One of my favorite hobbies is…

Sunday, June 12, 2011

One of my favorite hobbies is…

Today at work, I met a man that used to go to church with me. I never knew him very well, even when we knew each other. I haven’t spoken to him in years. I had to think about whether I even remembered his name (I did). But when I saw him today, the first words out of his mouth were an inquiry: was I still playing piano? I was, he reminded me, a “wonderful pianist.”

It surprised me. I have always loved my piano. I have always been passionate about music. But I have never thought of myself as “wonderful” or as a “pianist.” Even when I was young and taking lessons, I didn’t want to be taking lessons—I just wanted to play for the love of playing. There was something about the piano that resonated deep inside of my heart and whispered truths to me, like, “Jesus loves me,” and “Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh God, my Father.”  I thought I didn’t need the technical aspect as long as I had the passion.

And for what I wanted to do, it was enough! I learned to play chords. I could read a little bit of music, anyway. I watched other pianists and tried any new thing I could find. But not learning, not taking lessons in piano is still the one thing I really regret in my life thus far. There is so much more I want to accomplish in my life. It seems that the older I grow, the greater my dreams in regards to music. I don’t dream of performing anymore, or being the greatest; I dream of pursuing music, the theology of music, the healing of music. Those things would be so much easier if I’d learned piano when I was young.

And yet…piano is still my favorite hobby. There is nothing I love more than turning off the television, the computer, the cell phone, lighting a candle, and playing my piano. There is nothing that gives me greater joy (except, of course, spending time with my beautiful, talented, funny nieces and nephews!) than playing all alone, without audience, without expectation, without hindrance.

In fact, I think I need to go play. Right now!

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

I remember life before…

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I remember life before… (ie: computers)

I remember life before a lot of things—cell phones, CDs, Kindle, airbags. The world around us is constantly shifting, constantly evolving into something new, something easier, something hipper, something faster. I would gladly trade the modern conveniences of life if I could spend just a few more years, or even a few more days, or even a few more hours, back in my childhood. That is what I remember most—life before my grandparents died.

My Grandma Schmitzer’s house was huge. Or so it seemed to me! I remember so many random things about her home, like her colored paring knives and the AVON Bubble Bath she always had on hand.  She always had cookies in the freezer for us (as well as Dreamsicles), and she kept her cereal in plastic containers. I also bet that at least five of my siblings and I (maybe all seven of us) could accurately describe to you how she stored her toilet paper. I’m not sure why—but we thought it was something special. Maybe it was the simple fact of her being Grandma. Everything she did was special to us.

Grandma Schmitzer didn’t have a lot of money, it seemed. Somehow, though, she always managed to send us a $5 check and a card for our birthdays. If there was one thing we could count on as kids, it was Grandma’s birthday check! I wish now that I had saved one of the checks for my scrapbook. It was, I’m sure, a big sacrifice for her to send money.

As for my Grandma and Grandpa Moore, I don’t recall the old farm as the older kids might. I hope you’ll hear about it once or twice in your lifetime! I’ve heard tales of Ritz crackers and Tang. But I don’t remember any of it. I remember Grandpa’s Magic Spoon, and his red-white-and-blue suspenders, and his jokes with the waitress every time we went out to eat. And I remember Grandma’s angels (so many angels!), her fluffy towels, her journals (yes, I think she may be the one person in the world who had more journals than me), and her beautiful thick hair.

They always had those chocolate marshmallow cookies in the cupboard. And whenever they came to visit, they would stop at Orchard Market and bring us lots of fresh produce. Grandpa always brought cabbage so mom would make a roast with cabbage—he loved cabbage, but Grandma didn’t, so they never ate it at home.

Why do I tell you all of this?

It’s a treasure to know your grandparents. You are lucky—no, you are blessed—to have them! Life is changing around us day by day, but there is something very sacred about the unchangingness of grandparents. I remember life before they passed away. I hope each of you will take the time to know and really love your grandparents while they are still with us. I doubt you will find any greater memories in life than those spent with your grandparents.

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

My Memorial Day traditions include…

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Memorial Day traditions include…

My dear nieces and nephews;

I’m a little bit embarrassed. I don’t really have any Memorial Day traditions. Here in Upper Michigan, a lot of people spend the long weekend away at camp. I’m not sure I understand, but it is somehow restful to them. And others spend the long weekend cleaning their yards, planting their gardens. That’s a little more understandable, I think. Some just use the long weekend to take a break from the demands of everyday life. Memorial Day weekend is relaxation, outdoors, barbecue, lawn mowing, and bonfires.

Except that it’s not. Of course, it’s wonderful to have a family tradition. And it’s wonderful to rest. But Memorial Day is about far more than just having a long weekend.

I wish I could tell you that I always spend Memorial Day honoring our fallen heroes. The truth is, I am thirty years old, and this year was the first time I attended a Memorial Day Service at our local cemetery. It was a touching ceremony with an impressive turnout. My mind was buried with the thoughts of our family, our friends, our nation. Memorial Day is a day to honor the fallen, those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom. It is such a somber thought—that someone else would give his life to protect my freedom. Is it really so important? Is it really so precious?

It really is. It really, really is. There are people all around the world who would give anything for the freedom and opportunity we have.

I am disappointed in myself for not having gone in the past. I think it is safe to say that attending our local service will become my Memorial Day tradition. I hope you’ll check back with me next year. I hope, next year, I’ll have more to say.

