I’m Celebrating!

Today is a happy day for me!

Today I am exploring the western side of Michigan along Lake Michigan.  We have a hotel in the middle between Ludington and Traverse City Michigan.  What a beautiful area!  The lake, rivers, sand dunes, beaches, quaint shops and restaurants!

My heart rejoices because we are celebrating 35 years of marriage.

What a great love story we have.


Although Paul knew in his heart that I was the answer to his prayer, he still was nervous about asking me to marry them.  We both had two children (Paul had four but the two oldest were already grown adults and on their own) – three of whom were teenagers.  Blended families could be a difficult thing.  I think he was also afraid of rejection as his first wife had walked away from their marriage after 20+ years.

So he had to build up his courage.

He took me on a picnic to Pere Marquette Park in Grafton Illinois.  Several times that day he hinted at a more serious relationship, then before I could reply, he backed away.

A few weeks later he brought me a bouquet of flowers and took me to a nice restaurant.  All evening I kept thinking he would now talk about a deeper commitment between us.  But nothing happened.  The next night he showed up again with another bouquet of flowers and again took me out to a nice restaurant.  Again, I waited all through dinner for a more serious conversation – but nothing happened.


My thoughts were that this relationship was going nowhere fast.

But when we got to my apartment he asked if we could sit in the car and talk for awhile.  What a surprise!  He not only asked to take our relationship to a more serious level, he asked me to marry them.

During the 20 minutes or so this conversation took, our children who were inside my apartment kept turning the porch light on and off.  Believe me you have not courted until you do with four kids watching your every move!

So we were married.



Since we both believed that God had brought us together – both as a couple and as a family, we wanted to emphasize that God would be the foundation of our new family right from the start.

After we said our vows, we had our children join us and we took communion together as a family.



Was it easy blending two families together?  No!  There were difficult moments.  Paul and I each had different parenting styles.  I had two girls, but I had no idea what to do with a son – and a teenage son at that.

But we stuck with each other and God made us a family.


left to right:  my youngest daughter, Jessica; my oldest daughter, Rebekah; Paul’s youngest daughter and son, Maria and Will

From this blended family we now have twenty grandchildren (three who are deceased) and nine great grandchildren.

Looking back over these past 35 years, my heart rejoices in the blessings God has given Paul and I.

For those of you who follow my blog, you can be sure I will be posting lots of pictures when I get back home of this beautiful area.







The Call We Didn’t Want – Can’t Forget!

It has been four years since we got that call – but the memory is still fresh in our minds.

After that phone call I stopped blogging for several months.  But finally, I realized that is not what Keith would have wanted.  Today – we still remember not just that terrible phone call – but we recall the memories we have.

For my husband the memories are multiple.  Keith was his first born.  Named Paul Keith he was known to all but the family as Paul – but to us he was Keith.


Paul’s oldest son, Paul Keith Lane with his sister, Loretta

I did not meet Keith until a few months after I married his father.  Keith was 24 at that time.   Paul’s daughter, Loretta, was very ill and in the hospital.  Paul had flown down immediately to be with her.  I waited until our son, Will, could get home from college so we could fly down together.  At the Dallas airport I asked them to page Paul Lane to meet us at the main terminal.  I was quite surprised when Keith walked up and said “I’m Paul Lane.”  What a way to meet your step-son.

But step-son is not a word I like when talking of Keith.  I came to love him as my own and I’ll never forget the day he asked if he could call me “Mom.”  Memories of all the times he came to visit and the close relationship we were able to build are mine to treasure forever..  He loved to cook and when he would visit he always made the best potato salad in the world.


We had a red bud tree planted near his grave in his memory.


Here is what I wrote when I began blogging again.


Unexpected, Unwanted Call

I last posted on my blog in April. While we were on vacation, we got that unwanted, unexpected phone call in the night. A police officer called to tell us that our son had been found dead in his apartment. While we knew he was not in good health (a disabled veteran) and would probably not live to be an old man, we still did not expect to be planning his funeral. As my husband sadly said, “No one should bury their own child.” Yet, we know that many do – some burying their children at a much younger age than our son.

I stopped blogging

At times of great grief, your world seems to come to a halt. My husband and I are great Scrabble nuts as I shared before in

Confessionns of a Scrabble Addict  (https://barblaneblog.com/2015/02/22/confessions-of-a-scrabble-addict/) .

But suddenly we no longer wanted to play. It was as if continuing with our favorite game was somehow to make his death seem unimportant. Every time I sat down to blog, I could not decide on a subject. Should I continue to write about the silly, every-day part of my life. How could I do that when I’m supposed to be grieving? Should I continue to write on more serious subjects. I just did not have the heart for that. So – I stopped blogging.

But the world does NOT stop turning. 

But, even if we would like it to, the world does not stop turning.  Life goes on – and that is a good thing.  While we will always miss and grieve the loss of our son, we are so blessed with other children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  We do no service to his memory to stop loving life.

