Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Honor of Memorial Day

Honoring our fallen heroes this Memorial Day & weekend.  Please say a prayer for the families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  Saying "thank you" just doesn't seem enough ...

The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.

The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.

Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.

May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.

In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace...Who brought a sword.
- Joyce Kilmer -

Hither we come to scatter flowers
This thirtieth day of May,
Upon our fallen heroes' graves
On this Memorial Day;
We cherish now no bitter thoughts
In this fair land of ours,
But on all fallen heroes' graves
We come to scatter flowers.

The rank and file in North and South
Believed their cause was just;
We find upon each battle flag
Inscribed, "In God We Trust;"
And in this sunny land of ours,
Now sleeping side by side,
The Union Blue and Southern Gray
Lie buried where they died.

Since we have come to scatter flowers
This consecrated day,
We cannot cherish bitter thoughts
Toward those who wore the "Gray;"
Believing that their cause was right,
Freely their blood they shed;
Then, let us strew-alike-the graves
Of all our sacred dead.

And those who for the Union fought,
In scattering flowers to-day
On heroes' graves, would never dream
Of passing by the gray;
And heroes of the "Southern Cause,"
In paying homage true,
Will not forget the graves of those
Who wore the Union Blue.

Thrice welcome, then, this sacred day.
That binds our hearts anew;
Our country undivided stands,
For all-now love the Blue;
On resurrection day,
Linked arm in arm, we'll find the boys
Who wore the Blue and Gray.
- William Henry Clay Dodson -

Please visit for more information on Memorial Day.  History, poetry, images, links ... for our heroes we will forever be grateful and will forever endeavor to educate our upcoming generations on the sacrifices that have been made for our great country.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What A Difference A Year Makes

As I was looking through my picture files today, I came across a scene that was played out last May ... then again on Mother's Day this year.  The following is a pictorial of just how fast time really goes by ... and just how fast these little ones grow up.

Lucy & her strawberry plants, May 2010 ... 

 And a year later, Mother's Day, May 2011 ...

 You know, these little ones do grow up fast, don't they?
One thing is for sure, they're only this little once. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What I Saw Her Doing ... Building Relationships

When I was growing up, my parents & I lived with my Granny and Aunt K.  I spent a lot of time with Granny since both my parents worked, so her values and ethics were instilled in me at an early age. 
And I still have them.

She was a hard-worker, a strong woman and most importantly a woman who loved God with all her heart.  One of the many things I remember about Granny was something she said to all of her family – “You can do what you see me doing.”  A bold statement … yet a true testimony to my Granny’s character.  Now, her children may have said (and actually did say) “The only thing we see you do is work hard!”  And Granny would reply “Well ...”  (coming across as "and your point is?")  Yes, Granny had a way of getting her message across.

Today as I thought about my Granny, her saying came back to me.  And I reflect on the aspect of her relationship with others.  She was always willing to help anybody:  strangers would knock on my Granny’s door and she would always help them with whatever they needed. She never turned anyone away.  Although she’s been in Heaven for 25 years now, when pictures are posted of her on Facebook there’s a string of comments from people who keep saying what a wonderful woman she was --- and I couldn’t agree more. 

I started thinking back over the years of living away from my family.  And one thing I can say is that my Granny’s belief relationships carried with me even though we were hundreds of miles away.  When Granddad & I moved with our baby daughter, we left behind most of our family. (Two of my cousins lived in the same city that we moved to, but they both moved away many years ago. Now G-G & Grandpa, and my sister & her family are just 1 ½ hours away from us.)

So, in order for our daughter to “know her family” -- Granddad's family and both sides of aunts, uncles & cousins -- in our home-states, we made a few trips each year to visit them.  Granddad’s family lived fairly close by, so we would stay with them for the duration of our visits.  And we would take time to visit my family.  This was important to Granddad & me so that both sides of our families could develop a lasting relationship with our daughter.  In our generation, several of our kids were around the same age (within 5 or so years of each other), and always looked forward to visits … carrying on my Granny’s legacy of building relationships.  It was so much fun seeing the kids play together & build the bond that would last even til this day, and still many miles apart from one another. 

These relationships didn’t “just happen” as my Granny’s great-grandchildren were growing up.  They took time … they took sacrifice … they took deliberation.  Yes, deliberation.  When we would finalize our travel plans to make sure Granddad’s family would be home, I would then call my Aunt and she would let the rest of the family know that we were “coming in for a visit.”  It didn’t matter the length of the visit.  It just mattered that our daughter was building lasting relationships with her family – the families that both of us grew up in. 

Unfortunately over the past several years, we haven’t been able to travel for family visits as much as we would like.  Various responsibilities just haven’t really allowed us the time to personally introduce Lucy to the rest of the family.  But you know, we all stay close through Facebook, texts, emails, and phone calls.  We are at varying stages in our lives, and sometimes we just don’t communicate as we have in the past. But we have already laid our relationship foundation.  And although face to face visits would be wonderful, we all understand that sometimes that’s just not possible. Thank God for technology that can bring families close together who are separated by the miles ... it has with us.     

There have been times when it’s been impossible to travel for the milestone occasions – graduations, weddings, anniversaries, births.  But maybe the whole point about these milestones really isn’t the milestone itself.  Although disappointing if it’s not possible to attend, maybe there’s something deeper and more meaningful … and it’s in our relationships.  Could it be that God wants us to see these milestones through our relationships, and maybe not necessarily through the occasion itself?

You know, my Granny absolutely loved getting together with her family.  But if someone couldn’t be there for a specific occasion, she just looked forward to when she was able to see them.  She would just say “Oh law, don’t worry about that. You come in when you can and we’ll sit on the back porch and just talk.”  That’s what I saw my Granny doing … always building relationships. 