 

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

My parents always say…

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My parents always say…

A few things my Mom has said more than a few times in my life:

  • I wish I were as disciplined about writing as you are (which is ironic, as I’m writing this prompt two days late).
  • We should make an apple pie.
  • You would have liked my dad.
  • I am Jesus’ little lamb.
  • Make sure you lift the stuffing from the bottom of the pan. If you just stir it, it will get all mashed up.
  • Many hands make light work.
  • What color socks should I make for…? (Yes. Take this as a hint. She doesn’t remember what colors she’s made for all of us, and I think it might help her if one or two of us gave her a color request.)
  • I am covered with feathers.
  • The trees are dancing!
  • I don’t need anymore snowmen.
  • When you laugh, it encourages him.
  • I love you.

There’s a handful for you! What about you? Are there certain things your mom and dad say? Are there things you remember hearing your grandparents or aunts and uncles say? Are there things you hope others remember hearing you say?

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

I am especially good at…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I am especially good at…

I’m not sure that I’m “especially” good at anything. I know that you all are—each one of you has unique strengths and gifts that no one else in this world possesses.

Now don’t get proud. It doesn’t make you “the best.” It doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard to accomplish other things. It doesn’t mean you can look down upon those who struggle to do what comes naturally to you. It just means that you have a combination of gifts that no one else has. It’s like having the secret recipe with all the flavors in Dr. Pepper. No one else has it. You are, each one, unique.

I think that’s what I’m especially good at—seeing the strengths of others, seeing their gifts, seeing their potential. I figure that God has given me this gift so I can encourage and edify others, but I confess—I’m not very good at that!

Yet. I’m not very good at that yet. It’s important to recognize our strengths not merely as a special talent we’ve been given, but as a challenge to grow and do something with it. Great skills are worthy of great challenges.

As you learn about your gifts, your strengths, your talents, it is my deepest prayer that you will never be satisfied with what comes easily to you. May you struggle against your own self, against society, and against the small boxes that tell you what your gifts must look like. May I struggle, also!

And if, for some reason, you are unsure of your strengths and talents, I hope you’ll ask someone—your mom, your dad, your aunts and uncles, your grandparents, your teachers, your friends, God. Find out those things you are good at, and learn how to become better at them!

That’s what I’m doing! Or…trying to!

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

My mom makes the best…

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mom makes the best…

My Mom makes the best of a lot of things—strawberry freezer jam, canned peaches, German potato salad, Swiss steak. But there is one thing my Mom makes that no one else can quite compare to: socks.

I’m not sure when this tradition began, but for many years now, Mom has been knitting a pair of socks for everyone in the family for Christmas. I honestly have lost count. The first pair that she made for me was in high school—they were made with a variegated brown yarn, and I loved them! I loved them so much, in fact, that I wore holes in the soles of each sock by the time I graduated! But at some point, she transitioned from just making them for the fun of it, to making them for us as part of our Christmas gift.

Now, come on—you’re thinking—any knitter can knit socks. Well, that’s true. Even I can knit socks! But no one can knit them like my Mom. She pain-stakingly unravels the yarn to line up the pattern just right. Her stitches are perfectly even, she doesn’t have holes in the sides when she adds the side heel stitches, and she sews the toe stitches together with such care that you can’t tell they aren’t knit!

No one makes socks like Momma. Sometimes she grows tired of making them, I think. Every year she asks me if I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get socks for Christmas. I always tell her the same thing—I love getting socks; I have enough of them; you don’t have to make me another pair. But secretly, my heart is saying, “Yes! Please don’t skip out on the socks this year, Momma!”

If you’re fortunate enough to have a pair (or a dozen) from her, I hope you realize what a treasure you have, and how much love and care she puts into making them for you. I also hope you’ll hold onto them and keep them in the family. Wouldn’t it be funny if—one hundred years from now—our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids were still wearing Grandma Heidi socks?

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

My best friend is…

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My best friend is…

I’m late in writing this week—I hope you’ll forgive me! On Sunday, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Dan, and while we drew superheroes and villains, we talked for a minute about this week’s topic: My best friend is…

Dan surprised me with an answer that was quite profound. He said that all of his friends were best friends. Each of his friends was special (or “best”) for a particular reason—one was the friend Dan plays at the park with; another was his friend from soccer; and Marco (sorry, Dan, I don’t remember what you said about Marco—except that you used to call him Mikey).

I don’t think I can give a better answer than Dan’s. I’ve never been the type of person to have a lot of friends. The friends I’ve had, I’ve been very close with. And not one of those friends could replace the others. Each one has a very unique place in my heart and life.

That’s the way it is with people. You can search throughout the world, and you’ll never find two people exactly the same. You’re the only you on this planet. And the person next to you is the only them on the planet, too. Each one of us has gifts and passions and personalities that cannot be replicated by another. That’s why it’s so important to accept others as they are—whether you would call someone a “best friend” or not, they are uniquely created to reflect some aspect of God’s character. They have something to offer that no one else in this whole world can offer. You have something to offer that no one else in the world can offer. That’s a very cool thought.

And I really can see God in my friends. I can see Him in each one of my nieces and nephews, too. I see Him in your music, and in your smile, and in your intelligence, and in your desire to succeed, and in your creativity, and in your kindness.  No…you cannot have too many best friends, just like you cannot have too many nieces and nephews. Each one is a gift.

All my love,

Aunt Sarah