Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How I avoid the g-word and other profanities

50 is by no means too young to be a g-ma. It's just the word that bothers me. It reeks of that nursing home smell and conjures pictures of shriveled, droopy-jowled faces, crocheted shawls and rocking chairs with tatted doilies on them. I prefer not to say the g-word.

But, while I refuse to call myself by the name, I am not stupid enough to refuse its benefits.

The excuse to shop is one of them. As is the need for travel.

I now check 2 bags when visiting the g-children. One for my things and one chock full of wrapped toys: Disney character toys, size 3-months ruffled jean skirts and polka dot leggings with matching   peter pan tops, Golden books from the thrift shop, newly printed photos, 90% finished baby quilts, and various and sundry items for the mom, my daughter.

There is a down side to g-mothering. I often wake in the wee hours and worry like a crazy woman about my 5 kids. Now I have my g-kids to add to the mix.

To offset the age stigma I still wear the peach colored v-neck fitted t-shirt embroidered with "World's Sexiest G-ma" that my daughter gave me to announce the arrival of the 1st grandchild. It's pretty stretched out by now, but offers comfort and a big self-esteem boost.

But my name is Bella. 

The name was suggested by my daughter. I loved it because it was also the name of my privileged mother's nurse maid. It was short for Isabel and there were too many Isabel's in her family already. Bella raised my mom in a big house, while her mother and grandmother (oops, I said it and will say it for other people) chain-smoked their morning cigarettes over black coffee. They spent half a day lounging on those overstuffed, one-armed chaises my great-grandfather dubbed "wench benches,"  while Bella bathed, fed and entertained my mother and her brothers.

A short survey revealed that there are others out there like me who adamantly shun the g-word as well. They go by:

Pop E
Cee Cee

It's affirming that I am not alone in avoiding the g-word, a by-word to many.

Though I am a g-ma 5 times over,  I go by Bella. My less vain husband has no problem being called 'grandpa.' I Shudder!!

A second profane word I refuse to say is what I call 'the other f-word'. And I do apologize if it makes you think of that obscenity that the Federal Communications Commission just lifted the ban on for the air waves. You'll be hearing a lot more of it on TV whether you like it or not.

Big mistake and another huge dive in the culture's downward spiral  that has completely lost their sense of decency and annihilated any shred of politeness that may have previously existed. What's become of our sensibilities and simple manners?

When asked my age, I simply cannot say the other f-word.  My lips trip and spudder as they try to form that fizzy consonant. My brow sweats, cheeks flush and facial muscles contort. The number following forty-nine is practically unpronounceable.

When the fifth decade rolled around, the same year I became the g-word, (double whammy), I adopted the age terminology the ever clever Anne Lomott coined as the year forty-ten. What a genius that author is! 

The next birthday I called myself forty-eleven.  And so on. It's the perfect verbal weapon for those waging war on middle age. 

When both bad words, the g-word and the other f-word approached me the same year, I had to do something! And I found a way of not saying either.

My name is Bella to my g-children and I am fortyfive-eleven.

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Baby Girl Had a Baby Girl

It's a strange thing, you know, when your baby girl has a baby girl.

Flashback 31 years to our early days of married life.

We lived in a 400 square foot abode on the Balboa peninsula  in Newport Beach, California when our baby girl, April arrived to a blue and white wallpapered nursery. Ultrasounds informed us we were having a girl, but decorating with more than two colors would have overwhelmed the tiny apartment. Thus a blue room for our girl. (Which perhaps was predictive of the 4 boys that followed?)

  The wall paper was both decorative and functional. And thank goodness it was in vogue then because it covered the many flaws of peeling plaster 50 yrs of damp salty air inflicted on that 1920's triplex. A mini flowered pattern of blue and yellow covered the living room walls with white Priscilla curtains on its 2 vertical sashed windows providing little privacy from the public sidewalk just outside its panes. I endured the sight of passing strangers for the sake of sunlight.

Weekends sent a trail of beach goers by our windows as they headed out to play in the sand and surf, 100 feet from our front door.

Despite the dream beach location, the place had its problems, such as a broken window sash cable that was propped up by a wood scrap. An antiquated electrical system that  blew a circuit if the blow dryer and the iron were run at the same time. A broken heater. A leaky ceiling in the kitchen that no roofer could seem to fix. Rent at $165 a month kept our complaints to a minimum. Wouldn't you have?

But it was home to us newlyweds and the little girl soon to come.

