Getting Started on My New Year Resolution

I’m not really one to make new year’s resolutions but this year I have said I want to write more consistently and also to add to the blogs I now follow.

new year

So, how am I doing?  Well- it’s is now the 4th of the month and I am just now starting to write again.  Funny how our best intentions can get sidetracked by life itself.

Today I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon (going to have to have a knee replaced).  The doctor’s office is in the state capital about 20 miles from our home.  Since we are new to the state, we got up very early to give ourselves time to find the office.

My husband went out to warm up the car and found we had a flat tire.  By the time we got it fixed it was too late to keep my appointment.

flat tire

But God is good – our insurance covered the cost of getting the tire changed so my husband could drive it to a repair shop.  They found a screw in the tire, fixed it and aired up all the tires.  When my husband asked what the charge was, the owner said “Just buy your tires from me when you need new ones.”

The surgeon’s office has a policy of charging a $50 fee if you do not give 24 hours notice for cancelling.  But they were understanding and did not charge me for the cancellation.  Finally, I was afraid I would have to wait several weeks to get a new appointment, but I’m scheduled for next Friday.

This is good because I have had to really talk myself into making this appointment.  I had one knee replaced 3 1/2 years ago and have had nothing but problems since.  That plus the fact that it is the most painful thing I have ever experienced, I have put off this day as long as I can.  Now my courage needs to be built up again this week to keep that appointment next week.

scared

So – reading new writers will give me something to keep my mind occupied and I’m sure I will find some new blogs to follow.  Several ideas are going through my mind and I hope to start actually writing them tomorrow.

In the meantime, I would like to share four blogs that I have been following closely the last few months.  They are great writers and I recommend you take a look.

https://becominghistapestry.com/

http://fracturedfaithblog.com

http://beautybeyondbones.com

http://parentingisfunny.wordpress.com

Check these out and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Past – Laughing Through the Tears

Recently I posted a blog on my memories of my favorite Christmas gift ever.  After posting that I have found myself awake in the middle of the night thinking of other Christmas memories.  Seems this first post has now led to more.

Christmas Past – My Best Christmas Present Ever

In my second post I shared how my future husband proposed to me on Christmas Day 1968.  We had thirteen wonderful years together and were blessed with two beautiful daughters.

One of the memories that came to me in the middle of the night was a Christmas that was lonely and difficult.  In March of 1982 my husband (whose proposal I wrote about in a previous post) was killed in an accident.

Christmas Past – I Said “Yes”

This was the first Christmas my young daughters and I spent without him.  Although it has been 36 years since that Christmas I can close my eyes and still feel the pain, the deep unspeakable sense of being alone.

But along with these sad thoughts comes one that makes me smile.

That year a friend had given my youngest daughter a book for Christmas that brought us some laughs.  Called the “Ugly Joke Book,” it had the usual jokes like:

  • Beauty is only skin deep …but ugly goes all the way to the bone!
  • I was such an ugly kid. When I played in the sandbox the cat kept covering me up.
  • You know you’re ugly when it comes to a group picture and they hand you the camera.

In this day of PC I suppose these jokes would not be appropriate to many.  That Christmas night, seeing the sad faces of my little girls, I was determined to not let their Christmas night end in terrible sadness.  Out came the book.  I had us all get in our pajamas, climb into bed and read the jokes.  Some of the jokes were funny, others not so much.  But I laughed at each one as if it was the funniest thing in the world.  After reading the book and staying up way past their bed time, I laid with them asleep in my arms and thanked God that in the midst of sorrow, if we look for it, we can also find joy.

daughters

We had spent Christmas Eve with our extended family.  We were made so sad because during the entire day no one said anything about our husband/father.  It was as if he had never existed; as if his absence was of no importance to anyone.  Before returning home, I expressed my hurt to my older sister.

I think I made her cry as she explained they had all agreed not to mention his name because they were afraid of causing us pain.  They thought they were doing the kind thing.  Sadly they had not.

So – if you have family or friends who have lost a loved one this year – or really any time in the past – don’t be afraid to mention them.  Say how you miss them.  Share memories you have of them.

God has blessed us and He brought a good man into our lives a few years after this Christmas and my daughters have married and have a family.  Our Christmas this year will not be lonely and we are happy.

But we will always remember this wonderful man that made that Christmas one to remember.  And in the midst of our celebration, our thoughts will remember dear, dear Lonnie Lott.

missing

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Past – I Said “Yes”

Christmas always brings memories of the past as I reflect on all the years that have passed.  I remember:

  • The little wooden ornaments I painted for my little girls that they now hang on their trees.
  • The Christmas plate three of my grandchildren painted for me.
  • The live Christmas tree my husband and I purchased the first year of my marriage and how our son planted that tree in the front yard.  How quickly it grew and how sad it was when we drove by the house years later and saw the new owner had cut it down.

