Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Semi-Empty Nest Weekends

For the past couple of weekends, Dan and I have been "empty-nesters".  It's a totally new concept for us as we normally have a house filled with 3 generations -- with us being the "oldest" generation.  But, so many positive events have occurred over the past few weeks with the 'Joe family. Not to bore anyone with details {at least not for this post} ... but the 'Joe family is in transition to his next "station" for his medical treatment and then on to medical retirement.  
{If you are a new-ish reader, you can find several of my posts from February 2012 and forward regarding how our son-in-law was wounded in action when our grandson was 11 days old and our granddaughter was not only a new big sister but then suddenly a child of a wounded warrior}.

So, here is a glimpse of some pictures to show how Lucy & Tag are getting accustomed to living on a military post
(other than Walter Reed Hospital) ... 

Within July they will have their permanent housing all situated and we will settle into a routine.  Dan & I are so thankful that they are within driving distance from us and that they will soon be able to begin their own family life.  Lucy will still have her activities close to home -- church and dance -- so she will stay with us for parts of each week ... so we're really hoping to see Tag come back home for sleepovers and time with us too.

And ... for the past couple of weekends as "semi empty-nesters", we have had some time to get some projects done that have been put on hold for a while ...

I know ... I know ... our front and backyards sure don't look very pretty --- and power-washing decks & sidewalks just isn't as exciting as going to the community post pool, but --- Granny & Grandad will have to ease our way into this empty-nest stuff.  And we do have plenty of projects that we really need to catch-up on.  We're learning that we cannot do everything all at once.  So, I do hope to find more time for writing my posts as well as reading my dear friends' posts too. 
It all will come in baby steps for us.

{PS ... Just to let you know, life on the military post isn't all "sunshine and pool days".  As I write this, the little ones have been to a couple of their Daddy's doctors appointments already today.  Sometimes our daughter needs to go with him, so the kids will need to go along as well.  That is one drawback to them being even a couple of hours away from us.  Once they get settled into a permanent housing situation, then I will be able to help out during some of the major appointments.  And I'm sure they will also meet new friends once they are settled too.}

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Flashback" that Shaped Him Today

Normally I don't do pictures of the "flashback Friday" nor "transformation Tuesday" 
(although I have done a few "throwback Thursday" pics) ...

However, this picture has been on my mind lately.  It's the last one of Dan and his step-grandfather "Pappaw Bill". 
It was taken the end of July 1994 ... 
and God called Pappaw Bill to glory that fall.  

Pappaw Bill was the first grandfather I knew ... both of my grandfathers had passed away before I was born.  So when Dan & I were dating, Bill became my Pappaw Bill as well.  

Although he was "step"grandfather, there was nothing "step" about him -- his relationship to Dan was that of grandpa to grandson.  
And so Pappaw Bill was a special man to all of us.  

And this picture of Dan's bloodline grandfather playing with Dan even before I was born ... Dan was 2 years old ... 

I am so very thankful for Dan's grandfathers (although I only knew Pappaw Bill) ... each of these men showed my husband what it means to be a "grand".  Even this little boy of 2 years old knew that his grandfather thought so much of him that the older took his time to get on the floor and play. 

Dan is definitely a hands-on Grandad ... he knows how crucial it is for a child to know that their grandfather thinks enough of them to get down to their level.  

The impact of the "grand" relationship ...

it is time-consuming
it is deliberate
it is priceless

And sometimes -- many times -- these "flashbacks" bring us to where we are today...

and it is simply


Flashbacks truly can shape us into who we are today ...

because life is simply grand


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Our Shared Pearls

Several weeks ago Dan & I celebrated our 30th anniversary with a trip to O'ahu Hawai'i ... we booked our stay at Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa on the Leeward Coast of the island. It was such an awesome trip!  This was our first "major" trip away from family --- 
just the 2 of us.  

Throughout Aulani are Disney photographers who give guests a photo pass card to use throughout their stay & have the option to purchase pictures at the end of their visit.  And since we had eloped and had no wedding pictures of 30 years ago, we took advantage of the photo pass opportunities. 