She came quietly in that Tustin hospital. Didn't make a peep till the nurse placed her warm skin on the icy stainless scale. From cozy womb to steely world. Then she let out a wail that did her virgin lungs good. Tawny skinned and wide-eyed, we welcomed

April Marbury Shaw

We were married for 5 years before we had her. As a funny card said, "A new baby is the realization that you were getting entirely too much sleep."

Following April, we bore four sons. And suffered broken sleep for many years to come.

My Four Sons: Jesse, Brandon, Elliot and Carlin

And then April married and started a family, only to have two more active sons.

Dad, Neal getting his ear chainsawed off by son Walker with Carter standing by.

Finally April became pregnant with her first baby girl.

So it's been a long time waiting for pink. Although pink is not in style for baby girls these days. Unless it's hot pink.  Nor are girl names for girls. Nowadays baby-chicks are named Quinn, Rikki, Finley, Spencer, Chase, Lyken, Skylar and Sydney. I thought for certain when my son-in-law and daughter arrived at Charlotte for a name, she would be called Charlie, which I think is kind of cute.

Charlotte Marbury McCullohs and mom, April Marbury McCullohs
But so far it fits the very petite 7 pound Charlotte whose precious face exudes all the femininity and softness the name conjures up.

As you can see there is no pink in the room. Not light pink, rose, mauve or ballet pink. Aqua walls are set behind bright yellow large florals and coral chevron patterns.

When I happily took the job to sew the crib bedding because nothing in the store was satisfactory to mom, I learned that crib bumpers are frowned upon due to safety hazards.

"What?" My good friend exclaimed. "So the baby just hits her head on the crib slats?"

I answered that new studies show that
suffocation caused by the bumper is more
probable than head bruising.

After having 5 babies who slept in cribs fitted with the cushioned sides,

I did not buy that anti-bumper propaganda.

But I agreed quietly, secretly resisting the temptation to cut out the bumper pattern and sew it up in the middle of the night... accidentally.

A bumper balances out the nursery dressing so nicely!

But this one will have to do without.


My husband believes it was a divine plan, rather than a coincidence that Charlotte was born October 3rd, 2013, the day that Chuck Smith, our beloved pastor died.

And also that they share names: Charlotte being the feminine form of Charles. Names that have meanings like church and warrior. I pray she will have the depth of faith he did and grow the Kingdom well in her own Charlotte sort of way.

Finally, we got another girl after 31 years.

My baby girl had a baby girl!

And we are tickled pink!

Goodbye Papa Chuck

Chuck with his One Way - Jesus gesture

It was 1974 and I was not exactly following Jesus. I had in fact spent most of my high school days running away from all that I had known to be good.

But my parents started attending this hippie church forty-five minutes from our home. "Everyone is so full of love there," my father gushed. And he was not the gushing type.  We attended every Saturday night and Sunday. Scruffy young people and distinguished grown-ups sang arm-in-arm together.

My dad would drive a car full of my teenage friends to the Saturday night concerts where we heard  Jesus bands like Love Song, Children of the Day, Parable, Joy  and Mustard Seed Faith. Artists, like Bob Carlyle, Keith Green,  Malcom and Alwin, Richie Furay.

Then, there were the tent days. After the little chapel had grown too small for the crowds, a temporary tent was erected until the larger sanctuary was built. My husband, Tim attended and lived just behind this little country church immortalized by Love Song.

Sometimes my husband (whom I'd yet to meet) used to sleep over in the tent during Santa Ana wind conditions to make sure the thing didn't blow over. 

I surrendered my heart to Jesus after a personal crisis. The solid Bible teaching of Chuck Smith taught my newborn legs to walk with Him and set my course straight. I was later baptized in Pirate's Cove, Corona del Mar along with hundreds like myself.

Tonight, we attended a memorial for Chuck that was streamed from the Anaheim Pond. Four full hours of speakers, bands, video clips and memories dedicated to a man who grew the kingdom of God worldwide and whose beaming smile and bear hugs nurtured the hearts of millions.

A military official spoke, showing the faith movement's support of our troops and the Israeli consulate presented eloquently. Chuck was an ardent advocate of Israel and had visited the country 60 times.

One speaker quoted Paul from I Corinthians 4:15.

"For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel." In this Internet age, we have many teachers, but not many fathers in the faith.

Chuck was a father to so many. The kind of dad that makes you feel safe, valued and uniquely loved.

That was Papa Chuck.

Papa to four biological children, sixteen grandchildren and thirty-three great-grandchildren and thousands of spiritual children,.

His daughter, Sheryl, spoke of how Chuck never lost the thrill of life, nature, new grandchildren, a soul saved, a good musician, competition sports, vintage cars, a parking lot full of church-goers, another believer baptized. He was exuberant to the end. 