One special Christmas remains in my heart forever – Christmas of 1968.

My boyfriend had just completed basic training at the USMC base in San Diego, California and was coming home on Christmas Eve.  He was traveling home by bus and his parents were going to call me as soon as he let them know he was at the bus station in St. Louis.  They would then swing by and pick me up and we would go to get him.

Lonnie

It was late when the call finally came and I was so excited!  After we picked him up at the bus station we hurried to his home where his eight brothers and sisters were anxiously waiting to see him.

By the time the family reunion was over it was early morning Christmas Day and Lonnie got the keys to the family car to drive me home.  Sitting in the car before I went inside he asked me to marry him.

I said YES!

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Sadly, the wedding would not be for a while as he was headed to Vietnam shortly after the New Year.

The holidays were both happy, but sad.  So good to be together, to celebrate our engagement.  So sad to face the months ahead of separation and danger for him.  Would he survive the war?  Would we really be married?

This Christmas I think of all the service men and women who are far from home protecting our country and of their family – parents, spouses, children — who will have an empty spot at their table.

If you know someone who is serving overseas, send them a card and let them know you are thinking of them.  If you know a family who has a member who will be absent this year at the festivities, give them a call.  Encourage them and share your appreciation of the sacrifice both they and their family member are making for us.

My story had a happy ending.  After 13 months my Marine returned home and we were married.

 

Christmas Past – My Best Christmas Present Ever

This will be my 71st Christmas.  In that time I have been given a lot of Christmas presents.

Christmas gifts

  • Some I loved
  • Some I pretended to like but really did not
  • Some were expensive
  • Some were not so expensive
  • Some were store-bought
  • Some were homemade
  • Some shown that the giver had really put a lot of time and love into the gift
  • Some looked like the giver had just grabbed something off the shelf at the last-minute

But every year as I reflect on Christmas past there is one gift that stands out to me.  It was the best Christmas gift I ever received.

It is also the first Christmas I remember.  I was five years old and I believed in Santa Claus.  There were two gifts I was hoping he would bring me:  a doll and a toy stove with some dishes.

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Although I never felt our family was poor, looking back I realize we certainly were not affluent.  We lived in a three-room house – Mom and Dad, two sisters a brother and me.  I was the baby.  Mom and Dad shared the one bedroom and my sisters and I had beds in the kitchen.  Fortunately the kitchen was very large so the stove, refrigerator and table was at one end and our beds at the other.  My brother slept on a roll-away bed that we opened at night and put in the pantry just off the kitchen.

Looking back I think how hard it must have been to try to buy the presents we four children were hoping for.  How they must have agonized over not having enough money to buy all they would have liked to buy for us.

Christmas Eve my dad took me with him to my grandmother’s house where he added coal to her heating stove and set the fire for the night.  When we returned home I discovered Santa Claus had come.  So excited, I opened my one present and found the doll I had requested.  Looking around I realized there was not a second present for me.  There would be no toy stove and dishes.  My doll was so pretty and I slept happily that night holding her close.

stove

The next day my parents explained to me that Santa Claus had so many kids to buy for and he did not have enough money to get everything on everyone’s list.  However, my dad said he and my mother had a surprise for me.  They had a toy stove for me with some dishes.

Dad brought out the stove.  He had taken a cardboard box, turned it upside down and drew burners on the top.  He then cut out small openings in the front and had put in some little wooden knobs that were painted red, yellow and blue for me to use to turn on the burners.  He also had an oven door painted on the side and cut so that I could open and put in a pan.  Mom had rummaged though her pots and pans and found some older ones that I was able to use.

I was one happy little girl!  I had my very own stove and dishes.

Today I realize most little girls would be upset with such a gift.  But to me it was a treasure.  As I have grown old, the memory of that gift has increased in value.

As a parent trying to make ends meet I realize how much love had gone into their decision to make that gift for me, how much they must have hated that they could not give me a real toy stove and dishes.

Of all the gifts I have received over the years, none mean as much to me as that gift coming from my parents’ heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for My “Forever Home”

My husband and I love to watch HGTV.  Many of the programs show clients who say they are looking for their “forever home.”  A place where they can put down roots and raise a family.  A place where they can make memories to last a lifetime.

hgtv

That sounds so good.  To have a place where you live for all your adult life, maybe even living there until you die.

I have never had a “forever home.”  Several times I thought I had found it only to have it slip away.

