Mami and Papi – Father and I

When Laura and Gabriel are at school, Father and Mr. Blasi are busy with the vineyard business, Mrs. Blasi is fussing with baby Leo, he’s teething and has been so cranky! I go and talk with Papi and Mami.
They may be Laura and Gabriel’s grandparents, but they insist that since Father and I are such good friends of the family I should call them Mami and Papi too.
They say they are my Swiss grandparents. 

Mami says she likes to keep herself busy by helping around the house. Usually this means, walking around the house, straightening things, sweeping floors, dusting things with her hankie, and carrying food on trays to Papi in his bed. Sometimes she is very wobbly, and I carry the tray for her. Whenever I go into Papi’s room, he asks me to fluff his pillows, sit with him a little while, and read to him. Mami usually feeds him while I read. Mami assures me that Papi knows me, but he never remembers my name.

Papi always has me read the same book to him, Huckleberry Finn. He says it’s his favorite English book. I never finish it, but he doesn’t remember me reading it to him before, so I just end up reading the same part to him over and over again. Papi always falls asleep after he eats, while I’m still reading to him.
Mami says Papi is forgetting because he is old, but she is just as old as he is and she can remember lots of things! I think there may be something wrong with Papi. It makes me sad because he’s still so sweet and kind.

Yesterday, Papi was not his normal self. He was very grumpy and it took him a long time to fall asleep. He kept wanting his pillows fluffed, and he would keep mumbling things in German and Italian. Mami just smiled at him and did whatever he wanted so he would be most comfortable. I actually got through four chapters that day. Just as he was falling asleep, though, he looked over at Mami and asked, “Who are you?”
She cried. 

I left. I didn’t know what to do, I still don’t. Father says sometimes these things happen to old people, they forget. Even the people they love most.

When I was getting ready for bed on yesterday, Mami knocked on the door of the room Laura and I are sharing. She came in and sat on my bed for a while. She said she wanted to explain why Papi’s questioned made her cry (she is a pretty serious woman, so seeing her cry was really weird). 


Mami told me their story:
“Who are you?” was the first thing Papi ever said to her.

Mami is from Italy, but she moved to Switzerland to get away from the bad things (she didn’t tell me what they were, just that there were bad things happening in Italy back then). She had just started working at a bakery in town and one day Papi came in. It’s a small town, so it was easy to see she was a new worker. Mami said Papi was trying to be flirty (I had to ask what that meant), but she said “I wouldn’t have any of it, I was working after all”. But when she got off work that first day, he was waiting for her. He waited for her after work everyday for three months before she finally agreed to go on a date with him.
I guess Mami was serious even back in those days. 

Papi wanted to impress her, but his father only owned a small farm so he didn’t have much money. Their first date was a picnic! Mami said she was shocked that this is what she had waited three months for, but Papi made her laugh so much that by the end of the picnic she didn’t really care. Mami says on that very first picnic date, Papi told her that he would marry her someday. She didn’t believe him.
“Things just don’t work out the way you plan sometimes,” she told me.

Papi was determined as a young man. A year later they were married. 

Mami said they didn’t have a lot of money at first. She was still working at the bakery, though now she was actually helping to bake the breads, and not just sell them. Papi was working on his father’s farm, but the farm wasn’t doing well. It was Papi’s idea to turn the farm into a vineyard, because Mami had told him all about the vineyard she had grown up on in Italy, and Papi was inspired.

Mami said that she had laughed at this as a silly idea! But Papi convinced her, and they started the vineyard.
It was so much harder than they thought, they almost went bankrupt (I think that means they almost lost everything and were homeless).
Finally, everything started working out, and by that time they three kids, Mr. Blasi’s three older siblings.
Mami said that Papi had a way of always making sure things worked out alright, even if it wasn’t always in the way they had originally planned. He would make it work. This made her smile when she said it.

Papi built more rooms for their house, it used to only have two bedrooms, now it has five. Mami said it took him ten years to make the house what it is now (and it’s beautiful now)!
Mami put in the gardens in the front yard, all the flowers and bushes; and in the backyard, all the veggies and herbs. When Papi finally finished the house, Mami found out she was pregnant one last time, with Mr. Blasi! He is ten years younger than his closest sibling (a sister, but I don’t know her name).
Mami patted my knee and said, “I am so happy to have children in her house again.”

