Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lucy, Part 3: Loving Gigi

"For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well" -2Tim. 1:5 Grandmothers are the best. Reese, who is two and a half years old, and Lucy, who is four weeks old, have the best grandmothers ever. They call one "Gigi" and the other "Honey." They are both awesome women of God. "Honey" is Lisa, Mark's mom and "Gigi" is my Jeanie, Elizabeth's mom. Jeanie just returned from spending a couple of weeks in Des Moines after the birth of Lucy and had a great time. Of course, I survived on TV dinners and cereal, but I was more than glad to let Jeanie do her thing. When grandmothers "do their thing," blessing is enabled in many ways. Moms are supported. Jeanie spent many years rearing both Elizabeth and Eric and has a very experienced resume. It's like having a veteran sailor on the boat with you. When the sea grows stormy, everyone turns to the old captain (but Jeanie is certainly not old) for advice and support. And not only that, this veteran captain helped train the current captain. There is a trust already built between grandmother and daughter and mom can breathe a sigh of relief as she juggles all of her the responsibilities. Elizabeth and Jeanie are the best of friends and Elizabeth loves having her mom as Gigi. Grandkids are blessed. Reese and Lucy (though she's still tiny) absolutely love their Gigi. Reese and Lucy have a special bond with their grandmother. They sense the respect given grandmother by their mom. And that creates a bond that thickens their relationship. Their playtime, reading time and eating time are special. The security and confidence built into kids by their grandma is life changing and creates a positive springboard for future growth. Faith is passed. Just like Lois in the New Testament, the faith that is passed onto mom is meant to be passed to the kids. There is no better sermon than one lived out before the congregation. The life of faith lived out in a grandmother has an enormous effect on both mom and grandchildren. Gigi gave Reese a devotional book and Elizabeth said Reese just loves the stories. The building blocks for faith in God are being built early. Jeanie's example to the grandkids is life changing and eternal. Gigi's are encouraged. It's been said that, "the one who gives the blessing is the one most blessed." Jeanie absolutely loves her time with Reese and Lucy. We often pray for the kids and grandkids to be closer, but that's all in God's hands. For now, it's road trips and video chats to keep the connections up to date. Though Jeanie is back home now, she misses the time with Reese and Lucy. But the connection isn't about geography. It's about an emotional commitment and bond that are life long and life changing. Jeanie was raised and loved by her wonderful mother, who the grandkids call Granny. Jeanie's wonderful grandmother that we affectionately called Mamaw raised her. Mamaw passed away a few years ago, but her legacy lives on through her grandkids. Jeanie is a wonderful and wise woman with a compassionate heart and a servant attitude, all learned from Granny and Mamaw. Those same attributes are being passed from Mamaw to Granny to Gigi to Elizabeth, then on to Reese and Lucy. May the legacy continue. Thank you Gigi for your awesome example. And thank you Lord for making it all possible. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lucy, Part 2- Uncomfortable Growth

