Health - Part 1

I say part 1 because who knows what's going to be coming from my visit with Dr. H. this morning.  Blood work - 4 tubes worth and a urine test later, I'll probably be told I'm diabetic and be looking at a whole host of tests, appointments, diet consultations, blood draws...  I often hate that I love food and hate exercise.  And I'm lazy.

So... there it is.  Day 1.  Let's see what the blood tests show.  I'm guessing super-high glucose, high cholesterol and a few other great do-dads...

Oh, joy.


Christmas is Coming

One more full day of work, one weekend day and then... Christmas.  Our first without my mother and the difference that makes is palpable.  It has been pretty overwhelming.  So many things I've wanted to call her to share and I can't.  I talk to her quite a bit but that never really made too much sense to me.  I know that's an exercise to make me feel better so it doesn't work as well as it could, I guess.  She is definitely doing something infinitely better than fighting traffic around the mall this Christmas.  That does bring a great deal of peace and for that I am incredibly grateful.  The hardest part, probably, is this "secret" desire I have to be with her instead of here...  Don't get me wrong - I'm not suicidal but I do look around at all of what happens at this time of the year and I always ask the same question:  "Why do we do all that we do for one day a year that doesn't have anything to do with what we do?"

It strikes me - my traditions are off, my priorities out of whack.  Why DON'T I do a bunch of stuff for one day a year that DOES have something to do with said one day?  Every year I say I'm going to do an advent wreath and then... I don't.  Every year I say I'm going to give more time to the homeless and every year?  I don't.  I do the Spirit of Christmas luncheon at my church and that's traditionally been it.   This year my Lifegroup is also started serving at our church food bank two times a month so I'm doing that tonight (and served back on the 8th) but... that's still only scratching the surface of my plan.  It has always been my intention to think of something through the year, look into how I can implement it and go for it.  Still hasn't happened...

I did grave blankets this year.  That is probably what pushed me a bit over the edge.  Mom & I have done Nan's together for the last 5 years.  Then - this year I did Nan's.  And Mom's.  By myself.  All I could see what that last weekend with Mom.  WHEN will it end???

Admittedly, my last several posts have been a bit on the sad side.  Well...I am a bit on the sad side.  I wake up every morning hoping that knot has loosened enough to let me feel like me again.  So far, it has given me some wiggle room but it's always there - ready to tighten up and cut off my breathing without notice.  It makes motivation a difficult concept.  I have none.  I snap, I mutter, I forget EVERYTHING, I cry for no apparent reason... I can't stand listening to Christmas music and all of its chipperness this year.  Even "Do You Hear What I Hear" drives me crazy and c'mon...that's one of the best Christmas songs ever.  

I tried to watch White Christmas with Aaron the other night.  Almost threw something at the TV. 

You can tell me I'm depressed.  That may be true.  For the most part, though, I'm just a woman who has been smacked by a 2x4 a few times this year and I'm trying to figure out what it means to get up each morning and put one foot in front of the other.

Perhaps if I'm still this sad next year I should be worried...

Can you tell I won't be unhappy when Monday arrives?

My joy isn't reliant upon my circumstances.  I keep telling myself that.  I'm also doing everything I can to think on what is true, noble, righteous, good...  I keep telling myself that Mom is in heaven.  Heaven.  I shouldn't be sad - I should be thrilled for her.  And a good part of me is.  It's that warring selfish side I have to battle that is wearing me down, I think. 

January 1 is 10 days away.  Come January 1 I'm going to treat this blog like a journal.  I'm going to have up days and down days and I'm going to record my thoughts and feelings.  Some days it'll be word vomit.  Other days?  Nothing.  But I'm going to try to pour it all out, sort it all through and with God's help - come out of it knowing who the new me is. 

Could be an interesting ride...  Secrets could spill. 

Well.  It could happen...



How does one handle the death of a child?  How does one approach the parents?  What can I possibly say to people who are aching with a pain I can't even begin to imagine?  What do they need?   What does God want us to do for them?

Today I learned that friends of mine had to take their 8 year old daughter off of life support.  She had been diagnosed with ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), a blood disorder in August.  A risk with ITP is blood clots.  She developed one, in her brain. 

Eight years old. 

Christmas will never be the same again for this family.  Life will never be the same again for this family.  What can a person do?  Say?  My heart is absolutely shattered and I can't begin to imagine what they are feeling. 

I can't even think to write. 


On My Mind Today

Woe to them
     because they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them,
     because they have rebelled against me!
I long to redeem them
     but they speak lies against me.
They do not cry out to me from their hearts
     but wail upon their beds.
They gather together for grain and new wine
     but turn away from me.
I trained them and strengthened them,
     but they plot evil against me.
They do not turn to the Most High;
     they are like a faulty bow.
Their leaders will fall by the sword
     because of their insolent words.

~Hosea 7:13-16a


Convicting Thought

I don't know if you Facebook or not or how often you look at your Facebook but lately it seems the big rage is to post a picture of a quote, or a joke or some other cartoon from various people.  Some of them are hilarious, others - not so much.

When I first started seeing these things pop up, posted by almost everyone I know (and a few of them re-posted by me, I admit), this one quote caught my attention and I've been thinking about it ever since:

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?  (source:  voicesforlife.net)

It got me thinking:  How is that for a bit of conviction?  I thank God every day for all He has blessed me with but how often have I been specific? 

So, in the last couple of weeks, I've tried to be more concious not only of the blessings God has given me but how I thank Him for them.  I name them.  I stop when a new one appears and I thank Him immediately. 

I wonder where it will lead.


To Ponder Today...

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

~1 Timothy 1:8-17


It occurs to me...

A friend & I were talking about haircuts and color the other day.  She had been talked into lightening up her hair the last time she was getting her hair cut because lightenend hair makes "older" women look younger... 

And she hates it.

So it got me thinking.  Exactly what makes someone an expert on changing the looks of someone else and making them look "better."

After all...

God made man on day 6.  AFTER He had created everything else.

He created every creature - on the earth, in the sea and in the air...  every color, every size and every shape.

And He never once consulted a man (or woman) to get their opinion.

Maybe, when we're sitting in a chair, we're consulting the wrong "expert."

Miracle Upon Miracle

Read this morning:  two week old infant pulled from the rubble in Turkey - alive.  Not only alive but later, at the hospital to which she was taken, declared healthy. AND...her mother and grandmother were also rescued, alive and well.

