We’d sit on her couch and eat the peanut butter fudge she made and talk to each other as we flipped through the pages of her stacks of magazines, pointing out recipes that looked good or strange or things that struck us funny. On the coldest, grayest days there would be coal burning in the fireplace and the small room would be toasty warm, and if Christmas was close, the little tabletop tree would blink red and gold and green and blue at us in the corner. I loved Granny Farley’s little house, but mostly I loved that she’d sit by me, wanting to hear about school or friends or whatever in the world that I felt like talking about.

If it were summer we’d sit on the metal glider on her side porch and drink lemonade in those jewel toned aluminum glasses that would get so cold. We’d talk and then maybe she’d show me the garden. Not the vegetables, even though there were plenty of them, but the flowers, the little Sweet Williams with their cheery lacy faces. She taught me how to embroider and how to make clothes for my Barbies. She never rushed me or made me eat things I didn’t want to try. I remember that her refrigerator was always full, and that I loved standing beside her at the sink. She’d wash and I’d rinse. There wasn’t a dishwasher but I didn’t mind. I wanted to stand beside her and laugh and talk. I knew she hadn’t always had an easy life, but she always made things easy for me. She was the only one I knew with a cushioned toilet seat- even sitting on the potty was comfortable and easy at her house.

When I was around her I felt completely free to be myself. More than myself, really. I could be who I hoped to be, wanted to be. I could be who she thought I was, which was better than who I really was. I wasn’t afraid to try to do things- to sew or cook or clean or draw- because she believed I could do it. She’d show me how when I asked her for help, but she’d never step in and tell me that there was a better way. She’d just let me do it as I liked. And sometimes, when I was thinking, I’d notice how she did things like paring an apple and I’d take a knife of my own and copy. I’d ask her lots of questions because she knew things that I wanted to know. I also felt safe enough to just enjoy the quiet together.

It was Frederick Buechner that got me thinking about my time with Granny Farley.  Here’s the quote I’m talking about:

“Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come Lord Jesus.”  Frederick Buechner, The Clown in the Belfry; Writing on Faith and Fiction

Sometimes we forget how extraordinary it is to be loved the way God loves. All the talk about it becomes like wallpaper that we don’t notice anymore. Love. Love. Blah blah blah. But it’s a good question.

How do we live out of the good news that we are loved? How do we live toward it?

Maybe we can think of a time we’ve felt utterly and completely loved, if we’re lucky enough to have experienced that, and reflect on how we tend to act when that happens. Maybe we can try to live our lives in that way.

We can try to trust the love that says we’re completely free to be our real selves, the selves that God made us to be. We can live towards being who God thinks we are, which is better than who we really are. We can remember that if God leads us to do something, it’s because God knows we can do it, whether it’s dealing with an old grudge or trying to make new friends or stepping out of our comfort zones. God will show us the way if we ask, but he probably won’t step in and direct. God will probably just stay close, enjoying being with us, taking joy in observing how we do what we do, like a grandparent in love. Because God is in love. With us.

As for me, I want to enter 2016 remembering that God wants me to enjoy the fudge and the flowers, along with the carrots and onions and potatoes. Or maybe I’m just sad that all our Christmas cookies are gone.

Anyway, here’s to a new year of living out the good news that we are loved more than we can imagine!

Love and peace to you!