Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My 50 Things ...

Some people view "knocking over another decade" as a milestone ... I am the opposite.  The one birthday that I truly considered my "milestone" has come & gone. I won't clutter this post with links, but a few posts from August 2012 and 2013 give some details on my "milestone" birthday and the events that led to it being my milestone.

Now my 50th birthday is coming around very soon ... in less than a week. So, in honor of the "big 5-0" I've written 50 things I am grateful for & what I consider as blessings.  There's been lots of changes & transitions in our household lately, so I'm looking at this next chapter positively.  After all, God breathed the promise that He would work all things for the good for His children. And, as I am a child of God -- I can not only count my blessings but I can also see when things weren't necessarily a piece of cake to live through ... but He turned those into the good for where I am now. 
These are not in any certain order of importance or my gratitude for them, they are simply "some" of the things I am grateful for ... this list does not cover everything I'm thankful for either.  I will say that the most important blessing to me is the blood of Jesus Christ -- God's one & only beloved Son -- who took the punishment for my sin so that I would live eternally with Him. Every of thing on this list stems from God's mercy & grace to me through Jesus Christ.

And so ... here it goes:

~~~ Our family's little "holler" where I grew up having my parents, my Granny, cousins, aunts & uncles all around me -- Granny's house in the center (and my sister coming along almost 9 years after me)
~~~ The close-knit community I grew up in {a community which had a population small enough that we all knew each other's families}
~~~ My hometown church where I was baptized in the creek that ran behind it
~~~ My Granny's front porch where the grown-ups would swing on the porch while all us kids would play in Granny's front yard
~~~ My Granny's back porch where memories were shared & made ... from the glider to the swing to the rocks to the trees -- and the old well-pump house stood to the side
~~~ Teachers who were family or friends, and probably had taught other family members -- and knew all families of their students
~~~ My Granny's gardens where I would work alongside to help plant & harvest vegetables/flowers

~~~ Memories of good times growing up in our little corner of country-life
~~~ The old dipper of Granny's that was used to water her flowers as well as hung over her kitchen sink so that all of us could use to get a drink of water when we wanted
~~~ Wisdom gained throughout the years ... even through some tough lessons
along the way
~~~ Swimming in the creek across the road and the old swinging bridge that crossed the creek & bike rides with my uncle leading the way
~~~ Relationship values ... family values ... Christ-centered life
~~~ The little blonde girl who always dreamed ... and still dreams as
she approaches her 50th
~~~ Friends who walked alongside during the crazy years & stayed around for years to come

~~~ For God's grace during life-changing crises
~~~ For dirt roads that teach us more of life's lessons than we imagine
~~~ For best friends' parents who become just like 2nd parents
~~~ For technology that has brought many new friendships into my life
~~~ Today ... these truly are the "good ol' days"
 ~~~ New community with new opportunities & the city that would be now known as "home"
~~~ Circles of friends to share with as our kids grew up in our church ministries

~~~ Reconciliation ... restoration ... redemption
~~~ God's unending mercies & grace when we had all but given up
~~~ Hometown pastors who were more than pastors -- and counted as life-long friends always
~~~ Nail-scarred hands to welcome loved ones who are still missed everyday
~~~ For pursuing the dreams that God had instilled & knowing we walked in His center
~~~ For the miracle of life when the doctor gave no hope of becoming parents
~~~ For the promise that He will work all things for my good since I am His child
~~~ Laughter, giggles & chaos as well as quiet times
~~~ Walt Disney's vision of family fun togetherness
~~~ Being stretched beyond my comfort zone when sometimes I'd rather become a recluse

~~~ Social media reconnecting me with old friends
~~~ Work ethic, character & integrity (hopefully mine as a positive)
~~~ For hiking the hillsides of my country community
~~~ Birthdays & celebrations ... anniversaries & births ... weddings & reunions
~~~ Out of the whole world, my country is the United States of America
~~~ Those who have prayed, sustained and held up the arms of our kids especially during these past 2 1/2 years
~~~ For the Internet that provides reconnection with life-long friends

~~~ Friends who simply walk alongside me although we may be miles apart or just do not get together as often as in the past
~~~ Past friendships that may have been for a season ... but will always be with me
~~~ God's unfailing grace toward me ... although I sometimes fall short of extending grace to others
~~~ My daughter Jacqueline & the heritage of her namesake of her great-aunt
~~~ My 2 grandchildren Lucy & Tag who carry family names & heritage to pass down to future generations
~~~ My Mother who taught a very young girl to pray
~~~ My Daddy who taught that young girl that your character matters
~~~ Challenges that grow me ... and peace that sustains me
~~~ My Granny ... who was always there for me