"…the testing of your faith produces endurance" - James 1:3 Our beautiful granddaughter Lucy continues to grow. She was born 5 lbs, 12 ounces, lost a few ounces the next few days, but she is gaining weight and filling out. While we were in the hospital, following her birth, the nurse explained the best way for Elizabeth to breast feed Lucy," You have to remove her warm outfit and blankets because she won't eat if she's too cozy." Apparently, newborns have to be a bit uncomfortable to sense the need to eat. Otherwise, they focus too much on their slumber. The truth is, we adults have to be uncomfortable as well. When we're cozy, we rarely acknowledge our needs. And it's that acknowledgement of need that begins the process of growth in our lives. When we're in a spirit of dependence, God can teach us and grow us. It's that attitude of need that leads us to the nourishment we need to stay healthy. There are several ingredients that produce an attitude of growth: Humility. We grow the most when we're the least prideful. Lucy is just a few weeks old and totally dependent on her mommy. She has yet to argue with Elizabeth about whether she should be fed or not. When Lucy's "meal" is served, she simply submits, latches on and fills her tummy. She doesn't claim to be "self sufficient" or demand her independence, she submits entirely to her mom. Perhaps that's why Jesus challenged us to have "faith like a child." He knows that when we're totally dependent on Him, we're in a great place of humility, freedom and growth. Trials. God is a trial machine. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Of course, we're convinced that if our lives were trial free, we'd be just fine. But when we "encounter various trials" we're actually being given an opportunity to grow. Just like Lucy's hunger, we can follow our trials to a place of nourishment and endurance. That's why we can "consider it all joy." When the blankets were removed from Lucy, she didn't fret over the lack of warmth. Instead, she rejoiced over the meal provided. We too have a choice to fret over the trial or rejoice in His comfort. Trust. Paul reminds us that it's not about the watering or the planting, but God who causes growth. "So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth" -1Cor. 3:7. Ultimately, when we decide to trust God and our circumstances, we grow in our faith and trust. In 2nd Corinthians 12, Paul describes a "thorn" that was given to him. He writes that he prayed for it to be removed, but God said he needed to have it to keep "from exalting myself." Paul trusted that God had a plan. Lucy has an innate trust that her mommy will take care of her. And Elizabeth has a deep love for both of her girls. Lucy continues to fill out and gain weight. She is growing up in a wonderful atmosphere of growth. God is in the business of creating these atmospheres of growth in our lives. That's the purpose of difficulty and trials. So, when the blankets are being pulled away from your life, focus on the One who gives nourishment and life. Instead of asking "why", focus on the Lord, the source of growth. And let your tummy be filled with peace. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lucy, Part 1: Unexpected Joy

"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven" -Eccl. 3:1 On December 26th we welcomed Lucy Katherine, our second granddaughter, into the world and she is absolutely beautiful. Elizabeth is well, Mark is a proud daddy and Reese is a great big sister. But the original due date was January 16th. Lucy Kate came a little earlier than we had all planned. It wasn't what we expected. It's important for us to learn to be flexible with God's timing. Passing that flexibility on to our kids teaches them to wait on God's bigger plan and to experience the joy that comes on the other side. "Change is fun!" Those aren't words spoken from the lips of most people. Blame it on birth order, moving a lot or having fluoride in our drinking water, but most of us don't like change. We conclude that if things stay the same, we don't have to deal with rearranging our schedules and our lives. We avoid the difficulties. But we also miss the blessings. With our loving God at the helm, change is always, ultimately always, a good thing. Change keeps our dependency on God. We'd planned on spending half of the Christmas break in Fort Worth with my family and the other half of the break in Baton Rouge with Jeanie's family. We love our families. There's nowhere else we'd rather be than with them. But we found out right before Christmas that Lucy would be coming early. So, we went north to Des Moines instead of south to Baton Rouge. Of course, everyone in Baton Rouge understood, but our plans were changed. Our organized, Ical programmed, laid out and systematic plans yielded to God's better plan. If we depend on Him, there's peace in knowing He knows what's best. Change is usually uncomfortable. When we left Fort Worth the day after Christmas, to drive to Des Moines, a major winter storm had just hit north Texas. It took us over 14 hours to make the trek through the Midwest. We sat, stopped, for an hour on the Interstate through Denton. The drive was long and when we arrived at the hospital in Des Moines, it was nearly midnight. But we made it and saw our beautiful Lucy. Journeys of change are usually that way: unexpected, difficult, and unprepared. But the reward for persevering through the struggle is worth it- especially if it's a beautiful granddaughter. Change brings joy. James 1:2 says to "Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." Most trials are simply changes to our plans. The "testing of our faith" is truly uncomfortable, but joy comes with knowing there's something better on the other side. We can experience joy if we trust that God's plan is much better than our plan. We can even say "thank you" for the trial when we yield to God's wisdom. We all like to stick to our plans, but when God overrules and circumstances change, we need to yield ourselves to God's bigger will. Our plans changed over Christmas and we welcomed our beautiful granddaughter Lucy. Plans come in all shapes and sizes. In whatever way God interrupts our schedules, may we yield to His will. And experience joy in the trial. Whether her name is Lucy or not… By Eric Joseph Staples ©