Thursday, June 6, 2013

Oh Happy Day!

We had my grandma’s funeral yesterday.  I cannot think of a more wonderful thing to celebrate than the day my beautiful, lovely, amazing grandma got to meet Jesus face-to-face!

At her funeral, there were many tears shed – just none by me.  I’m sure many of my cousins and aunts and uncles who questioned how I was doing thought I was in denial or something when they asked, and I replied with a great big smile and an enthusiastic, “Great!”

I wasn’t sad.  Not in the least.  Yes, I will miss her.  I will miss her so very much!  But I am happier for her than I could ever be sad for me.  There is no reason to cry.  In fact, even now, the tears that well up in my eyes are joyful tears.  I could not be more excited for her!

I saw her Friday afternoon.  I ran my fingers through her gorgeous, soft, white, naturally curly hair.  I kissed her cheek and told her how much she’s meant to me and how much I love her.  I thanked her for being the best grandma there ever was.  And I told her that I’d see her again soon. 

On Sunday morning, at 2:12 a.m., she breathed her last on this Earth while the song “Thank You for Giving to the Lord” played on her iPod, and she danced into Heaven’s Gates!  I have no doubt whatsoever that her Sunday morning worship of her Savior was the most wonderful, most incredible, most indescribable moment she’s ever known.  In fact, I’m sure she’s still singing, as it’s one of the things she loves to do best.

Gram was 88 1/2 years old.  She accepted Jesus as Lord of her life when she was 8.  She served Him for 80 years!!  And she wasn’t just a nominal Christian – you know, one of those people who pray the prayer as fire insurance, hoping they’ll escape Hell simply by saying the words.  She loved Jesus with all of her heart and strived to honor Him with everything she said and everything she did – every day for 80 years!

Grandma was always so generous.  She had a servant’s heart and spent her life taking care of those she loved.  Everyone was welcome in her home, and she made them all feel like royalty and like family at the same time.  In one of my Bible school classes, one of my teachers made a statement that I’ve never forgotten.  He said, “If we are to be like Jesus, we have to love what Jesus loves.  And Jesus loves people.”  I can honestly say that about my grandma.  She loved people!  Her generosity went beyond the doors of her home and beyond the doors of her church.  She gave to missionaries and ministries all over the world.  It was her heart’s desire to see people come to know the Lord, to see their lives changed.

She loved everyone, but her family was special.  She was my grandma,and I got the best of her!  When I needed her, she dropped everything and was by my side, taking care of me, loving me, praying for me.  I am so blessed and so honored to have been her granddaughter.

When we were kids, she spent hours sitting on the floor with us, playing with our toys or playing games.  She made something each of us liked to eat for each family dinner.  She watched our favorite TV shows with us, which were “CHiPs” and “Emergency”.  For lunch, she fixed peanut butter sandwiches with crunchy Jiff peanut butter on frozen wheat bread - three different ways because each of us liked something different.  On Fridays, which were Grandpa’s days off, we went to Honor Heights Park and fed the ducks.  We usually packed a picnic lunch, but sometimes we stopped at Chet’s and picked up hot dogs, Cheetos and root beer freezes.  Grandpa and Grandma took us to the rodeo every year, and Grandma always packed snacks, including a thermos of coffee for the adults and a thermos of hot chocolate for the kids and plenty of cookies for all of us.  She always carried mints.  Her favorites were the chocolate mints.  And she always had hand-embroidered hankies.  She loved to fix treats for the holidays.  She always made chocolate-covered pretzels, both chocolate and white chocolate.  She always made “floor sweep” too.  (This is more commonly known as Chex mix, but she called it “floor sweep” because it looked like the pile of stuff she had when she finished sweeping up in the kitchen.)  She loved jewelry, especially “ear bobs,” though she never pierced her ears.  When she got frustrated, she would exclaim, “Well, fiddle-dee-dee!”  She loved to sing, and she had the most beautiful soprano voice filled with vibrato.  When she sang, she sang with every ounce of her being.  She laughed easily and loved greatly.  Gram was truly amazing!

Gram loved to teach.  She taught Sunday school at church, and she taught it at home too.  She was always talking to us about the Bible and teaching us how to make it real for us in our everyday lives.

Gram was always dressed well.  She got up every morning and got dressed, put on makeup and jewelry and did her hair, even if her only plans for the day were cleaning her house and doing laundry.  She said that she always wanted to look her best because she was a representative of our Savior.  God gave His best, and she was always going to give hers.  She wanted to do her very best at everything every day to thank Him for all that He had done for her.

She was amazing!  She kept the cleanest house.  She even ironed sheets and underwear.  Everything was clean and perfect!