Remember the 4 month old baby rescued from the tsunami debris?  Read about her here.

I will probably never know why some survive and some do not but I will take hope from those who are found...  Hope.  Always, always hope!

Enjoy today's miracles.


An Anniversary... of sorts

Two years ago today my sister and I sat with my mother, mentally holding hands if not physically, waiting for my mother's doctor to come in the room and explain the pathology report.  We'd been waiting for the "official word" since getting such good news on the day of Mom's surgery. 

The doctor didn't disappoint.  Stage 1C.  Only stage C because the tumor ruptured either right as they were going in or shortly before.  It had a slightly "deflated" look the Doctor had told us, like a balloon losing air.  It meant instead of Stage 1A, she'd be a C. 

My mom was still a bit stunned about all of it and not quite believing "good" news was at hand.  Should we have been more pushy?  Should we have advocated my mother get a second opinion, no matter how much she loved her doctor?  I don't know.  We'll never know.  The doctor who had so confidently told my mother "If we can cure anyone, we can cure you" has moved to Vermont.  Trust me - this is not a doctor bashing post.  We all liked my mother's doctor very much and still strongly believe she did every single thing she possibly could to battle my mother's cancer.  It doesn't stop the mind from running through a list of questions on occasion that it probably shouldn't, though.  We can't change the outcome now, we can only share what we have learned in the hopes that someone else in the same situation WILL ask the pushy questions, WILL advocate for that second opinion.

After all...

Nineteen months later we were burying the woman the doctor was so confident she could cure.  And hence I get to the reason for my post. 

October is breast cancer awareness month.  Did you know that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month?  No?  I didn't either - and my mother died of ovarian cancer.  I am aware of it now and I am starting to dabble in learning about this insidious disease that kills more women than are cured once diagnosed.  Few women diagnosed with ovarian cancer beat it.  Very few.  Too few.  I know - it is important to be aware of the risks of breast cancer, according to one article I read it is the 7th deadliest cancer.

I am also aware of the horrific agony a woman with ovarian cancer suffers.  My mother was a beautiful, vibrant, laugh so loud her laugh almost hurt your ears kind of person.  She would "go for a walk" that could take hours to finish.  She'd spend some of her free time shopping in different places and she almost never bought something for herself.  She'd spy something for someone else.  Always. 

As her cancer progressed, as the chemo ravaged her body even though it was almost totally useless, she became ashen and quiet, she almost never laughed.  You'd get a smile but rarely a laugh.  She spent the last few months of her life in her spot on the couch.  Barely able to move.  We'd make her get up and take a walk around the house.  Her reward?  A foot rub.  A woman who literally logged more miles walking in her lifetime than a dozen breast cancer race for the cure walkers would log in 5 years of walking had to be coerced to take a walk around her 1800 square foot ranch home. 

Where am I going with this post?  To this place.  I'm asking you to take some time, dig around - learn.  Ovarian cancer is often silent, with symptoms many women pass off as other ailments.  Progress is being made but it is oh so slow.  It's a year away but next September I plan to do thirty days of ovarian cancer awareness.  In the meantime, I'll write posts like this on occasion.

Cancer is ugly, no matter its type.  People lose their battle against cancer every day.  When we were going through this whole process I must have said a dozen times that I'm not the first person to lose my mother and I won't be the last.  However...if just one woman starts wondering a bit about that upset stomach that never seems to go away, tied to that embarrassing gas that seems to have a mind of its own...it will be wonderful.  If the statistics can be changed so the number of women who survive ovarian cancer becomes something other than appalling, it will be overwhelming.

And one last thing...if you have had your ovaries removed, please do not believe you do not need to watch out for gynecological cancers.  Read this.   


A Girl Can Dream

Ok...  I am no technological genius so inserting these pictures into my blog without getting myself arrested for copyright infringement or something isn't a skill I have as yet mastered.

So...  go here and see what I would oh so love to have in my backyard (make sure you click on the "inside" picture, too).  Imagine the happiest of happy dances and that would be me, lounging in such luxury and beauty...

Go ahead.  I'll wait.

Back?  See what I mean?  Did your leg start to twitch just a little bit?  Starting the happy dance, too?

Oh if only...  I mean - if I'm going to dream I might as well dream big, right? 


A Beautiful Giveaway

For anyone out there who is a lover of vintage dishes, beautiful tea towels, divine pillow covers and a whole lot of other gorgeousness...  head over to Jennifer Rizzo's blog and enter to win her lovely Vintage Tea Collection and Winter Nesting giveaway.

We're talking $400 worth of beautiful merchandise out of her store and an extra $100 gift certificate for jewelry.

For a look at the full Vintage Tea collection, click here.  Beautiful...

So as always?  Go.  Enter.  And please, please, please let me know if you win!!!  Good luck!


Learning Lessons

I learned something new yesterday and there are no pictures because I simply did not want to gross anyone out.

What I learned?  Never self-diagnose.  Back in 2002, I noticed a spot on my hand.  It was an annoying spot, all red and it would crack and bleed and then scab over with this lovely white crusty stuff.

I thought it was eczema and would put some Neosporin on it and cover it with a band-aid when it would get "out of hand."

Then sometime around the beginning of September, I read an article online about skin cancers and how to identify them.  Well, one of those big-name-scary-sounding-carcinoma's sounded and looked an awful lot like the  spot on my hand.

I was still pretty sure it was eczema BUT I decided after 9 or so years of it not spreading, not getting better and being generally annoying PLUS a friend of mine passed away in April of skin cancer, I should go get it looked at.

Yesterday was the day.  Popped into a dermatology office, met my new dermatologist (lovely lady, by the way) and she looked at it for about 5 minutes.  First?  The good news.  It does not present like skin cancer.

Did you hear my "WHEWWWWW"?

It does "present," though, like a big-ol-gobbley-gook of Latin terms & phrasing so it sounds important - wound.

Yup.  A wound.  That never healed.  Nine years I've been walking around with a glorified cut on my hand.  Dealing with the itching, the bleeding, investing in bucket-loads of Neosporin and what's the outcome?

Six weeks of some potent hand cream medication and that spot should disappear.

Notice I say should.  This doctor seems nice AND savvy...  she isn't saying anything about an absolute cure until it's cured.  She thought it a bit odd that I didn't injure my hand in any way and that the spot hasn't spread or gone away on its own in over 9 years.  So...if it's not gone in 6 weeks, I get to go back.