As we would chat with photographers we sometimes told "our story" ... 
how we had dated for 8 months, then eloped -- and "now" in Hawaii for our 30th anniversary.  Evidently our story is not "typical" ... 
we would get responses of disbelief, shock and speechless.  
One person asked us if we had any "pearls of wisdom" to share with her since she had "only" been married for 5 years. Dan & I were actually taken aback at that question.  I think that was the first time anyone has ever asked us anything like that.  
{Honestly, we've lost some friends after they find out that we had almost ended our marriage many years ago -- 
so I guess I use the term "friends" very lightly.} 

But we responded with 3 "pearls" ...

Our first pearl is to keep God as center ... we really didn't know if this person has a relationship with God or not, but in our opinion this is the most vital aspect of marriage.  We both will be the first to admit that God has not always been the center of "us".  Sometimes we listened to "counsel" instead of seeking God's truth first ... sometimes we allowed pride to creep in instead of clinging to God's design of marriage ... and sometimes we simply just wanted "my way" -- whether him or me.  But when God became center ... He worked on each of us individually first, then as our married "one" ... everything in our "one life together" was put back into perspective and focus ... with God as center.

Our second pearl is to not take yourself so seriously ... life is too short to always want everything to be "perfect" ... God has so many blessings He truly wants to give each married couple yet sometimes "life" gets in the way. I can speak from my own personal experience on this one as well. I've gotten so frustrated with myself at times when things in life take a turn or a road block or a complete turn around.  Sometimes we just have to give up perfection and just laugh ... even on a bad hair day I can still breathe and enjoy my family & friends.  Life here on earth will never be "perfect" ... but we can lower our blood pressure and anxiety levels by simply accepting ourselves for who we truly are -- 
God's child.

And our third pearl is to never ever give up.  It doesn't matter how dark the clouds may have rolled in ... if it all seems so hopeless ... if you can't find a solution in sight --- Dan & I are living proof to never give up! As I said in my posts
  Once Upon a Time ...     and 
 we thought we had the perfect fairytale marriage ... until less than 4 years we were in divorce court ... all that stood between "til death do us part"  was our final signatures and the final lawyer's payment.  And now ... here we are ... 30 years later. 
 We simply cannot say enough -- never ever give up.  We just cannot imagine what our lives would have been like had we given up.  And again ...

Redemption is beautiful.

Please feel free to comment and leave one (or several) "Pearls of Wisdom" that you would like to share ... we never know what an impact we have on others' lives & even marriages.  There's so many passages of God's Word that tells us how to stand with each other such as 

I Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and edify one another" ---  

Hebrews 3:13 "But encourage one another daily as long as it is called Today ..."

May you be encouraged in your marriage and your daily relationships through God's Word and 
also through true friends who will always be there 
alongside of you.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Anxiety Relief Through Swim Lessons

I mentioned in my last post that Lucy and Tag are taking swim lessons!  Monday through Thursday for 2 weeks ... intensive 30 minute lessons.  One big pool roped off for different swim training specifically for children.  
Our daughter goes in the water with Tag ... at the same time Lucy is in her class.

Tag is pretty much fearless once he gets into the water ... he's getting used to going under the water ... he loves splashing ... and he blows kisses to his Granny as she divides her attention and phone camera between him and his sister.  I think it's safe to say that Tag is definitely our little fish!  He is so very eager to "schim" in our pool in our backyard!

And our Lucy ... not quite as fearless as her little brother ... she was very excited at the "sound" of taking swim lessons ... 
she loves her new bathing suit and swim cap ... and she is our anxious one.

Everyone at the program loves Lucy and wants to see her succeed and conquer her fears. By Thursday, Lucy was actually volunteering to go first in every new activity the instructor planned for their class.  She was still on the verge of anxiety as she went through the glass doors and beyond our reach. But it helped calm her (albeit a "little") when she saw her Grandad coming in to watch her and Tag.

Later that evening when she and I were talking at home, she said "Nanny, I just don't like to go under water. I have anxiety issues about swimming."  Okay, so I just heard my 5 year old granddaughter say the words "anxiety issues" in the same sentence during her apparent confessional with her Granny --- 
oh my...
  So, I did what every other Granny would do ... I sat her on my lap and prayed that God would give me a way to relate to her on her level ... and let her know that her "anxiety issues" are real, yet can be overcome with God's help. I sure did not want to make light of her insecurities and fears.