Chuck's church building strategy was very anti-establishment and countered church planting trends of the day.  Tom Stype, one of the early pastors and musicians summed up Chuck Smith's hippie-welcoming ministry best:

"Pastor Chuck let sinners and rejects into the House of God.
And here we all are."

It's unbelievable that at 86, weakened from battling lung cancer, Chuck preached from a stool four days before his earthly departure on October 3rd of this year.

My favorite message from the memorial was given by Florida's own,  Bob Coy,  pastor of Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale. He held up a cassette tape and told how this was the medium which he heard Chuck teach from as he grew and founded his church in the late 80's, 3000 miles away from the mother church in Costa Mesa, California.

Bob spoke of how Chuck was a sloooowww talker. From time to time on the tape, he would make pauses. Long ones so that you would think the tape was over; that he was done teaching. Then after a lengthy space of silence,  Chuck would continue with a, "Now..." and teach on. "Now"? Bob exclaimed. "I thought you were done!!!" But Chuck had just paused.

In that same way, we see that with his death, Chuck is silent, but not done.

He has just paused...

"God has just pushed the pause button on what we know of Chuck. And we will hear him speak again."

Well-said, Pastor Bob.

The memorial reached down deep in my heart and revived the foundations of my faith that were laid over 3 decades ago. So grateful for all that God has done through the years and expectant for the journey ahead.

It was healing to see personal friends I had played worship with: John Wickham, Lisa Wickham. Friends like Donny Kobayashi. My husband knew so many more than I.  Tom Stype, Mike MacIntosh, Don McClure, Bill Batstone, Freddie Fields (he looks good, Tim said), Tommy Coombs, Chuck Butler, Johnny Mehler. So many musicians and pastors who had been inspired and touched by Chuck.

But with all the looking back, all the reminiscing, the evening ended with a look forward.

In closing, Evan Wickham sang a beautiful song. His brother Phil Wickham played the final piece with the finesse and artistry of a well-seasoned musician. Tim said he could see his father, John's mastery of the guitar and hear his mother Lisa's strong and versatile voice embodied in Phil.

Sing on Phil and Evan! Be vehicles of the next revival for this generation, following  Chuck's example. A revival greater than the Jesus Movement we all were blessed to experience. One such that we have never seen.

And, goodbye, Papa Chuck.

You left a legacy broad and swathing as your 10,000 watt smile.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When You Grow Up - A song for my daughter

The setting sun sent a gentle glow through our tiny beach apartment's windows.

I was a first-time mom. While cooking dinner, I began to ponder my newborn daughter's future. Safely napping in her crib, still I feared for her. The uncertainty of life and it's dangers seemed so inescapable. I'd do anything to prevent her from making the same mistakes I had made. Was there a way to shelter her from life's hazards that lay before her; this tiny newborn, so unaware and vulnerable?

But there was also great hope that she might avoid the foolishness many fall into. She had a clean slate and the potential to do things right, to make good choices.

Bouncing back and forth between the stove and the piano, a tune and lyrics started to materialize. By the time dinner was done, a song had emerged. You can take a listen here....

What are you going to do when you grow up
April Marbury?
What will life bring when you're adult?
What will you be?
I took a long time to come around
Wasted a lot of years being down
Followed all the dead-end roads I could find
But Jesus was the one who could change my mind

I see your life stretch out into the years
Displaying all you are
I can see all the unshed tears
And potential scars
Please don't take a long time to come around
Don't waste your years being down
Follow the road that never ends
And Jesus is the one who will be your Friend

The world will try to offer you the good life
at best it's only heartache in disguise
One day you will awaken to the choices
Purpose in your hear to be wise

After your hopes and dreams have come of age
And you're standing at that Day
When you've penned this earthly life's last page
I hope you hear Him say:
"I've waited a long time to take you home
Happy to have you here as My own
You've run very well on that narrow road"
Yes, Jesus is the One who'll be your reward.

April Marbury McCullohs

31 years later I see much of what I'd written for her has come true. She's followed Jesus hard since a little girl. She is a writer, blogger, , a songstress,  a speaker and a great wife and mother.

Though she has not been spared all the hurt I'd hoped against.

This broken world still finds our blind side.

But she is so blessed as a result of loving Him.

Tonight, April Marbury had a baby girl of her own: 

Charlotte Marbury.

As her newborn sleeps near her, I wonder if she's thinking the same thing....


I am  joining Emily Freeman's link-up for making art. My art is the song in the link above in my blog.

I am honored to be a part.

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