Because then it's not what she thinks it is...

Oh goody.  :)

I'm not even going to consider all of that, though.  I'm looking at it from the glass is 1/2 full this time.  Six weeks of applying some hefty cream to my hand and I'll be FREE.  FREE...  YAY!!!  No more pain, itching, bleeding...  Neosporin can go back to being in the medicine cabinet for my son, not me... 

That's what I'm talkin' about!!  Oh - and never self-diagnose!!



What a wonderful surprise I received yesterday when I was scrolling through the blogs I follow and read Melissa's (Made in the South) post.  I am humbled to be listed as one of the 15 blogs she chose to share The Versatile Blogger award with.  Thank you, Melissa.  It's an honor.  I have to admit - I was surprised at first but I haven't been able to ditch the smile it brought. 

The rules of the award are as follows:
1.  Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2.  Share 7 things about yourself.
3.  Send it to 15 other bloggers and let them know you awarded them.

So - first - 7 things about me:

1.  I can often be found in my pj's at 6PM.

2.  I grew up in New Jersey but don't have the accent.

3.  The jewler had to lay me down behind his counter the first time I got my ears pierced.  My mother & grandmother were with me and they were afraid I was going to pass out.

4.  My most favorite dinner in the winter is breakfast (French toast, pancakes, bacon, sausage - the works)

5.  I once talked to a prank caller for 2 1/2 hours.  He asked me if I would talk to an "obscene phone caller" and I told him only if he promised not to get obscene.  He asked for my phone number at the end of the call.  I declined to share it with him...but my friends all thought I should get my own 900#.  Clean, of course.

6.  I climbed a mountain when I was 7 months pregnant.  Never saw my father so angry in my life...

7.  When my son was 3 1/2 years old I put him in my Hyundai Excel and drove him from New Jersey to Washington State.  In 3 1/2 days.  He asked my father, when we called him from Montana, if his house was lost.  It was a long ride.

And then, I have to pick 15 bloggers to receive this award.  Hmmmm.... 

Heatheahlee @ Butterfly Genes

Peaches @ Aunt Peaches

Heidi @ The Red Dollar House

Patricia @ Jonesbones5

Kimberly L. Smith @ Life that Matters

Gary @ New Life'n

Deborah @ The Fairfield House

Jenni @ In Him Our Hearts Rejoice

Richella @ Imparting Grace

Leslie @ Pampers, Play Dates and Parties
Stephanie @  A Year of Slow Cooking

i58:10 media

I chose each blog here because I may not always agree with what is written but these people make me think.  Sometimes I'm simply entertained.  Sometimes I'm taught something new.  Other times?  I have to look deep and figure out what do I really believe... and why.  

Thank you again, Melissa.  I'm grateful for the award and for the opportunity to share these 15 bloggers.



Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

~2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

I have to keep relying on God to keep me strong because seriously, I can see the cracks in my veneer.  I have to keep hold of the hem of His robe because if I forget and let go with even just one finger, I start to crumble...

This grief, this grief that is like a rogue wave?  It threatens to wash me away every day.  I look around and see faces and know I am NOT the only one suffering with the loss of someone so close.  I think of those parents who have lost their children, babies...  I think of friends who have lost beloved sisters and brothers...  Loved ones who have lost a spouse (including my father).  And - I am not the only person I know who has lost a parent.

It is in that knowing that I resolve every day to not let that wave carry me away.  If they can do it, I can do it, too.

Truth is, though - I need the help that only the arms of Jesus can provide.  If He weren't holding me up, I wouln't care that everyone else can do it.  I'd crumble.  Melt.  Fall apart.  I wouldn't care about anything or anyone and I'd curl up in a self-pitying ball and just...stop functioning. 

Those are the thoughts swirling in my head.  So...as I face another onslaught from that stupid rogue wave, I turn my face heavenword and I cry out to the One who holds the world.  He holds me, too...


It's Fall!!

And one of my most favorite accessories for fall is a scarf.  So versatile.  So many choices.  There almost isn't an outfit you can come up with that can't carry off a scarf...somehow.  Maybe evening gowns...

But I digress.

Fall & winter has me wearing a scarf almost every day.  Can't do it in spring & summer, they're too warm for me but the moment it cools to 60 & the rain starts?  I'm wrapping them around my neck.  Was reading through my normal blog-roll today and came across this tutorial on Emily's blog.  It's fun to watch and now I have a go-to place when I want to change up how I'm tying my scarves!  Oh how I love the internet.  And fall!!!


Sunday Strength

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

~Psalm 121:1-2


Yummy, Yummy Dinner

I wrote several months ago of my attempts to whittle through many of the recipes I'd been collecting from many places.  Some of them went well, most of them did not.  My friends all know - and love - the fact that I will use them as guinea pigs with a new recipe.  About the only complaint they'll have is I didn't invite any of them over for tonight's experiments.  However, they can all be relieved to hear I'll be making these recipes again & again & again... all of them will, I am sure, get to enjoy them at some point.

Late last week, I was doing my normal blog surfing and came across this recipe when I checked in on Cathy over at Noble Pig.  There are not words to describe how incredible this chicken is.  Aaron has been pretty well ho-hum on almost every single recipe I've tortured him to try.  Not this one - for this one, he went back for seconds on the chicken.  Seconds.  I don't think he has done that on a single solitary recipe I've been trying out yet.  In a year or so of playing, this was a first.  Amazing.

The other thing I whipped up today was this Prosciutto and Tomato Crostini recipe from Room to Inspire

Both recipes are well worth your time and yummy beyond imagination.

Bon Appetit!


From Space

This looks absolutely amazing.  $65 is a bit more than I want to pay for a book right now but I'm pretty sure it's going on my Christmas wish list...

Gaia Book by Guy Laliberte

Of course, if I had a family of really rich people who didn't mind spending a ton of money on a book, I'd go with this version:

Gaia Ultimate Edition Book

I look at these pictures and I think...if I only had half the imagination God has...



I've always wanted to go.  I really intend to go (hopefully our 10th anniversary trip).  However...nothing has made me drool over going to France quite like the pictures my son took for me while he was there.

I have to give him this...he really knows what I like...

I know - you're wondering - why does a French cafe, some old doors & a bike advertising a cafe have me drooling over France?  Can't you feel it?   See it in the photos?  Imagine the romance... the blissfully peaceful walks all over the city, discovering beautiful little corners and amazing architecture just...everywhere? 

