Strong Foundations

Keeping up with writing about the progress of our new house has been quite the challenge. I’ve been trying to write this post about foundations since the beginning of August. This is what our house looked like at that time:

Those forms would eventually hold the foundation on our home. Without a strong foundation, we would encounter a host of problems from which we’d likely never recover. There must be a strong base.

In fact, the Scriptures say, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Pastor James MacDonald has a continuous series on “Foundations” based on this verse. We must build and protect strong foundations for our lives, our families, our faith, and our homes.

In the time that has passed since I started thinking about this post, Nick and I have both lost a Grandparent. Grandma Giardino met her Savior on September 7th and Grandpa Solly arrived in Heaven just 20 days later. In fact, as I write this post, I am on a plane headed to his home-going service. This will be a full month of grieving and goodbyes. (Although, unfortunately, the grief does not end with the goodbye).

While this has been a difficult time, it has also been full of sweet moments and joy. We are assured of their places in Heaven and that brings us great comfort and peace. But, we have also spent a great deal of time talking about their legacies and how our lives are different because of them.

We stand on their shoulders. They are part of what makes our foundation so strong. We were loved deeply by both of them. Not only were we loved as biological grandchildren, but we each felt that same love and acceptance from the other’s grandparent when we joined our families in marriage.

Grandma Giardino was a strong and determined woman. She managed to raise 4 boys, care for her husband, and still be creative, industrious, inventive, and politically active. She was fiercely protective of her family.

A few weeks before her passing, Grandma attended an event to welcome our niece, Payton, to the family. We had asked for guests to write letters to her to be opened at important moments in her life. Because Grandma was legally blind, she had to dictate her letter to Aunt Kelly. Here’s what I remember hearing:

Dear Payton,

This Grandma is old and probably won’t live to see you grow up. But I want you to know that you are so loved and so are your parents.


Grandma G

Her legacy is one of love and fierce pursuit. Every time I saw her, she told me how she was praying for Nick and I to have all our hearts desire. She was always anxious to brag on one of her kids or grandkids. Oh, how she loved us all.

And, when we went to visit her just after she left us to meet her Savior face-to-face, I noticed something on the wall of her hospital room. There was a document that the nurses used to know their patients better. The first question was about favorite things. Hers read, “my kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids”. Another question asked where she would rather be and she wrote “home”. For most people, you would imagine they would like to be back in their house, but Grandma meant something entirely different. She longed for her eternal home. She spoke of that coming time often.

The final notation on the wall of her hospital room showed the pain chart. The nurses had circled the biggest smiley face indicating no pain and had written, “no pain, very happy” and they were so right! Grandma is happy, whole, reunited with Grandpa and in the arms of the One she loved and served so well. To build upon that legacy is an honor and a privilege.

As for me, I have been thinking a great deal about the things that marked my Grandpa’s life. Grandpa Solly, or “Pop”, was a strong and quiet man. He worked hard all of his life and provided for his wife and kids. He did amazing work with his hands and was mechanically inclined. In fact, I wasn’t allowed to touch a paint brush to help paint the house until I had been to “The Grandpa School of Painting”. He did everything with excellence.

Many of us think of his financial responsibility and frugality when we think of Pop. He was constantly clipping coupons, hunting for a deal, and stockpiling items when he found them at a great price. “I paid a dime for that soap years ago, and they are $2.00 a piece now”, he’d say, “that’s money in the bank!” As Nick and I joined our lives and our finances, we looked to his example. It was always so exciting for me to be able to share with Pop how we were sacrificing to pay down debt so we could have the same freedom he enjoyed. He was so generous with his time and his resources. I want to steward my resources as well so as to have the same privilege.

But, the thing that seems the miracle of Grandpa’s life to me is how unconditionally kind he was. I can’t find a single memory where I heard him say something negative about someone. (Ok…maybe about a politician or two). But, when it came to the people in his life, he was a quiet observer, always taking everything in, but never tearing down. I have so many memories of chats with him at the kitchen table where he sat with his arms folded, one hand on his chin, and a twinkle in his eye. No matter the circumstance or what you’d done, he and Grandma have always opened their home or come to our rescue. This is what I want to permeate my life – miraculous kindness and generosity. What an example we have had!

I have some catching up to do on the journey of our home, but this delay was providential, that I may truly see the foundation, and the legacies, upon which we are building. This building is not just a house to us, it is a home and an instrument to be used by God in our lives and the lives of others. He is already shaping, challenging, and changing us through this process. It’s so beautiful!

As we say goodbye to our Grandparents here on earth, I hope they were proud of how we have and will continue to carry their legacies. We believe the Solly and Giardino names mean something and we want to give honor to that in the way we live.

Thanks, Grandma G and Pop for giving us Dads who love the Lord and us so well. Thank you for loving your spouses so well and giving us an example of commitment and life-long love. (Grandma and Grandpa Giardino had been married 40 years when he went home to the Lord and Grandma and Grandpa Solly we’re married an astonishing 65 years!) Thank you for a strong and beautiful foundation on which to build. We love you and we will see you soon.

One thought on “Strong Foundations

  1. Mavis Loraine (Dahlgren) Giardino, 89, died peacefully in her sleep on September 7, 2018. She was a beloved Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, and friend to many. Mavis was born January 16, 1929, in Rockford, Illinois. Mavis was preceded in death by her husband, Peter Giardino, by her parents, Aldrich & Amanda Dahlgren, her beloved sister, June (Dahlgren) Danekas. Mavis spent much of her life in Elgin, Illinois. She graduated from Elgin High School in 1947. She was crowned Ms. Elgin American later, a distinction she enjoyed and had a lot of fun with. She married the love of her life, Peter Giardino on July 14, 1956, after his return from service in WWII. They were faithfully married until Peter’s passing in 1997. Mavis had a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins in the Rockford area, as well as a nephew, Gary Danekas and wife Denise in Las Vegas, NV. Mavis was a loving mother to Mike, Tom, Tim and Dave to whom she dedicated boundless energy and support. She was active in her community as a member of several community groups including: American Legion, Friends of Judson, Red Hat Society, Elgin High School Reunion Committee, and Beaux Arts Society. She was a member and active volunteer at Willow Creek Community Church and later returned to her church home at the Evangelical Covenant Church, in Elgin. She often participated in community service projects benefitting women and children, raising funds for college arts scholarships and supporting the betterment of the veterans of the Elgin community. Mavis was a talented cook, something her friends and family enjoyed tremendously. As a stay at home mother, she was a sought-after wedding cake designer and baker, a part-time business she ran from her home. As the children got older, she ran a business, supporting a number of chiropractors and the administration of their business office. Mavis was passionate and generous with her love and support of family and friends and deeply dedicated to her faith. Her optimism, quick wit, gentle strength, generosity and warm smile will be missed. She is survived by her 4 sons, 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Visitation will take place at the Evangelical Covenant Church, 1565 Larkin Ave, Elgin Illinois from 10 to 11 AM on Tuesday, September 18, 2018. A memorial service will follow at 11 AM, and reception at the church, thereafter. For those wishing to memorialize Mavis’ life, please donate to a charity dear to you and in Mavis’ name. Laird Funeral Home, Elgin is assisting the family. 847-741-8800 or
    Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on Sept. 11, 2018

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