's shoe

The Spider in my Eye

Mouse_spider. Wiki jpgFor two summers I saw a tiny set of Mickey Mouse ears in my right eye every time I’d swim on my back and look up at the bright blue sky. It was so tiny I figured an ophthalmologist wouldn’t be able to see it and would think I was just imagining things, and as it didn’t seem to change, I decided it probably wasn’t cancer. It wasn’t a “floater” because it didn’t move. Maybe the beginning of macular degeneration? At any rate, I figured if it ever changed shape, I’d go to the doctor.

And then, this summer, it had changed shape and looked like a tiny rectangle, so I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist for the end of July. However, the day came when I started seeing a bright light flash off and on at the peripheral edge of my right eye, and within a few hours I felt a sharp pain in my head, followed by a tarantula appearing in the upper right side of my visual field. Not good! Having heard stories of friends who’d had trouble with retinal tears, detachment, and blindness (and having Alan tell me the problem needed to be addressed urgently), I called the ophthalmologist’s office the next morning. Thankfully, after an examination, the doctor said I’d had a vitreous detachment but at present, no problem with the retina or macula. Older age setting in, but nothing too unusual. Whew! Interestingly, now I have a spider “floater,” but the tiny rectangle is gone, which the doctor presumes is the result of less pressure on the middle of my eye.

She warned me that I’d be particularly vulnerable for this coming month, so I should avoid jarring myself, bending over sharply, or bearing heavy weights. Umm…and this is my special Grandma Month! I remembered that just the day before, when the problem started, I’d decided to go jogging, and I’d also spent quite a bit of time picking up and carrying around one of my grand children! If I’d gone to the doctor earlier, she would doubtless have cautioned me against such activities, and I might (if I’d been wise) adjusted my life style and avoided the problem.

Do you ever try to self-diagnose your own problems? I think the older we get, the more we’re likely to try to ignore potential problems rather than address them, figuring that there aren’t good solutions available. However, may I encourage you to have things checked out with a savvy specialist as soon as you notice something amiss in your body? It’s true, even professionals may not be able to recognize or diagnose your problem immediately, but at least you’ve got a baseline and track set, so that if symptoms increase, you’ve got more points on your line for diagnosing problems. AND, you might get some helpful tips on how to manage yourself to minimize the possibility of further problems.

Also, what about spiritual problems and diseases? Ever try to self diagnose? If you’ve noticed the beginning of a spiritual problem—even a tiny one that you think no one else could see or understand—may I encourage you to turn to God, his Word, and a wise minister for some pastoral care and recommendations? Godly advice can help us diagnose our problems and avoid all sorts of behaviors that will increase our risk for spiritual disease and blindness.

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

For full-blown spiritual problems, here’s some wise counsel from Ephesians 4:

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

27 Neither give place to the devil.

28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

(Ephesians 4:17-32)

Looking Forward to a Month of Joy

I wrote today’s post before the last round of violence against African Americans and the shooting last night in Texas, which left 5 police officers dead and another 7 wounded. My heart breaks for all those who are mistreated. As a nation, we are deeply at fault for our racial prejudices, but killing law enforcement agents won’t solve anything. May we learn to love and respect every person around us, regardless of their racial heritage or other differences, and let’s pray for peace and goodwill toward all men.

13411743_10208800653587613_3919860395369091998_oBut, on a brighter note, Michael’s family is here from Italy for a couple of weeks, 12647237_10153423249133602_5887646373441466842_nand not long after, I’ll have the privilege (Lord willing) of spending two weeks11063849_1664731330482212_3640133364170806795_o with Jonathan’s family, welcoming into their home a third daughter!

So, for the next month, I won’t be writing much, although I am planning to continue my Song of Solomon studies each Sunday, and during the weeks I hope to share a few thoughts from movies and books I’ve read lately. But, if you’re one of the few who actually read my posts regularly, please pardon my month-long holiday! I am still always available by email (kathrynwarmstrong at gmail dot com) or on Facebook (Kathryn W. Armstrong, and “Yes!” I’d love to be your friend, so just ask!), and I’ll gladly continue to pray about anything if you message me. God is good. May He bless you richly as you lean on Him.

13418434_10208800656067675_8994488799559572335_oLet all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified” (Psalm 40:16).

Struggling with the Straps

Baby playing with Mother's apron stringsWe had big plans for a double date with Dan and Brianna
to go out for Chicago-style pizza at Crust 54 in Holland (Michigan)
and take Baby Samuel for his first trip to the beach this spring… Baby standing by MamaHowever, Baby Samuel was not on board with the plan!

Baby not happy in car seatIn fact, he’s at that stage where being confined to his baby seat in the car just about tops out his list of least favorite ways to spend a minute, and he spent much of his time during the half-hour trip pulling at his straps, despite Brianna and I trying our best to distract him with songs and games. Baby trying to get straps off in car seatI will say, though, I admire his style! I’ve been with many a toddler who expresses his displeasure by screaming inconsolably at the top of his lungs from onset to offset of any automobile adventure. Samuel never cried at all…just kept pulling at his straps trying to figure out how to get them off. I wondered if his patience was the result of his 97-day stay in the NICU when he was a micro-preemie, or if he’s just blessed with a gentle disposition.

Chicago-style PizzaIn either case, he was eventually rewarded for his longsuffering
with some yummy tastes of pizza Mother with Baby at Holland State Parkand expansive views of more water
than he can probably ever remember seeing before. Baby sleeping in car seatOn the way home, he seemed more content
and let Brianna and me jolly him up much of the time before drifting off to sleep.

Father and Son at Holland State ParkWhat a good boy he is, and I dare say he conserved a lot of energy, since fussing and fuming wouldn’t have gotten him anything but exhausted on the way over to Holland State Park (which is along Lake Michigan; Southwest Michigan was settled largely by devout Dutch, and we are blessed by their faith-based, clean-living, industrious culture), and then he might have slept through all the fun. Baby riding quietly in car seat I would like to be like Samuel…patient in trials. Next time I’m subjected to something that stops my action and forces me to be still for awhile, I will try to remember the example of my grandson, who did everything he knew how to do but was quiet and largely uncomplaining. I’ll try to be content and wait to see what the surprising end of the journey will be.  First trip to Lake Michigan in the spring“Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:5-8).