I can.


Hi, Mom

Dear Mom,

It's been three months since you went home.  I know it's a blink of an eye where you are, for me it has felt interminable.  Incapable of being terminated (obviously) and unending (at least until I get to join you).  If that's three months, what will 6 months be?  One year?  Two years?  After...

Saturday, too, marks 6 years since Nan passed away.  Perhaps it is that milestone, mixed with your recent loss that is the source of my melancholy because there really is no other word for it.  It's not just a sadness, it permeates.  It embarrasses me a bit, too because it is so strong right now and I feel like I should be stronger.  I don't want to talk about it too much, I don't want to sound whiny.  I've said it dozens of times and I'm sure I'll say it dozens more - I'm not the first person to lose my mother and I won't be the last.

Yet.  You were MY mother and I lost YOU.  At least here.  And I know - I get to see you again and you are with Jesus.  All of that brings me peace and comfort.  It really, really does.  But...and there is always the but.  I think about you at least two thousand times a day.  Some days 3000.  Since there are only 1,440 minutes in a 24 hour period, what does that tell you?

That peace and comfort?  While being the only thing that keeps me from falling into some abyss, it doesn't always remedy the grief immediately. 

For instance, it doesn't help when I'm reading two recipes for baked beans and neither one of them sounds quite like Nana's, I can't find Nana's recipe and I just want to ask you if you have it somewhere. 

It doesn't help when one of the guys at work says or does something funny - or stupid - or worse - and we can't head out to Olive Garden to giggle our way into being late back from lunch.

It doesn't help when I realize that one month from now would be the time for our annual trek to Leavenworth, stopping at The Alps to pick up Bavarian creme for Uncle John and then meandering through town for an entire Saturday, eating lunch at whichever random restaurant we wanted to try and dinner at The Bear. 

It doesn't help when I go through Christopher's pictures from France & England and know (with a knowing that aches) that you would have absolutely loved to pour over those pictures, detail by detail, with Christopher.  Asking him about each place - what it looked like, smelled like, what the people were like.

It doesn't help when I pass your picture 10 times a day at the office.  They hung it on the side of the refrigerator until someone bought a frame.  Every time I'd get a glass of water, I'd see you up there.  The guys were supposed to be buying a frame.  I gave up today and went shopping.  It helps in fighting the tears when I'm at the fridge.

It doesn't help when L and I try to communicate at work.  She doesn't always understand me.  You did.  Sometimes we didn't even have to talk in complete sentences.  I miss that a lot, several times a day.

It doesn't help when I'm out shopping and I see something I think one of the girls might like but I don't know if they have it already.  I go to call you and...

That Friday, that day when I tried to tell you just how big a part of me you are.  Did you grasp it at all?  Because, honestly?  I don't think I did you justice.  I don't think even I realized just how much a part of me you were.  If I had had any idea I was going to be this turned upside down, I don't think our conversation that last day would have gone quite the same.  The words "excruciating pain" would have been an understatement.

Mom, people tell me it gets easier.  I love you more than I can ever say and I don't mean any disrespect when I say this but I really hope they're right.  I'm not a very patient person, though and I'm also intensely selfish so I want to feel better NOW.  What I want is to always experience sweet memories, not this overwhelming wave of aching pain that washes over me whenever I see your picture or your handwriting or whatever else happens to come my way in reminding me you're not here. 

However did you survive losing Nan?  What was your secret?  What did you do?  Did you have a favorite memory?  See...questions only you can answer.  And yet...you can't.  Now I know why people say 'Come, Lord Jesus, Come.'  He is the joy and you... well... you are the added benefit.

I love you, Mom.  More than I ever got to tell you.  And I miss you.  More than you ever imagined I would.

Love always,


Sunday Strength

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? 
            Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

*Daily Drop Cap provided by Jessica Hische



Balloons we released after Mom's funeral
Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about my mother.  Mom passed away in May and I did a pretty good job of holding myself together through everything - the funeral, wrapping up her "business," cleaning up her closet & room.  They were in the process of painting the house when she died, her room was going to be emptied for the painting anyway.  I think, though, that's where the first chinks in my armor came into play.  I wasn't ready for that job, would have loved to put it off for another month or two, when things weren't quite so raw but my father had other plans. 

Too many things were buried in that closet.  My mother wasn't a  hoarder but she was a bit of a pack rat (not sure there is a difference to the rest of the world but there is in my mind) and sentimentality is big in our family.  She saved some interesting stuff. 

Today I feel a bit like a wind-up doll that needs a strong winding but there isn't anyone good enough to do it.  To add to that, Mom & I worked together for 15 years so here I sit, in an office filled with memories after having left a home filled with memories...  I have no place to hide.  Top it off with missing so much work because of my back problem, I don't feel like I can take any time off to run away for a bit.  There isn't anyplace I really want to go, either.  What I'd love is a room, a dark, comfy room with a big couch and lots of tissues.  I want to be where no one knows how to find me, stashed with a supply of flavored water, my Bible, my journal and just... me.  Where God and I could spend some time alone, hours really, and He'd show me where my head is wobbly and get me put back together properly.  I'd love to make that happen but I don't know how.  Even if I crawled into bed at home, the guys are still there and I'd be worried about them, outside the door, worried about me. 

Do I sound like I'm whining?  I'm sorry if I do...I don't mean to.  I feel more like someone who knows she's coming to the end of her rope and I'm trying to come up with a solution to avoid falling into some sort of abyss.  When Mom died I described it as feeling like I'd suddenly discovered I was standing over a hole I knew nothing about and someone just yanked the rug out from under me.  I'm falling and I have no idea when I'll stop...  I think I'm looking for a ledge to rest on.

Praying God provides a ledge soon...  I would love to just have that good cry and function again.  I say function because I am never, ever going to get used to having Mom gone.  I look to my phone a dozen times a day to call her and I get that punch in the gut feeling every time I realize I can't reach her.  It may get easier and I may only look a time or two a day but I'll never get used to her not being around.

Oh Jesus...come soon...  pain just plain... stinks.



Christopher arrived home, travel-weary, on Saturday afternoon.  I'll be posting a few pictures he took as soon as I can get them somewhat organized.  683 pictures is a lot to go through and since I can't sit up in my chair for too long, I'm going to be working on them for a while, I think.  I can't really work on the laptop when I'm in bed, either - the angle is wrong.  Talk about frustrating.

