Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

Real Gram

It’s snowing! I love the snow. Well, I more love watching the big fat fluffy flakes fall from the sky and the way things look after it snows. Isn’t it weird how much more peaceful things seem to be when the snow falls?

Another thing I love is when the sun hits the snow just right and it seems as if ice diamonds are dancing all over it. Absolutely stunning! God’s wonderous creations are a beauty to behold.

The very first time I was in awe of snow was after spending the night at my grandmother’s house. She lived out in the country amongst the Finger Lakes wineries. I didn’t go there very often and because I wasn’t a fan of sleeping over anywhere, this overnighter was somewhat special. This was my Mom’s, Mom.

We called her “Real Gram”. I can’t say why or where the name came from. It’s not like we had a fake Gram anywhere. When Real Gram came into town she brought all the latest trashy tabloids, dented food cans, boxed goods. In the fall bushels of McIntosh apples were added to the mix. It was always a treat when she came to town.

What I didn’t know growing up was how much she actually did for our family. She worked as a civilian at the Army Depot in Seneca, NY. I remember going there the night I spent the night. She put me in her office chair and rolled me around the office.

It was on the way to her office after spending the night that I saw the field that caught my breath. It looked like frosted ice. Everything was covered with a layer of snowy ice and the field looked like something out of a magazine. I could’ve looked at it for hours.

There’s not a lot I can tell you about her other than she was beautiful. She had blonde hair and blue eyes and she was married to an adulterer. We never called her husband the typical familial names associated to grandfather. Instead, we called him by his given name. He wasn’t a fan of kids. And really the only thing I remember about him is him sitting at the kitchen table, smoking and drinking. He never came to town with Real Gram.

He was not a fan of my Dad’s in any way shape or form and we all knew it. To be honest, we were all a bit afraid of the man we barely knew. Funny, how I can still picture him in my mind after only seeing him once.

I wasn’t close to Real Gram. I only knew her as the woman who gave my mom her credit cards to make sure we had decent clothes. I guess if you could sum her up in one word, it would be provider. I don’t get warm fuzzies when I think of her. Instead my heart swells with thankfulness and my eyes well up.

I was in the military when she passed away. I don’t remember crying. I remember my mom being angry that towards the end of her life Real Gram was giving just about everything she owned to the church she attended. This woman gave of herself her whole life in the only way she knew how, providing for others.

She led a modest lifestyle so she could give to others. That’s what I remember. But, she left a beautiful gift behind and my mother gave it to me.

It’s a King James Version, Jimmy Swaggart reference edition of the Holy Bible. Her pen marks and writings are throughout it. One day as I was leafing through it, I found a poem she had taped inside of the blank pages in the front.

I don’t know who authored the poem and I don’t know the title, but it reads:

“Lord, keep me sweet when I grow old.
And things of life seem hard to bear,
When I feel sad and all alone,
And people do not seem to care.
Oh, keep me sweet when time has
This body, which was once so strong,
To droop beneath its load of years,
And suffering and pain have come.
Help me to train my heart each day
That it will only sweetness hold.
And as the days and years roll on,
May I keep sweet as I grow old.
Please keep me sweet, and let me look
Beyond the threats that life must hold,
To see the glad eternal joys.
Yes, keep me sweet in growing old.”

That’s how I think of her. As a person who lived this poem out. I never heard her raise her voice. At least, not that I can remember. In the end, she lived alone. In the end, she died before her only child could say good-bye. In the end, I never got the chance to tell her how thankful I was for everything she did.

Funny how love can look just the opposite of what’s driven into our heads as to how it should look. In the end, Real Gram loved the best in the ways she provided for those she loved.

A new friend said the other day that when it comes to forgiving others, she says she forgives them for not being what she wanted.

What a beautiful world that would be if we could all look past what we’re not given, but instead, what we’re given and what we have. Love the action always speaks the loudest. How is it, we seem to always miss it because we’re so focused on what’s not being done.

Real Gram, I can’t begin to know all you went through on this side of Heaven, but I have no doubt you’re reaping the fruits of your labor in Heaven. Thank you for being you. It was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. But, God knew. I hope you all have a Real Gram in your life and if not, maybe you’re the Real Gram.

Love well my friends.

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Ditch Diving


After living in Alaska for 20 years, I can say that driving on the ice covered, snowy roads could be extremely treacherous.  The Dept of Transportation did their best to keep up with snow removal but sometimes I think the slick plowed roads were worse than the snowy covered roads prior to plowing.  Worse still, were the slick covered roads piled atop with fresh snow.  All in all, it was time to slow down, be diligent and listen to the road.

In Anchorage, AK, the traditional stay at home “snow days” were rare.  No matter the road conditions, eventually you had to venture out and you had to be mentally equipped. It took a lot of concentration not just on what you were doing, but also in what everyone around you was doing.  Most winter days the designated lanes on the roads just didn’t exist.  You took whatever path you could follow that was marked out by vehicles before you and trusted that nothing would knock you off course.  Don’t get me started on the people who drove like there was no snow on the road…those speed demons.  You know them, you’ve seen them, you might even be them.  Don’t be them!!

If you weren’t respectful and vigilant of the conditions, it sure didn’t take much for the snow to pull you into the ditch or for a slick area to spin your vehicle out of control where you held onto to the wheel for dear life praying your vehicle didn’t flip,  or end up in the ditch.  Worse yet, you might collide into oncoming traffic or the vehicles beside you.  Chances were, if you spun out of control, someone was going with you.  So on those really bad days driving my son to school, I would turn the radio off and I would tell my son that mommy needed to “listen to the road.”

That’s a lot like life with God.  You have to trust that what He tells us is for our safety; our protection.  His Word is our road to life and our bodies are the vehicle in which He gives us to drive.  He knows the dangers life throws at us every single second of each day.  His Word equips us to go out into the world, maneuver on the roads of life and keep our “tires” on the path He wants us to follow.  Not because He wants us to suffer from the thing we shouldn’t do, but because He knows that if we swerve off course even a little from His commandments, that eventually, we are going to get hurt.

The enemy will take any opportunity he can get to grab onto our “tires” and pull us into a ditch.  He doesn’t care that we go into the ditch, that’s exactly where he wants us. Better still if we wind up spinning out of control and taking someone else with us. That’s bonus points to him.  He’s throwing his hands in the area saying “score!!”   I don’t know about you, but finding myself in the ditch on more than one occasion is enough for me to know, the ditch is not where I want me or anyone else.  The consequences are costly and not worth the price I’ve had to pay.  Ahh…therein lies the beauty of all the ditch diving I’ve done.  God was waiting for me with open arms ready to forgive and put me back on course.  I had to do my part, repent, hand over the wheel, and “listen to the Road.”  Now He’s doing His part, clearing the path and showing me the way home, which He’s been doing all along, but I was too busy being one of those speed demons!!  Don’t be them!!

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