Then, Mami showed me her wedding ring. Her hands hurt her now, so she doesn’t wear it on her finger, but on a necklace. It doesn’t have a diamond on it. It’s just a gold band. She says that’s all Papi could afford back in those days, but for their 35th wedding anniversary, Papi took it to a jeweler to have it engraved on the inside with the words “My Forever Love” in Italian (I can’t read it, but Mami told me what it says).
She laughs when she sees it because Papi’s Italian was never very good and one of the words is spelled incorrectly. He also had the outside of the ring etched, which is like engraving, I think. It kind of looks the same as the engraved things I saw in Venice. The outside of the ring has hearts for each one of her children, and in the middle are two hearts that are connected, for she and Papi.
It really is beautiful, and I told her I love it.

She kissed me goodnight and left singing a song in German, swaying back and forth. 


I’ve seen Mother’s wedding ring, Father has it saved for me, it is engraved too, but I don’t know what it says. I don’t ask to see it because it makes him sad, but one day Father says it will be mine to save, and then I will read it. For now, I wait.

I dreamed about Mami and Papi being young again, smiling at each other, with all their kids in their home, dancing to that song Mami sang as she left my room.
I dreamed about golden rings on young hands, and old hands.
About tears and laughter.
About weddings, and baby cradles, and old Papi in his bed with his worn, red quilt. 
I dreamed about Mother.
About her smile.
About Father laughing with her.
About Mother singing.
About her laying in her bed, with her light purple quilt.
About the machines buzzing around her bed.
About Father crying.

I woke up from my dream this morning, before the sun. I was crying. I didn’t want to wake up Laura, since we are sharing a room, so I went downstairs with my journal to the couch in the living room.
I’ve been writing for a while now.
Mr. and Mrs. Blasi is here now. I think they know I was upset. Mr. Blasi is going to carry me out to the field with some blankets, and we are going to watch the sunrise, while Mrs. Blasi gets some breakfast going.

I love my Swiss family.

Finding a Peace-filled Schedule

Spoiler alert: I haven’t found it.

Schedules and routine are glorious things.
When I was a new mom, I followed a sleep training schedule just to keep me sane (postpartum emotions are no joke). Second baby came 15 months after the first, and getting my babies to sleep at the same time was my end-all-be-all goal.
Now, with three children ages 4.5 years, 3 years, and 16 months, schedules have been an vital part of our home for just about 5 years!

Schedules = sanity

Or do they?

For all of my motherhood, I have searched for peace and security in schedules. Yet, I still battle with anxiety (the kind where you just sit alone and cry for no reason, or can’t find it in you to get off the couch or even out of bed).

Why?

There is only one place where we can find peace, security, sanity, purpose, and all the other things we really are looking for in our ideal schedule.
That place, is actually a person, it’s Jesus.

Jesus is the source of lasting peace.
Jesus is the anchor for our fluctuating emotions and circumstances.
Jesus is the only cause for life-long and minute-by-minute purpose.

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

Schedules are good and often very helpful, they are fantastic guidelines, and give us (and our kids) things to look forward to. However, helpful tools were never meant to calm our souls, give us disaster-proof security, or motivate us with an all encompassing purpose that would fill every moment of our days and last our entire lives. Nothing on this earth can do that, only God can.

The book of Romans has a lot to say about peace, where it comes from, and where it does not come from. Let’s take a look at a few verses:

“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”

Romans 3:13-17

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 5:1

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:6-8

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Romans 15:33

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace  of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Romans 16:20

True, lasting, unwavering peace comes when our trust is in Jesus alone. Why? Because unlike every other thing in the universe, including ourselves, he is unchanging. Peace founded in Jesus Christ because no matter what we go through no matter our circumstances, our emotions, our relationships, our mistakes, our health, any of it, he remains steadfast. He is our peace.

No matter what faces you today, tomorrow, ten years from now! God remains faithfully the same. We can rest secure in that.

Soli Deo Gloria!

At the Vineyard – Father and I

We are at the Blasi family vineyard! We have been here now for two weeks. It’s been all very exciting and busy, so I haven’t had time to write until now because… but I’ll get to that in a minute.