However.  That's about me & this is supposed to be about him.  He has made a few comments about the last two weeks being the best of his life.  These are words that make my ears sing.  I am so incredibly happy for him!  He saw so much, learned so much... now he is filtering through it all, writing it down so he can remember the details and trying to get back to normal.  Jet lag is a bit of a butt kicker...

Above all, I am so glad he was able to have this experience!!  What an amazing thing for an eleven year old boy to experience.  I can't wait to see how it affects him overall.

This trip was the highlight of our summer.  We've been laying low - between my back & still grieving Mom.  This is enough, though, seriously.  It did my heart so good to see him on that escalator at the airport on Saturday.  I knew Aaron had made the right decision in making sure we sent him.  What an awesome experience.


Forced Calm

It happened.  It was bound to.  You can't possibly think of EVERY scenario.  You can talk & talk until you think you've exhausted all possibilities but you will always miss at least one.

This time?  Christopher's ATM card will NOT work in Europe.  Why?  Those pesky Europeans aren't on our banking network.  Go figure.  Whoda thunk?  Apparently?  Neither my husband nor me nor the customer service representative at our local credit union who told us it WOULD work for getting cash.

So.  There he was.  My sweet, kind, gentle 11 year old on the trip of his life.  In EuroDisney unable to touch a dime of his money why?  Because you can't test these things BEFORE you get to Europe...

I'm disappointed for him, that's for sure.  I'm sure he saw the coolest, most amazing souvenir EVER at Disney and that prompted the trip to the ATM and now?  He may never see it again.  And me?  The moment I hear about this problem, I'm going to go to that bank and get in that rep's face and tell her just what I think of her and her brilliant assurances.

Ok - that was my initial reaction.  I would never actually do that, no matter how tempting.  Instead, I learn about the issue while I'm at work so I have no choice but to work.  To wait.  To wait and see how it's going to work out.

About 5 minutes ago Christopher called.  He's about to crawl into bed after an amazing time at Disney.  He rode Space Mountain twice and the money?  The money he borrowed from someone and will pay them back when he gets to England.  All that worrying and the 11 year olds work together to figure it out.

There is a lesson in there somewhere, I know it.  Now I can't wait to hear the whole story to see if there is just one or if I learn multiple things from these kids. 

Children give me hope when it's hard to find it elsewhere in people. 


Europe Bound

If only that title applied to me.  My younger son was accepted by the People to People Student Ambassador program back in March and we've spent a lot of time focused on this trip ever since.  Fundraisers, projects, forms...  So much paper!  Passport.  Health forms.  Packing lists.  Cultural tests (have to learn about where you're going). 
He and 44 other kids from King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties will get on a plane together tomorrow and head for Paris first.  There they'll spend 6 days in France.  They'll tour Normandy Beach and Caen, participating in a wreath laying ceremony at the official American cemetary.  They'll tour the Louvre, Versailles, go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and hit Euro Disney for a little bit of fun.

When they wrap up their tour of France, they'll take the ferry to England.  There they'll go to Warwick Castle where they'll get a lesson in sword fighting and "punting" (propelling a flat bottom boat with a pole along the River Cherwell).  They will also get to tour Sir Winston Churchill's underground headquarters, those he used during World War II. 

They will also spend a day with a member of Parliament, learning about the British Constitution and the respective roles of the members of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarch.  What a day!!!  I would so love to see all of the amazing landmarks they get to tour but this part of the trip...this is the day I am truly envious of and wish I could attend with him.  After that, they'll tour the Tower of London, cruise the River Thames, meet the famous Beefeaters and be present at Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard.

Such an amazing time.  Fourteen days.  It has been an ordeal getting the funds raised, the shopping done and all of the requirements met.  However... as excited as Christopher is for this trip, every moment, every frustrating and funny moment in the last several months has been more than worth it.

I can't wait to share parts of his trip when he gets home.  Lots of pictures, I'm sure...


My Back

I don't think there is anyone out there unfamiliar with back issues.  At one point or another, we have probably all pulled something, pinched something or tweaked something in our back and we all know just how painful and debilitating it is.

On June 9th, I flipped my hair to wrap it in a towel after my shower.  It is something I have done every single day for 30 years or more.  This one time, though, I did it "just right" and I have been in overwhelming pain ever since.  My legs have gone numb, I can't sit, I can't stand, I can't lay down...  You know the drill.

Truth is, according to my MRI, my back isn't even badly damaged.  Two disks show some slight damage and a third disk shows quite a bit of damage but not enough to be considered "horrible."  Fortunately, I don't need surgery.  Just - PT and whatever else the spine specialist I go to see tomorrow decides.  The PT is helping but I can't work more than 4 1/2 hours a day and even with that, I work two days in a row and day three is a toss up.  Today I had to stay home. 

It is that part that has me nervous.  Seriously nervous.  I know I'm not supposed to worry and I go straight to praying the moment I realize my thoughts have strayed into worrying but the thoughts swirl around over & over again.  See - Aaron was laid off at the end of March, 2010.  He was back to work June 1, 2010 but his paycheck has been consistently $300 less than it was before.  That's $600 a month.  That's a significant sum. 

We cut back, cut out, got a bit wiser in our grocery shopping but even still - $600 a month for over a year is a lot of income lost.  Now, my fear is I won't be able to go back to work full time and will have to take a pay cut equivalent to 3.5 hours a day.  Maybe more if my boss were to decide that's not sufficient.

There is no point in worrying.  I know that.  Until something specific happens, I have no reason to wonder, worry or think the negative thoughts that dance through my head.  I also know I have amazing blessings to count and focus my thoughts on, turning away from those fears that seem to grip me more and more lately.  As this problem drags on, I start to think about what it might mean if my back won't heal beyond where it is right now.

It is that list of blessings - I do have SO very many - that keeps me going each day.  I keep thinking on those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy...  At least I keep trying. 


Happy 4th of July

How did it get to be July already?  I think I must have "gone away" for June.  If only I meant physically...

Come Monday we'll celebrate the bravery of men & women who stood up to a greedy monarch over 200 years ago.  Two hundred thirty-five years ago to be exact.  Two hundred thirty five years...  In that time we have elected 44 Presidents, 4 of whom were assassinated while still in office (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy).  We have fought in more wars than I care to name (Wikipedia will list them for you), survived a depression, a few recessions and have seen several periods of amazing growth.