She was THE BEST cook and baker around.  I grew up living in a house just two doors down from Grandpa and Grandma.  Every time that Grandma made pies, she made extra pie crust so that she could use the scraps to make cinnamon rolls for me and my brothers.  She would always call my mom and ask her to send us over for our special treat!  There is seriously nothing better than Grandma’s cinnamon rolls!  She also made cakes and pies and cobblers and cookies and cupcakes and brownies.  She made so many different varieties, and all of her family and friends had their favorites.  She baked for birthdays, for events at church, in celebration of new babies and weddings, for memorial services of those who went to meet Jesus.  She was always baking, and her house always smelled wonderful!

Grandma was an excellent cook as well.  Her fried okra was second to none!  Her meatloaf and stuffed peppers were wonderful!  Her chicken and dumplings were delish!  And her cornbread was simply magnificent!  My mouth is watering just thinking of her huge table, topped with a lace tablecloth, covered with dishes containing her delectable culinary offerings.  She always made more than enough.  Everyone was welcome at her table, and she loved hosting!  She certainly fit the bill of “the hostess with the mostest.”

She was an amazing seamstress.  She made most of her own clothes, and she was always dressed to the nines.  She made all of the costumes for my school plays and for my brothers’.  I still have the pilgrim costume she made for my second-grade Thanksgiving play.  And I have my pink poodle skirt that she made for me just for fun.  She loved to sew.  She also loved to crochet.  There is nothing snugglier than curling up under one of the afghans Gram made.

She was full of wisdom and strength.  She prayed with me and for me all of my life.  She was always ready to listen without judgment and offered wisdom and guidance whenever I needed and wanted it.

She was so kind.  She often called me just because she wanted to hear “my sweet little voice.”  I loved getting her phone calls and talking to her about everything.  I could tell her the good, the bad and the ugly.  She always knew when to laugh with me, when to cry with me, when to give me advice.  And she always prayed for me.

She and Aunt Vi prayed my husband in!  I think he must have been on the top of their prayer list for a few years; and when we met him, she fell in love with him too.  She prayed my babies in.  Even when the doctors said I couldn’t have babies, Grandma knew that God promises us families.  And she prayed for my family.  What an amazing family I have - and they are all answers to my Grandma’s prayers!!IMG_4507

No matter how far I’ve traveled or how far I’ve moved away, Grandma was always there with open arms when I returned.  Every time she opened her door to let me in, she always said, “Hi Hon!  Come on in!”  And she would greet me with a wonderful hug that had just the right amount of squeeze to let me know that I was loved and special and missed.  Hugs that said, “Welcome home!”  Then she would immediately offer me something to drink and something to eat and insist that I sit and tell her everything I’d been up to.  We used to sit and chat and laugh and act silly – just like two best girlfriends.  And I know that no matter how long it may be before I see her again, I know that one day I will see her again, standing at the Gates of Heaven, waiting for me, and she will say, “Hi Hon!  Come on in!,” and she’ll wrap me in one of her hugs with just the right amount of squeeze to tell me that I am loved and special, that I was missed and that I am Home.

We played the song “Thank You for Giving to the Lord” at Grandma’s funeral yesterday.  The chorus of the song says,

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed!
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

Grandma changed my life.  So many times I have heard her voice in my head offering words of wisdom when I needed them most.  She helped mold me and shape me.  She encouraged me and cautioned me.  She taught me and guided me.  And I know I wasn’t the only one she changed.  She gave so much to so many.

She was a living example of a Proverbs 31 woman:

A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!  (Proverbs 31:10-31, The Message)

Grandma ran her race and finished her course with joy!  When Gram danced through Heaven’s Gates early Sunday morning, I know that she was greeted with loving embraces from her husband and parents and brother and other family and friends who had gone before, and they rejoiced with her as she heard “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Great is your reward!”

Oh happy, happy, happy day!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

We Have An Announcement!

For those of you who might not have yet heard, we Nortons are moving to Minne-SOH-ta!  The movers are coming June 27th to pack up our house and move it all to Minneapolis.  We will be in our new house  on July 1st or shortly thereafter.  (We’re leasing and not buying until we become more familiar with the area.)032

As with our other moves, this is a relocation for Steve’s job.  Steve always has a lot of favor with his bosses, and they keep promoting him.  This time they want to make sure to keep him, so they’ve offered to move our family so that we can all be together again.  Steve will have a job in management until his seniority number comes up at Delta Airlines, and then he will have the opportunity to work as a pilot for Delta.  Steve is very excited, and so are we!  We cannot wait!  It will be so nice to see each other everyday again!  A year of seeing Steve only on weekends has been rough.  This will be a very welcome reprieve for us!  It’s also nice to know what the future holds for us and that we have a plan.

Minneapolis has a lot of things to do, including Mall of America, Waterpark of America, skiing, a great zoo, an amazing aquarium, museums, the Minnesota Twins, outlet malls, lakes, hiking, biking, etc.  Our new house has plenty of room for company, so let us know when you’d like to visit.

Minnesota, here we come!!