~~~ Changing seasons that illustrate so vividly that God never leaves us where we are
~~~ My husband who followed God's design for him before he accepted Him ... 
we're going on 31 years together ... and it just gets better
~~~ Every breath is the most precious gift from God ... and not taken for granted


These 50 things certainly do not include every detail on my thankfulness ...
but I'm looking forward to sharing more blessings in the posts to come ...

I'm looking forward to "knocking over another decade" very soon!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Reflection Week

Seems like this time of the year I tend to be a little quieter ... yeah, I go about my daily routines, conversations & everyday life ... but to be perfectly honest, this is probably one of the most reflective weeks I have every year.  My husband has seen me through the past 30 years of
"this week" every August.
And I'm everso reminded that "this week" will be "the week" for so many others who experience the freshness of loss within the past few days.  One of Dan's friends and music buddies has lost his dad just in the past few days ... one of our friends from our former church ministry lost her mother on the same day ... and the world has experienced the loss of all of our loved actor Robin Williams.
This week I reflect ...
on God's goodness
on God's faithfulness
on God's graciousness
It's especially during this week that I see God's glory as I reflect
on family ... on relationships ... on legacies ...
My hope is for my future generations to value their relationships just as I was brought up to do.  That's why this week has always been the reflective week for me just as I'm sure it is for my family.  This year is the 34th year ...
my beloved Aunt was met at Heaven's gates by His nail-scarred hands. She's the reason I do not drink alcohol nor does my family.  My daughter carries her name and (I know) some of her characteristics. She is missed daily ... she is celebrated always.  This week marks the date of her car wreck (August 15) ... and the date of her birthday (August 18) which is also the day we said our earthly good-byes to her.
I know it's a tough week to get through for so many in my family ... especially my Mother.  So, my sweet blogging friends, please say a little prayer for her this week. 
And please remember those who have experienced loss this week ---
we never know what even a small prayer will do for them.
My Granny & her girls -- my Mother sitting on her lap. Aunt Hilda is last on right.

Monday, August 4, 2014

On Being Tucked In ...

Our wonderful daughter and sweet grands were home over this past weekend. 
Lucy had her Summer Showcase Dance Recital in which her little heart led her dancing every step of the way! 
Through her jazz ... and her ballet ...
our girl is really growing up too fast on us!
And then, the quick weekend was over ... time for them to head back to their "new home".  Dan & I are transitioning into the new household arrangement just as the little ones are -- and their parents as well. 
So, last night we Facetimed with everyone!  We've often said that the cartoon "The Jetsons" was so beyond it's time back in "our day" ...
visual telephones -- who ever heard of such a thing!
Well ... somehow Tag was put in charge of his Mommy's iPad.  And he was just chattering away with his Grandad & Granny.  And then his Mommy came back in the his bedroom & started "ahhhhhh"-ing.  Then she took a picture on her cell phone ...
Our sweet little boy had tucked us in for the night -- in HIS bed!!!!!  Oh man .... he sure knows how to get to his Granny's heart! 
 And then I started thinking about it ...
Isn't that how relationships are supposed to be?  At the end of the day ...
 this is all we have ...
our relationships ...
We may not always agree with each other ...
we may not always understand each other ...
we do always have each other.
One of our former pastors always asked this:
Would you rather be in fellowship or be right?
Unfortunately I know there've been times in my life where I have not put my relationships as priority.  However, there've also been times when both Dan & I have tried to restore relationships with those who are simply unwilling to accept restoration. And those are the times that we accept that we've done all we could to restore and we simply have to leave the rest to God.  I've learned over the years that I have to do all that God instructs me to do in restoring relationships ... then I leave it at the foot of the Cross.
I cannot force someone into accepting and restoring.  I may not understand why,
but God knows their hearts -- and we still pray for restoration.
I think back on my Granny ... her whole life was centered around her relationships ...
her relationship with her Savior Jesus Christ
her relationship with her family
her relationship with her community
her relationship with strangers who were in need of help
This is what our lives are all about -- our relationships.  And this Granny & Grandad are so very thankful for the relationship with we have our daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, family ...
we don't have to be right ...
we don't have to agree ...
we don't have to understand ...
we simply just need to be
At the end of the day
it's a good thing to be "tucked in":
tucked in the prayers of those who care
tucked in the hearts of our family & friends
tucked in our eternal relationship with our
Lord & Savior
There's a much higher price that's paid for not being tucked in ...
personally, I don't want to pay that price.