We have fought, grown, loved and built our way to being one of, if not the, greatest countries in the world.

As we sit at picnic tables or around pools or on the beach, let us not forget all of those who have come before us and fought to give us what we have today.  Freedom has not come cheap and should never be taken for granted.

Have a beautiful, safe and wonderful 4th of July!


Sunday Strength


am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

~Galatians 1:6-10

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hisch


Let's Talk...

Since November 23, 2010, I have...

1.  Broken a toe that stubbornly refused to heal.

2.  Been at a friend's side as he passed away and then stood with his widow through a memorial and military funeral.

3.  Learned dear friends were pregnant with their second child and within weeks learned that same child has Trisomy 18 and may not live to full term or through delivery but if she does, she will only live for a few hours after birth.

4.  Been sick with bronchitis and some other viral malady they never named.

5.  Was with my mother as she passed away & am still going through all that follows that.

6.  Been with my dog as he had first some virus and then a grand mal seizure.

7.  Done something to my back (MRI results Wednesday) and am having serious difficulty sitting and standing.

8.  Found out my dog has an "indeterminate" mass on his stomach and/or liver.

But...for my MRI this morning, I was offered headphones and any one of a huge list of CD's or any FM station to play while they did the test.  I chose my local Christian radio station, Spirit 105.3.

The first song I heard?  "It Is You" by the Newsboys.

It's bad, folks.  It's really, really bad right now.  I think the only reason I'm not a puddle is because I'm in too much shock over the waves that keep coming to actually cry.  I stand in disbelief.

But under it all... seriously, under it all.  I know.  I KNOW.  With every single fiber of my being that God has this and that as long as I keep trusting Him, He will work it all together for good.  All of it.  For His good.  Not mine, per say.  His.  His renown.  His glory.  Him.  All Him.  I won't copy it all here but I turn to Isaiah 25 & 26 in times such as this.  Here is a portion of Isaiah 25:

1 LORD, you are my God;
   I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
   you have done wonderful things,
   things planned long ago.
2 You have made the city a heap of rubble,
   the fortified town a ruin,
the foreigners’ stronghold a city no more;
   it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
   cities of ruthless nations will revere you.
4 You have been a refuge for the poor,
   a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm
   and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
   is like a storm driving against a wall
 5 and like the heat of the desert.
You silence the uproar of foreigners;
   as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
   so the song of the ruthless is stilled.
 6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
   a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
   the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
   the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
 8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
   from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
   from all the earth.
            The LORD has spoken.

I know He has it and it will all work to His glory.  I praise Him in my pain, I keep my eyes focused squarely on Him.  And I Trust.  I Pray.  I Wait.

I love you, Lord.  Always.


Oh my aching back...

I don't know what I've done to myself but...I tweaked my back really, really well.  Can't hardly move.  At all.  When I do, I'm in extreme agony.

Oh joy...

Praying it heals.  Fast.  I need some semblance of normalcy soon.  I'm starting to lose pieces of my mind.


Giveaway to... WHERE?????!!!!!

I haven't posted about a giveaway on my blog for quite some time.  It is, however, imperative that I post about this one.  Why?  Because it is, in a word, AMAZING.

A 7 day trip to Paris.

Yes.  THAT Paris.  The one in France.

Jordan Ferney from Oh Happy Day! is giving away a trip to Paris and is offering herself as tour guide for part of your trip.  The trip includes airfare and hotel stay.  The rest is up to you but... seriously?  Airfare AND hotel?  I will happily, skipping down the road happily even, foot the rest.

How I dream to win this trip.  Not only do I *need* to get away but Paris is my husband's & my goal trip for our 10th wedding anniversary.  I won't argue one bit if we go 4 years early!

As I publish this post, there are some issues with Jordan's site, comments won't work, etc.  She's working on it.  The contest is open until June 20th, though, so you have time to enter.  Don't delay too long, though.  And if you win?  Let me know because if I don't win, someone I know winning will get me doing the happy dance just as fast!!

Best of luck!



When I started this blog, my idea was to record those things that happen in our life.  I'm not a crafter, I'm not an interior designer and I'm not a brilliant writer.  This isn't a blog to make a living from, it's strictly a journal...I just decided to use a very public forum for said journal.  It's been ok.  I'm not so interesting that I've built a major readership but it did bring a dear friend into my life, a woman I would have never "met" if I didn't blog and that's more than enough for me. 

So...in the spirit of an online journal, I'm going to write about our Sunday.  We finally had a Sunday afternoon we could spend with Aaron's sister & brother-in-law.  They were sick for the boys' birthday party in January and then we were sick for their combined 40th birthday party in March and then Keith in April and my mother in May...  It's been since Christmas since we've seen them for a visit.  Today was a big day.  We were excited.

About 3:20 this afternoon, I was on the phone with a friend when Christopher came into the living room to get me.  He said one word.  Max.  And he pointed.  I could tell...one word, his tone, his face...it was serious.

And it was.  By the time I got out back, the seizure was over but there was foam at Max's mouth and you could see he had no idea what was going on.  I just told my friend on the phone I had to go, hung up, through the phone on the table and ran...  shoes, closing windows, grabbing the remote and opening the van door from the living room.

We headed to his vet's office, guessing it was probably closed and it was so off to an emergency vet hospital we went.  By 3:45 he was being evaluated to make sure he wasn't in serious crisis and when it was determined he wasn't, he were put into a waiting room with him.  We waited almost 45 minutes for the vet to come in which felt like much longer than that but ultimately wasn't too bad.  Max's panting eventually slowed down and even the red around his eyes and the "red" that his tongue & gums became went back to normal.  Except for his lethargy, by the time the vet came in, Max seemed fine. 

So...now it begins.  We pray he doesn't have another one but if he does, we start blood tests and then we hope it's something like hyperthyroidism...not a brain tumor.  In the meantime, Max is sleeping on the floor at my feet and we pray.  Pray he doesn't have a seizure he can't come out of when we're not home.  Pray this was a one-time fluke and he never has another one...  Pray.  Pray because we know everyone, everything has its time but after Keith & Mom, we're not ready for it to be Max's time.  Pray.  And love our puppy.