My first “forever home” was a mobile home situated on three acres in the country in southeast Missouri.  My first husband and I purchased the place, not for the run down mobile home, but for the beautiful land.  It set on a hill overlooking the farm land around it.  There was a small pond at the back of the property.  We made such plans to build our “forever home” there.  We would have a garden and there was enough land to have a horse for our girls and perhaps raise a calf to butcher later for beef.  There were fish in the pond and that would provide some fun time for my husband to spend with his girls.  We spent the winter looking at different house designs and planning just where on the property we would build the house.  Just waiting for spring trying to survive the cold, bitter winter in the mobile home which let in the cold air.  At one point our water pipes froze and we had to go out in the cold and pump water from a well, bring it in and warm it up.  But it was okay because come spring we would have our “forever home.”

house plans

NOT

But two days after spring came, my dream of a “forever home” was destroyed.  My husband was killed in an accident.  Instead of beginning to laid the foundation for our home, I buried my husband.  Without him, I did not have the heart or the ability to make that dream of a “forever home” come true.  So – I moved back to Illinois to be near my family.

After a couple of years, I met another wonderful man and remarried.  We bought a house that I thought would be my “forever home.”  The upstairs was finished with two large bedrooms and a beautiful dining room with large windows looking on a back yard bordered by large trees.  My husband set to work and quickly built three bedrooms for our children in the walk-out basement.  All that remained to make our home complete was to finish a family room in the main part of the basement which  also had large glass doors looking out on the  back yard.

NOT

Before we got the family room finished, we answered a call to sell our home and go to the Philippines to work in a college in Iloilo.  Selling our home and our possessions was a difficult decision to make and even harder was leaving our son who was about to graduate from Illinois College and was getting married that summer.  We also left a daughter and son-in-love with two little babies under two years old.

Off we went to a new home in a new country – a home that would not be a “forever home.”

Phil

After returning to the USA again I thought I had found my “forever home.”  It was a smaller home than the one we had before, but in a nice neighborhood with a fireplace – something I had always wanted.   My husband went to work and built a deck on the back of  the house and began planting some beautiful flowers.  Finally I would have a place to put down roots.

NOT

After two years my husband received a call to become a pastor at a church in northwest Illinois.  So – house on the market – off we went.

This time we would not be buying a “forever home.”  The church had a parsonage and we would live there.  I thought maybe some day when my husband retired I would have my own home again.

After seven years in the parsonage with my husband nearing retirement age we decided to buy our own home.  Living in a parsonage is not an easy thing to do.  It is not your house and you have to get approval from others if you want to make anything extensive changes.  Since it is not your own house you hesitate to spend a lot of your own money making improvements and so you depend on the church board to see the need for improvements (not always an easy thing to do).

Getting our own home was so exciting for me.  Finally, I would have my “forever home” and be able to fix it as I wanted.  We did a lot of work to that home.  We took up carpet and put down beautiful laminate floors.  We added a sun room.  We bought all new appliances and a new furnace and AC unit.  My husband planted a beautiful hosta garden in the back yard with over 200 hostas plants along with roses, lilies of the valley, flowering trees.  At last I had it – my “forever home.”  We would stay here as he finished his years as pastor and then enjoy the home in our retirement.

NOT

It almost worked out that way.  We lived here for seventeen years – the most I have ever lived in one house.  It seemed perfect.

But then – our youngest daughter accepted a position as a pastor in central Michigan.  She and her husband moved taking our youngest granddaughter with them.  The rest of our children were scattered all over the USA and we were now going to be left with no family nearby.  At our age (I’m 70 and my husband is 78) we did not like the idea of no one close to spend holidays with or call on if we needed help.  And although we do not love this granddaughter more than the rest of our grandchildren, she is the youngest.  The majority of our grandchildren are grown or at least teenagers.  Zoe at only seven still thinks coming to Papa and Grandma’s house is an exciting event.  So – you got it.

We said to goodbye to our “forever home” and headed north to Michigan.  This time we are renting a house.  Not knowing the area well, we did not want to purchase a home immediately.  At our age we are not even sure we want to buy a house now.  Easier to just call the landlord if something goes wrong and no yard maintenance for us to do.

So now I realize that I will not have my “forever home” in this life.  But that has got me to really thinking.

I’m nearer now than ever to what will be the best “forever home” I can possibly have.  I love the words that Jesus spoke just before He went to the cross.

“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am.”

While I’m not ready to take up residence just yet in that place Jesus has prepared for me, I treasure the thought that there is a “forever home” waiting for me.