Let the games begin – the blogging continue

So – tonight we are going to play a game of Scrabble and I am returning to my writing.


When a Stepson Becomes a Son


 Oh my!  A teenage boy!

He was 15 when he came into my life.  A young widow with two young daughters, I knew nothing about raising little boys and certainly nothing about raising teenage boys.  But when I married my husband we had an agreement:  Take me – take my kids!

We started our journey together as friends.  He had a great sense of humor and was a  loving young man.  During the time his father and I were dating he would often come down to my house after school just to “hang out” with me and my daughters.  He loved to play board games, especially Monopoly.  I enjoyed his company and looked forward to being his mother.

Then I was married!

Suddenly I was a stepmother!  Spending a couple of hours three or four times a week with a young teenage boy is not the same as living with him 24/7.  Surprised and a little disappointed after a month under the same roof with this energetic male version of a teenager, I began to wonder if we could change our rule of “take me, take my kids!”

It wasn’t that I did not like the young man – it was just I did not know how to handle a teenage boy.  I know it is politically correct to say male and females are equal.  Equal – yes – the same – no.

How difficult is it to remember to take out the garbage?

It didn’t help that his father and I had totally different parenting styles.  My husband, Paul, was more “laid back” when it came to following the rules.  I was the “do it because I said to do it” kind of parent.

I assigned chores to both my girls and to Will, trying to be fair.  Wanting to be the “good” step-mother and win his love, I actually demanded less of him than I did my daughters.  One chore was to take out the garbage every week on the day of the garbage collection.  Week after week I would get so frustrated when I would discover after the kids went off to school he had not done that.  While taking the garbage cans out to the curb, I would mutter under my breath, “What is so hard about remembering this chore?”

When I would complain to his father – and his father to him – what would be his excuse?  “I forgot.”  Now beyond frustration – into full anger, I told his father there were ways to help him remember.  My suggestion:

Every time he “forgot,” he would have to give us the keys to the car he drove back and forth to school.  I assured my husband – a couple of weeks without the car, his memory would suddenly improve.

And miraculously it did!  We still laugh about this and a few years ago he called me to share that his son now seemed to have the same problem of forgetfulness.

He was not constantly behaving badly.  He and I just had a different idea of what it meant when on a Saturday morning I said, “Clean your room.”  My idea was he would immediately go clean his room.  His idea was he would play music, write a letter, take a walk and when he got around to it, he would clean his room.

We’ll never be mother and son – well “maybe”!


I would be so frustrated and angry – sure that he and I would never be mother and son.  Then, he would come into the room and tell me a joke (and I would have to laugh) or share a song he felt certain I would love (and I would) or just want to talk to me in a serious manner sharing his fears, his hopes and dreams – and I would begin to feel the love and affection a mother has for her son.

But you’re not really my mother!

I think it was very hard for him also.  His mother was still living although she shared no part in his life.  So – he struggled with his feelings for me.  He also started our relationship as friends but as time passed, he began to feel love for me also.  Torn between the love he was beginning to experience toward me and the fear he felt that he should not let me take the place of his mother in his heart, he vacillated between reaching out in love to me and pushing me away.

So we danced!


We danced back and forth in our relationship.  Feeling close, then feeling at odds with each other.  Enjoying our time together, hating our time together.  Feeling accepted by the other one, feeling rejected.  For a long time we did this little dance!

Shared experiences

  • He graduated from high school – I baked him a special cake. 
  • He went off to college – I helped him move into the dorm. 
  • He went into the USAF – I prayed for him.
  • My husband and I went to the Philippines as missionaries – he prayed for us. 
  • We moved to a new location when we returned and became pastors again – he helped us with the long distance move.
  • He married and began a family – I fell in love with “my” grandkids.
  • I got breast cancer – he dropped everything and came running with his wife to me.


Somehow it happened!

During all those times of shared experiences, it happened!  He became “my” son.  Slowly, without really realizing it, he was mine!  I enjoyed his company, his sense of humor which I came to realize was just like his father’s.  In fact, as I came to know both my husband and my son better, I realized that Will was so like his father.  Will shared so many of the fine qualities that had attracted me to my husband.

Watching him with his wife, his children, I was so proud of the young man he was.


He loves me too!

And somewhere along the way, he realized it was okay to love me as his mother.  He made me so happy the day he told me his wife reminded him of me – that he had seen a lot of my qualities in her.  There could not be a great compliment!

Now we dance a new dance!

How thankful I am that Paul and I agreed – “Take me – take my kids!”   It took commitment from both Will and myself to change this stepmother/stepson relationship into mother/son.  Because we were willing to keep trying to make our relationship work, because we were committed to be a family, to forgive each other’s mistakes and be patient with each other, we now dance a dance of love!

He’s OUR son!

When people who know this is a second marriage for me ask, “Whose son is Will?” I tell them “He’s OUR son!”

I’m so thankful I don’t have a stepson – I have a son!