Signs of Love

I've never quite figured out how I feel about "signs."  While the Bible is full of statements regarding Jesus performing many signs, I often think about the time the Pharisees tested Him, demanding a sign and He told them they couldn't read it anyway (Matthew 16:1-4 and Mark 8:10-12) and they'd been given all the signs they were going to get, no more would be coming.  I often think Christ performed the last of the "signs" and we have to wait for the return of Christ for such amazing wonders but then...  Then things happen that I can't explain, that don't fall under any category but flat out miracle and I think... God isn't done sharing His wonders and signs, where is my head? 

When our dear friend Keith passed away at the beginning of April, we were all left in absolute shock.  Don't get me wrong, Keith had been ill, diagnosed in December with metastatic melanoma, given 8-12 months but we all knew he was going to beat that timeframe.  Had to.  All of the stories we'd heard were of people who were given that 8-12 months and then went on to live another 2 or 5 or more years after that "end date."  But Keith's melanoma moved into his lungs and then he contracted pneumonia.  It was the pneumonia that took him, he didn't have the strength or lung capacity to fight it.

So...we're all left wondering how could it be possible.  What was God thinking?  We had time.  We were going to say our good-byes.  We had plans.

Yeah... we all know the saying about making plans...

But.  Keith's military honors funeral.  It was a brilliantly-beautiful afternoon and if you're at all familiar with our weather this year, we haven't had many of those.  Actually, since October, we didn't have an all day sunny day, no rain whatsoever day until May.  Even on that day it rained but for Keith's funeral, the sun shone brightly and the temperature climbed.

He was carried in by the National Guard and a motorcycle group called The Patriots stood at attention, lining the walkway with American Flags and honoring Keith's service.  It was, beyond a word, beautiful. 

The amazing thing, though... the sign if you will... was the dove.  Doves, white doves mind you, do not often fly alone.  This one, according to the funeral director, was not a "regular" at the cemetery but there it was.  It arrived when Keith did, with the motorcycle procession and it flew overhead while they sat at the cemetery entrance and then flew with them when they drove him to where he was handled by the National Guard (please forgive me if there is better terminology for this...my mind still isn't working clearly).  When that soldier took his urn, the dove continued to fly over Keith.  Once he was placed on the table and the service started, the dove flew behind us and sat in a tree.

And there it stayed.

Until Keith was escorted back out and placed in the car to go home.  Until that urn was put away, the dove sat guard.  White dove.  A single white dove.

Staring at that dove, all I could think of was Christ being baptized and God having a dove alight on Him.  It was all I could do to hold back the tears as I stared at that bird.  I brushed it off...for a bit.  Saying too much was being made of a bird but as I thought about it and thought about it, all I could see was God's mercy and grace overflowing from that simple, single dove.  Keith was ok.  He is home with God and all is well.  That dove was God's sign to us that that is so.

And it gives us great peace as we try to adjust to life without our friend.  Thank you, Father God.  Thank you.


And The Sign Said...

We called my mother's cousin Harriet last Sunday, within a few hours of my mother's passing.  She lives in New Jersey and so our 4:30 was her 7:30 and with it being Sunday we wanted to catch her before she was off to church.

She took on the responsibility of telling my mother's New Jersey cousins and she did it by driving to each one's church, catching them before or right after their service.

When she got to the church my mother attended growing up, this was what was written on the big church sign out front:

Jesus came to earth and died our death for us
So we could live His life with Him.

A bittersweet reminder that my Mom is well...  and living His life now in heaven instead of here.  It is only that which will carry us through the next several... days... weeks... months... years....


The Most Beautiful Woman I Have Ever Known

One week ago my mother passed away after an almost two year battle with ovarian cancer.  I wish I could type about her but right now I can't hardly put one foot in front of the other, let alone talk about her.  The tears just start to flow.  I know - no doubt in my mind - that she is home with Jesus.  God has her and she is not only healed but she is perfect.  All of that brings me joy but the joy is there beyond the fog of grief right now.  I spoke to or saw my mother almost every day of my life.  We worked together in the same office for 15 years, too.  We spent a lot of time together and now...she's gone.  I know - there are memories and trust me, I've looked to them several times already.  I know where she is, who she is with but for me, she is no longer a phone call away and I ache with a pain I never knew I could feel and continue to breathe.

This is what I said at her funeral on Thursday.  I will warn you, it took me about 10-11 minutes to say so it's a bit of a long read. 

Good afternoon, everyone.  For anyone who doesn’t know me, I am Bonnie, Mae’s oldest daughter.  Thank you for coming.  Mom would be overwhelmed and quite embarrassed if she knew how much attention she was getting today.  We, however, are incredibly grateful for the love and support you have shown our family – not just today but in the almost two years since Mom was diagnosed.  I will try to be quick and stick to what I’ve written.  I have a tendency to rabbit trail a lot but if Mom could see all of this today, she’d want to run & hide.  She was never a fan of attention.  If Dad is right in his picture of heaven, she is currently running the Golden Streets Daycare, holding a baby and watching dozens more play.  If she were here, she’d tell us to stop all of this and get outside – take a walk – it’s a beautiful day.  So…in respect to my shy and humble mother…

I wish I was a brilliant speaker.  Mom deserves the best stories, the best laughs.  She deserves a great party.  She so loved to throw them and she never needed a reason although the holidays always meant mandatory party time.  Parties meant games and she always had a few – unscrambling words, guessing how many of.. whatever… she’d put in a glass jar to name a couple.  There were always, always prizes.  She didn’t need anyone but her family, either, to make something a party.  The kids (her grandkids) would ask her on the 4th of July what the next year’s theme would be.  Yup.  Theme.  I don’t know how many years ago it was but she decided there would be a theme for 4th of July.  You came dressed as…  your favorite Disney character, as a pirate, in pj’s, we had Hawaiian dress one year… 

Easter meant the annual hunting of the eggs.  There got to be so many people in our family hunting eggs, she started having to mix the eggs up – blue tops with green bottoms.  Pain in the neck if she didn’t lay your egg down sideways.  We’d often get our colors mixed up with each other and one year we were in pretty big trouble - SHE couldn’t remember who was what color OR where she’d hidden all the eggs.  After that?  A map.  Even then we’d more often than not be missing an egg.  There was always the “big prize” egg, too.  I think her favorite on that one was the year she hid it in the burn barrel.  She stood on the deck and watched us – each one of us adults – walk up to that burn barrel and look in it.  Then… walk away without seeing it.  My brother-in-law was the one who finally found it.  The rest of us were laughing with the “how did we miss that?” Man, did she laugh over that one.