When we first got here, I got to see Laura, Gabriel, baby Leo, Mrs. Blasi, Mr. Blasi, and Mami, but I didn’t get to see Papi for another whole day. I was sad, but Mami told me that Papi has to take things slowly, and to be patient. Finally, Mami took me into Papi’s room, and I understood what she was talking about. He has gotten so old and little. He sits crumpled up in his bed, like he’s shrunk into a wrinkled little boy. I don’t know if he is sick, or just old. I asked Father why Mr. Blasi didn’t just move Mami and Papi to Italy and he said it was because Mr. Blasi’s father can’t get out of bed anymore, so they came to him.

I asked Mrs. Blasi how it has been moving all the way over here. She said it has been “an adventure”. That’s probably an understatement (I just learned this word. I like it. It’s a great word.) Now they have a new house, new family to take care of, and a vineyard to take care of too! It’s quite a bit more than “an adventure”, I think.

I heard Mr. Blasi tell Father that it is good that his brother also gave them a good amount of money to run the vineyard, I don’t really understand that. A vineyard is where grapes grow, and grapes are plants. Plants don’t need money to grow. They need water, sun, and good soil.I have been learning a lot about plants while we’ve been here. Father says it’s a very hands on way of learning about the science of plants, or botany. It’s a huge vineyard, so there is a lot to learn

I’ve been playing with Gabriel and Laura a lot, but mostly on the weekends because they have “real” school. They call my kind of school “home” school. I think that’s a silly name for it, I’m never home when I do “home” school. I’m usually on a train, or an airplane, or in a car.


Last Friday, when Laura and Gabriel got home from school, they took me on their bikes to see the old church, Father and Mr. Blasi came too. I rode on Gabriel’s handlebars, he was being nice. I had seen it before, but not up close yet. You can see it from their house if you stand in the front yard or look out from one of the upstairs windows on that side of the house. Father took lots of pictures when we got there. It was very pretty in the sunset. Gabriel said the church is not the only thing that looks pretty in the sunset, which made my cheeks get really hot, and made Laura make a barfing noise.

I liked riding on Gabriel’s handle bars, no matter what Laura says or the noises she makes. 

We haven’t been able to ride at all now because it has gotten very wet and cold. It’s getting colder everyday I think, and it should have started snowing at least three nights ago, but instead all we get is frigid rain (I ran out of words for cold, so Father taught me this new one. It’s a good one). 

Today, for example, is Saturday, and Laura, Gabriel, and I should all be outside playing around and exploring, but it is too wet and cold to leave the warm and cozy house. 

So, instead we are playing inside things. Laura is playing with some paper dolls I brought for her. Gabriel is attempting to play scales on his guitar (Mr. Blasi is teaching him to play). I am writing.

Disclaimer:
Photograph is not mine. It is beautiful and fits with the story well.
Photograph credit:
http://www.studentshow.com/gallery/60216757/Swiss-Church-Study

Over the Mountains – Father and I

I’m so excited!
We are going to the Blasi’s vineyard, farther into Switzerland. I love the Blasi family. Father has known the Blasi family for a long time, even before I was born. My Mother and Mrs. Blasi were friends in college, before Mother and Father met. Our families have been close for a long time. I’m so excited! We are going to spend a few months with them.

I’ve never been to their vineyard, or any vineyard. Father says it is beautiful, but we aren’t actually for any of Father’s work. Mr. Blasi asked Father to come and help him at the vineyard. Apparently, it’s a family business, but Mr. Blasi’s brother and father had been taking care of it on their own. Mr. and Mrs. Blasi have just moved back to the Swiss vineyard from Italy, because Mr. Blasi’s brother died last year, and his parents are too old to handle the vineyard alone. It’s very sad. That part, I am not excited about. Mr. Blasi’s parents are like my grandparents. I call them Mami and Papi, and I love them very much.

I’m mostly excited to spend time with Mami and Papi, and with the Blasi children, Gabriel, Laura, and Leo, especially Laura. She’s 8, just 6 months younger than me. She’s like a cousin. I’m so excited to play with her!