Friday, August 1, 2014

What I Don't Do Often Enough

I think anybody who has read my blog knows how much this Granny loves to brag and show-off her grandchildren!  Lucy & Tag are just simply awesome ... and as with most grandparents, I tend to go on & on about them.  And that's a good thing --- 
these generations of grandkids have earned their "grand" in our eyes!

Yet ... 
before Lucy & Tag ... 
before "grands" ... 
before our 2nd anniversary ... 

there's our daughter 

Her "Boot Shoot" while 'Joe was in Iraq

I don't often say anything about her, 
but this Mommy is going to brag on her daughter ... 

she became a "war-bride" at the age of 19 
(when she married her best friend on Christmas Eve 2005) ... 
she spent the first year of their marriage without him 
(he deployed to Iraq within a couple of weeks of their wedding) ... 

8 1/2 years from their wedding day

 she gave birth to Lucy while 'Joe was on the road from his duty station about 9 hours away from home 
(he pretty much was gone throughout the pregnancy too) ...
she gave birth to Tag when 'Joe was deployed to Afghanistan 
(just 11 short days before he was wounded in action) ...

Long distance call from Afghanistan just hours after Tag was born
 she lived 5 months at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with a wounded husband, newborn son & 
3 1/2 year old Lucy 
(Lucy stayed with us part-time as well) ...
she founded the non-profit organization The General's Kids as a means to give back to our nation's little warriors as they live at military hospitals with their heroes 
(her own children are the inspiration of TGK) ...

TGK at AUSA in Washington, DC

she advocated for the 2 years following 'Joe's release from WR for his medical treatments that she knew was necessary in his recovery & rehabilitation 
(many times to have doors shut closed on her but she never gave up) ... 
she keeps track of 'Joe's medical appointments, medicine schedules and therapies 
(so she is basically his non-medical assistant) ...

Walter Reed family reunion just a week after 'Joe was WIA.

 she will begin homeschooling Lucy in just a few days for Kindergarten 
(she coordinates Lucy's log-ins, instructional videos & assignments through the online program) ...
she is Tag's best friend and comforter 
(he is very attached to his Mommy) ...

Tag is his Mommy's protector.

 she finds time to call her Grandma & Grandpa no matter how busy her day 
(she shares a special relationship with my parents since she was born) ...
she taught herself to crochet within a few days time
(as much as I wanted to teach her when she was younger, she had actually taught herself to knit during that time) ...

Just a few of her projects as she was "learning" to crochet.
  she quilts 
(has projects lined up for Lucy & Tag's "keepsake" clothing) ...
she paints, she writes 
(unpublished books are waiting in the wings) ...

Both our girls benefit from art therapy.
she cooks, she creates, she sews
she's a photographer, she's a designer

she is the glue that holds her family together

Making a snow day as normal as possible for Lucy just after she received word of the explosion.

But ...
it's not because of all she does that makes me proud of her ...
it's because of who she is ...

she is a God-chaser ...
she lives her life in the center of His will ... 
she allows Him to be her guide throughout anything life brings ...

She is mine & Dan's one and only child ... 
We are so proud of her and thankful that God chose us to be her parents.

We've walked alongside our daughter & her family through many circumstances.  Although we may not know exactly what she goes through in their journey, please say special prayers for her & her family -- as well as all of our military families & our wounded warrior families.  Each member brings a unique sacrifice as they serve our country as a family.  Spouses waiting on phone calls yet dreading "that" call -- but holding their breath to make it to the end of the day without "that" visit to inform them ... 
Children not completely understanding "why" their parent (or both) are away from home -- but these kids teach us about true patriotism to our country.

Little did this young bride know the journey that was ahead.

Our daughter is our hero ...
when God gave her to us --
our family was complete.

So, this Mommy may not brag about her daughter as often as I should but ... 

my daughter is an awesome young lady!

Easter 2014 -- our daughter & her family.