Okay ... with a 5 second prayer rushed in those moments ... it came back to me.  You see, just a few days prior, Lucy and I had watched one of her American Girl movies --- McKenna.  McKenna is a promising gymnast who is falling behind in her reading comprehension.  Her teacher recommends a tutor yet in the meantime McKenna breaks her ankle so no gymnastics through her recovery period. She is forced to focus on her school work ... then she returns to the gymnastic competitive team finals.  She is filled with anxiety and fear that she may break her ankle again while performing her routine.  Then she remembers what her coach had told her during other gymnastics meets ... inhale blue skies in --- exhale gray skies out.

So, within another 5 seconds all of the movie flashes in my mind and I retell it Lucy.  I tell her that one of our past Presidents of the United States once said the only thing we have to fear is being afraid of something (my paraphrase for a 5 year old).  She tilted her head and asked "So I don't need to be afraid of anything except just being afraid?" 
Well ... pretty much.

She and I had already had "the" talk earlier that day ...  
"Lucy, who made the water?" -- "God did."
"Lucy, is God with you when you're outside of the water?" -- "Yes." 
"Lucy, is God with you when you're under the water?" -- "Yes." 
"So what do you have to be afraid of?" -- "Nothing."

So ... as she sat on my lap on my bed with me, I told her another little exercise ... we talked about McKenna and how she focused on her school work and she returned to gymnastics & made the competitive team.  I told Lucy a little exercise to do when she feels any anxiety creeping around her ...

inhale God's peace ...
exhale all anxiety

and repeat until she actually feel the peace of God overtaking her anxieties.

And she did.
And she told her Mommy and her Grandad what she was going to do to get rid of her anxieties.

And then Granny thought ...
If this works on my 5 year old granddaughter, then it can surely help bring a
49 year old Granny back to a peaceful reality when my anxieties begin to overtake me...

inhale God's peace ...
exhale all anxiety

I know that Lucy will enjoy swimming more and more as she gets more used to the water and learning how to control herself and the water around her. I also hope that she remembers that God is always with her no matter where she is or what her circumstances.  If God is for her, then what can possibly be against her?  And Granny just may need to get back to these basics when it comes to relieving any anxiety that may find its way into my path as well.

inhale God's peace ...
exhale all anxiety

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Recital, Graduation & Swim Lessons ... Life is Grand

Our household has gone nonstop for the past month ... and quite honestly, by the time I sit down in the evenings, I am pretty much gone for the rest of the night.  We've been busy with dance recitals, preschool graduations and swim classes.  So, as I make apologies for not keeping updated on other posts from my dear friends, I will say that we are having a fun-filled kick-off to the summer season ...

First ... on May 16th Dan & I celebrated our "official" 30th anniversary!  God is so awesome in His grace and mercy ... we went to 
PF Chang's for a late lunch and had a little time to ourselves to celebrate us. 
I so respect and appreciate him more and more everyday.  I can honestly say that 30 years ago (as head-over-heels in love with him as I was) ... I really didn't have a clue as to what love was all about.  And each day I learn more and more on what "love" truly is ...

{Why yes, I did cheat a little ... 
our anniversary "selfie" was not to my liking of me so I threw in another "Island" pic}

The day after (on May 17th), Lucy had her first dance recital performance of the weekend ... 
her tap class danced to The Good Ship Lollipop ... 
{and GG & Grandpa even came over just as they did for Lucy's mommy's activities & recitals!}


And this week, Tuesday June 4th, Lucy graduated from preschool!!!  
Dan & I are now the proud grandparents of a Kindergartner! 

God has some mighty plans for this little girl ... we are so very proud of her!!!

And also this week ...

swim lessons began for Lucy & Tag ---

Tag is as fearless as Lucy is apprehensive ... but she has done so great this week! Today was her 4th lesson & she was even volunteering to go first at just about everything her instructor was doing. 
 And she even had a surprise visitor today to help calm her nerves ...

Each passing moment I love and admire him more & more!
He makes time in his busy day to come watch his grandbabies at swim class!

 Busy household ... 
busy with our grandbabies ...

I plan on catching up on my reading this weekend and cannot wait to see what my dear blogging friends have been up to as well!

~~~ Have a blessed weekend my friends ~~~

And ... whenever you have to choose ---

always choose family ...

time passes by fast enough and a new blog posts will always be in the works ---
but children grow up and grandbabies grow up way too fast!

ENJOY your family!