I love traveling with Father, but sometimes I want to around someone else, someone my age, or close to my age. I’m with grown ups a lot. They’re usually very nice to me, some even play with me, but they aren’t kids. Sometimes I wish I had a sister, like Laura. Or a brother, like Gabriel, though he’s 12 and sometimes he’s annoying.

The train is going through the mountains now. It’s magnificent. Father says that word may not mean what I want it to mean in talking about the mountains, but I’m pretty sure it does.
Magnificent means: “impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.”
The Swiss alps are magnificent.

(Father printed this picture out for me once we got to the Blasi’s home, so I could paste it in my journal)

Disclaimer:
The above photo was obtained from this website: (it is not mine, and is in no way property of Gracious Purpose Blog, credit goes entirely to the following site and their gifted photographer)

https://www.muchbetteradventures.com/magazine/10-of-the-best-adventures-in-the-swiss-alps/

Pandemic, Manna, Contentment, Anger, and the Idol of Me

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Exodus 16:1-3 (emphasis added)

This was my Bible reading this morning, and it got me thinking….

Two months after the miraculous ten plagues, Passover, and crossing through the middle of the Red Sea on dry land, the entire congregation of Israel is grumbling.
This is more than the casual complaining, “just saying”, or venting type attitude we excuse ourselves of now. Or was it?
They were a good two month walk from the greatest civilization at the time, the only place they had ever known, and were now on a never ending camping trip in the middle of the wilderness. Oh, and they had run out of food. The people had some legitimate concerns! Food is important! Being in the middle of nowhere lacking food is deadly!

So what’s the problem?
Instead of seeking God’s guidance, instead of calling out to him for help (he clearly had the power and willingness to help them out), they looked to their own knowledge, their own understanding, and their own situation as being ultimate.
They had grown discontent. Following a miraculous pillar of cloud by day, and warming, light giving pillar of fire was not good enough.
They had let that discontentment take root, and now they were angry, with Moses and Aaron. Really? No. They took it out on Moses and Aaron. They had seen in Egypt what happens when you shake your fist at God directly, people die!
But God knew their hearts. They were angry with God, not Moses. They were not trusting God. They were trusting their eyes, their heads, their stomachs.

Those silly Israelites! Come on guys!

Well, how different am I? Just two weeks into public spaces being closed because of this current pandemic, and I feel discontent, a little angry. Justifiably so! A lot has changed in a short time, but if being in the wilderness and running out of food was not a good excuse for idolatry, then safer-at-home orders are not a good excuse either.

Idolatry? Whoa, hold on there. I see no statue worship, no fist shaking at God, no out right denial of his work.

Yes, idolatry. Whenever our peace, our hope, our security is relying on something other than God it’s idolatry.

Comfort, control, predictability, family, community, health, finances, “me time”, independence, whatever! If you are willing to sin to keep whatever it is, then it’s an idol. Not trusting God is the foundational sin, it’s what got Adam and Eve in the garden.

Yes, things are crazy. Yes, it is scary, nerve wracking, and we need to exercise caution (extreme caution in some cases). Yes, there is suffering (there was before COVID-19 and there will be after it).

But! God is not surprised, this is not outside of his plan. His good, pleasing, and perfect will for the good of those whom he has called, and for his glory forever and ever, has not changed and will not be stopped. Nothing can thwart his will.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

Romans 8:35

What happens in the next verses of Exodus? God gives them Manna, literally raining bread from heaven to feed them. Just before giving them the Manna, God gave Moses instructions about the Manna. God said to only collect enough for one day, except for the sixth day of the week collect enough for the seventh day also because the seventh day is the Sabbath, the day of rest. Even in God’s provision, he is requiring that the people trust him.

God did not take the people out of the wilderness. God did not lead them on a quicker path to the promised land. God did not have them settle down and start growing crops to solve their food problem. No, God did not change their circumstances, but came to them in the midst of their circumstances and provided for them even in their difficulty and even provided for them in their disobedience.

Praise God he comes to us before we come to him! Praise God he gives us grace before we ask for forgiveness! Praise God he allows us to see our weakness, so that the beauty of his provision is vibrant! Praise God he permits suffering so we stop clinging to our flimsy idols of self, and cling to our all sustaining, holy Savior!

Soli Deo Glroia!