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from….Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home?    C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

 

 

Conversations with Grandkids

Thanksgiving – a time with family.  Over the years the family gathering has gotten smaller as kids grow up, move away, have kids of their own.  But at this time of year I always remember some of the great interactions with my grandchildren.

There was Robert:No automatic alt text available.

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Growing up Robert loved to talk.  I always tried to give him my undivided attention.  Picking him up after school one day, I had a stressful day at work and all I wanted was some quiet time.  As soon as he got in the car, he began talking away non-stop.  Our conversation went like this:

ME:  Robert, Grandma has had a busy day and I just need some quiet time.  I really am not up to giving you my attention and listening.

ROBERT:  That’s okay Grandma.  You don’t have to listen.  I just want to talk.

And Abby:

 

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Sitting on our kitchen counter making cookies with her Aunt, Abby was chattering away non-stop (does talking a lot run in my family?).  Her grandpa came in the kitchen and gave her “the look.”  She responded:

ABBY:  Am I aggravating you Grandpa?

GRANDPA:  As a matter of fact, you are.

ABBY:  Good!

Then Matthew:

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The one that makes me still laugh so much is the conversation we had with Matthew after he came home from kindergarten roundup.

ME:  Matthew, what do you think?  Are you going to like going to school?

MATTHEW:  It is going to be great.

ME:  What do you think is going to make it great?

MATTHEW:  All the girls are going to love me!

These 3 are all grown up now (I just posted the pictures of them that I love best).

But our youngest granddaughter, Zoe, has given us some of the funniest conversations.

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ZOE:  Grandma, tell me a story about Jesus when He was a boy.

ME:  Okay.  When Jesus was a little boy.

ZOE:  No, Grandma.  Say “Once upon a time.”

And the one my husband loves the most is when she was only three years old.  Waiting for our food at a restaurant my husband excused himself to use the restroom.  As he was halfway between our table and the men’s room Zoe calls out in a loud voice:

ZOE:  Grandpa, it’s the one with “M” on the door.

Grandchildren, what a blessing.  Tomorrow I will miss being with most of them.  Living in Michigan, I have grandchildren in Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Tennessee and Missouri.

But my memories will keep me laughing.

And since Zoe will be at my house, I’m certain we will have some more interesting conversations to remember.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  If you are with family, enjoy and make lots of new memories.  If you cannot be with family, remember and treasure those times you had.

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Hello St Johns

Moving from an area with a population of over 380,000     to a small town of less than 8,000 is quite a change.

Last month my husband and I said goodbye to the Quad Cities.

Goodbye Quad Cities

We have spent this last month learning all about our new home in the middle part of Michigan (lower peninsula) – St Johns.

As someone who loves trees, the tree-lined streets are so beautiful, especially this time of year as the leaves all turn glorious colors of yellow, orange and red.  In the Quad Cities I could find areas of trees here and there but not like in St. Johns.  Just driving to the grocery store, Wal-Mart, the post office – there is no where I can go in the town without beauty all around me.

The town has such charm as historic, turn-of-the-century homes line many of the streets.  In the neighborhood where I live the houses are not set right on top of each other as they were in my old neighborhood.

While enjoying small town charm, friendly neighborhoods we are only 30 minutes from the capital, Lansing, so if I get too bored, there is the big city close by.

St Johns is surrounded by agriculturally rich land known for raising mint.   The growing of spearmint and peppermint is unique to this area, using the rich black soil that prevails. Mint farming began with a two-acre crop of peppermint in 1913. The county ranks first in the production of mint in Michigan, with approximately 5,000 acres of mint farmed. Each year the mint farming heritage is celebrated at the “St. Johns Mint Festival”. The Festival is a weekend long celebration of activities for all age groups which attracts over 60,000 people to the City.

For its size, St. Johns offers many amenities that enhance the quality of life for residents. “Points of pride” for City residents include:

  • Concert in the Park series of weekly musical performances in the summer
  • The historic Wilson Center Auditorium which hosts rock concerts, open-mic nights and theatrical productions throughout the year
  • Farm Market located in Court House Parking Lot during growing season
  • Old US Route 27 Motor Tour with classic cars

I also wondered if there would any really good places to eat.  THERE IS!

Main Street Cafe – great food and even great homemade pies – especially our favorite coconut cream pie.

pie

And the greatest thing is the friendliness.  Back home walking down the sidewalk everyone seemed to avoid making eye contact.  Sometimes I would smile and say hi.  Often the response I would get was “Did you just speak to me?  Are you some kind of nut?”

So great to walk down the sidewalk and everyone you meet smiles and says hi and might even stop and talk for awhile.

So – the verdict is in – I’m a happy resident of a small town – St. Johns, Michigan.