So Lucy, I know that your Granny sure can’t live up to your Great-Great Granny’s “you can do what you see me doing”.  But I do pray that you value relationships just as much as your Great-Great Granny Lucy did.  And that you see God in every relationship you have.  Your Granny loves you, Little Princess.    


Thursday, May 19, 2011

No Excuse ... Just Grace

Our alarm clock went off at 5:30 this morning --- much like every weekday morning. No, it’s not always the easiest part of my day to get out of bed this early, but the 5:00 hour and I have a relationship that goes back to my childhood. Most mornings God lays something on my mind for me to focus on as I’m waking up: a Bible verse, a memory, a song, a movie or tv show … always something to help me wake up and begin my day. And sometimes He even lays the foundation for a blog post – such as this morning. So, we will see where God leads with His topic for the day.
Straight to the point …
Have you ever heard words (or said words) such as:  
There’s no excuse for what you did ... I am done with you ... I never want to talk to you again ... I don’t care if I ever see you again ...   

I'm not sure how a relationship gets to the point of these words being spoken -- or even thought of for that matter. Now I’m not saying that we all agree with each other all the time. We may not agree on anything under the sun … and we may disagree ‘til Kingdom come.  But it’s how we do it that makes the difference in our relationships. I for one cannot imagine speaking or writing or thinking these words to anyone. It’s just unfathomable to me.

I am so very thankful that I have people here on this planet Earth that I know would never in a million years say those kind of words to me. But … I’m even more thankful that there is the One who would never say those words to me --- my Heavenly Father God Almighty. No matter what I do, I know that I am always welcomed into His arms that are abounding in His amazing grace.

Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines grace as: a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b : a virtue coming from God c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace 

But God’s grace isn’t just a definition. His grace goes beyond a definition. Unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness … I can’t earn it, can’t borrow from it, can’t hoard it. Grace is the very nature of God. Grace gives me what I do not deserve. Grace takes the broken and makes them whole.  Grace takes the undeserved and gives them hope. Grace takes the impossible and makes a way.  

When the world says There's no excuse for what you've done ... Grace says You don't need an excuse -- I paid the price for you.  

When the world says I'm done with you ... Grace says I treasure my relationship with you and love you unconditionally.

When the world says I never want to talk to you again ... Grace says My communication with you is never-ending.

When the world says I don't care if I ever see you again ... Grace says Welcome home my child --you are Mine.

My faithful Father, enduring Friend
Your tender mercy's like a river with no end
It overwhelms me, covers my sin
Each time I come into Your presence
I stand in wonder once again

Your grace still amazes me
Your love is still a mystery
Each day I fall on my knees
Your grace still amazes me 

'Cause Your grace still amazes me

Oh, patient Saviour, You make me whole 
You are the Author and the Healer of my soul 
What can I give You, Lord, what can I say 
I know there's no way to repay You 
Only to offer You my praise

It's deeper, it's wider 
It's stronger, it's higher 
It's deeper, it's wider 
It's stronger, it's higher
Than anything my eyes can see

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 16, 1984 ... Through Many Seasons

Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens
I’ve been in love with you. 

Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I’ve been in love with you.

I’ll bring fire in the winters
You’ll send showers in the spring
We’ll fly through the falls and summers
With love on our wings.

Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow
I’ll be in love with you
I’ll be in love with you. 

Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens
I’ve been in love with you 
I am in love with you.

Dan Fogelberg had a personal voice that would made you believe that he was singing directly to you.  Heartfelt -- angelic -- soothing … ahhhh, what a voice!  And he was one of Granddad’s favorites.

As I’m reflecting on my past 27 years being married to the man of my dreams, I think of Longer.  I was 19 and Granddad was 22 … we really didn’t have a clue what we were getting in to that day we eloped.  We thought we knew what being in love was all about … we really didn’t.  But over the years, we’ve been seasoned as high as mountain peaks and as deep as the forest grows.

With each passing day, my respect and appreciation grows stronger for the man I married 27 years ago.  He’s a man of God, a hard-worker and a family man … my husband.  He’s respected by family, friends, church and colleagues.

I never dreamed 27 years ago that God would have us where we are today. It may seem a little strange to some people, but I’m thankful for the trials and crises we’ve been through together … they’ve seasoned us as individuals and as a married couple.  We’re both very thankful that God didn’t leave us as we were when we were first married.  We’ve grown, we matured and we’ve learned over the years … together. 

And I’m looking forward to starting our next 27 years … together … with God as our center.

Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens
I’ve been in love with you 
I am in love with you.

Happy Anniversary, Honey ~~~
I thank God for you everyday

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Prayer and Relationships

I thank God everyday for my Mother.  I've learned so much from her, and I'm still learning from her.  One of my earlier childhood memories is my Mother praying with me every night.  We would go into a closed room and she would guide me in praying ... for our family, our community, the sick, the hungry ... every night we prayed together.
I owe my prayer life today to the early teaching of my Mother. 

My Mother also has shown me the meaning of relationships.  In order to have a relationship with someone, I need to invest my time and energy as well.  My Mother has always made time to build and strengthen her relationships ... and now she is G-G to our little Lucy.  And trust me, Lucy always makes sure that she talks to her G-G everyday! (And hearing G-G's voice on the answering machine just does not count at all.)

Now, if I go on and on too much about my Mother, I'm sure that I will hear about it somehow.  Mother doesn't like any fuss over her nor is she the "showy" kind.  She just lives her life everyday as God directs.  I'm very thankful to Him for blessing me with my Mother. 

Happy Mother's Day, Mother ~~~ I love you!

Four generations in '08 ... priceless.

Mother with her grandchildren & great-granddaughter '08