She loved to laugh and one thing is for sure – she had the right family for that one.  Some of the wittiest one-liners you’ve wished you could have heard have been said at my parents’ house by someone in this family.  She loved every one of them.  She also loved going to work to laugh.  In one of her journals, she wrote about that.  Forgive me as, I’m paraphrasing a bit here – “why would I want to stay home, lay on the couch, be alone and feel bad when I can go to the office and the guys will make me laugh.”  It felt good to her to, during the day, be around those she worked with.  She often said it wasn’t the job that dragged her to work, it was the people.  Mom & I worked together for 15 years.  When she first started at the District Council, she worked with me in the morning and with my sister at a daycare in the afternoon.  I can still hear her when she was telling my brother – Bonnie bosses me around in the morning and Brenda bosses me around in the afternoon.  My weekends are free – you want ‘em?

Flamingo wars – she loved her little flamingo war which started with my sister & brother-in-law but then grew to encompass the whole family.  I don’t know when it started and I don’t know if it was her or Matt who tossed the first flamingo but…it went on for years and we all learned something pretty interesting.  If you can imagine it, they have a flamingo for it. One year she went to Florida to visit my Uncle John & Aunt Diane and she brought home a few flamingo items.  They were that next year’s – or just about the whole year’s - holiday’s game’s prizes.  We all have flamingoes.  So much power was held by that flamingo war that she had indirect influence, too.  My mother-in-law spotted the flamingo trinkets I’d been given and/or won and thinking I liked flamingoes, decided to get in on the fun.  I have received a couple of flamingoes from her and ummm… not that I have to tell you this but my mother showed NO sympathy on that one.  She just laughed. 

I could talk all day about things my Mom made fun.  It would be the easiest thing in the world to do.  I told her once, 99.9% of the fun I’ve had in my life is because of and/or with her. 

Mom was pretty spontaneous, too.  One casual comment at a wedding shower a few years ago and she was off for a week to Hawaii with three of my friends.  A high school dream turned into a week long road-trip with one of her best friends and a quick conversation turned into an Alaskan cruise.  You call her on a Saturday morning and say “Hey Mom, I’m thinking about doing ___ .  Wanna come?”  Answer was almost always yes.  Even her last weekend we had a trip planned and despite knowing she probably couldn’t do it, she didn’t have me cancel it until the Tuesday before.

My Mother was one of the best women I have ever known.  She made our house a home.  Always.  When we were kids, she made our home “the” place to hang out.  Not only did we want to be at home but our friends all wanted to be there with us. 

She was graceful and humble, shy and quiet, lovely and thoughtful.  Friendly and sweet but stubborn…  I told her just recently, “For so many years I’ve wanted to be like you.  People look at me and they use words like “intimidating” and “strong” and “independent.”  For you, they use words like “gentle” and “gracious” and “sweet” and “nice.” 

Mom was and will always be the most beautiful woman I have ever known.  I do not know if I will ever be capable of her kindness, but I strive for it.  I do not know if I will ever be as skilled as she at making people feel at home but I keep practicing.  I am over 40 and I can tell you, my mother is still teaching me and while she may not be a phone call away anymore, I can still see her and hear her.  My oldest son has her deep love of tradition – not the kind that says don’t wear white after Labor Day but the kind you create for your own family.    In her granddaughters I see her compassion, her stubbornness (ok…that’s in her kids, too), a bit of the tomboy flair I’ve heard stories about, her as a kid, her quiet watchfulness and too many other attributes to name.  In my nephew I see her intelligence and analyzing everything and in my younger son, who gained her as a grandmother when he was 5, I see her love of exploring things outdoors.  How many grandmothers would let their 6 year old grandson pick up an intact dead crab on the beach and bring it home to show me…  Only one.  The rest of them would have been too afraid of my reaction… 

Looking through pictures of my mother for today, it was rare to find one of her alone, being “serious.”  Usually she’s doing something silly (sticking her tongue out was a favorite) or has grandkids climbing all over her or is standing with… someone.  Always with someone.  How deeply she loved all of the people in her life and every picture was a treasured memory of some moment and she shared it with the people around her. 

I can’t talk about my Mom without talking about her faith.  My mother embodied 1 Peter 3:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.

Her reference verse was Galatians 6:9.  She put it in an email to my brother & sister & I over a year ago and she had it written on a card, taped in her room.  The verse on the card reads:

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

And her note after:  “It’s easy to quit, it takes faith to go through”

She had her struggles, her doubts and through this last battle, it was quite tough for her to lay it all at God’s feet but…she would, even if she picked it back up, she’d lay it back down.  She always knew, and her journals reflect, that she didn’t understand God’s plan, she didn’t know God’s plan and she hoped God’s plan included allowing her to stay with us for many years to come but ultimately…she trusted Him and His plan. 

As I try to wrap this up ~ I know this is cliché but the death of someone you love is a time of great personal reflection.  Mom & I had so many conversations about death & dying in the last several months.  In one of them we talked about being fortunate enough to know it was coming much sooner than anyone would ever want and we had the opportunity to say all of those things we wanted to say.  In another, I told my mother all she’d ever meant to me, who she was to me and it surprised her.  Happily surprised her.  So…don’t wait.  Don’t ever pass up an opportunity to tell the people you love just how much they mean to you, how you see them, how important they are to you.  Don’t let the angry or bad feelings linger – go, talk it out.  Apologize when you screw up and work to never do it again.  We only know we have the moment we’re breathing right now.

I know, I repeat myself but…my mother was the most beautiful woman I know and I had the privilege of telling her all of who she was to me before I had to say good-bye.  My new normal is totally abnormal.  A light has gone out in my life, I’m not quite sure who I’m going to go to now ~ she was always who I called when I had something funny to share or a question to ask or a rant that needed venting…  And she was always there. 

Finally… Mom, for a while was “into” Precious Moments.  The figurines.  She collected a few but mostly, she bought them to give away.  Each person in this room can relate stories, we all can state in years how much time we had with her.  62 years, 45 years, 44 years, 43 years, 34 years…all the way down to not quite 1 year..  but each one of those years is broken into moments.  Even if it wasn’t a figurine, she spent a lifetime giving away Precious Moments.  Thank you all for being a part of her treasure.