I Am Thankful

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to share my list of “thankfuls,” because I don’t think we’re doing that nearly enough these days.

These days too many of us tend to be negative, concentrating on all the things in our lives and our country and the world around us that aren’t going the way that we think they should.

Yes, there are a lot of those right now, but there are a lot more things that are good in our lives, if we only stop to think about them; concentrate on them, at least today, on this Thanksgiving day.

So here’s my list:

I am thankful for the chance to still gather some of our loved ones together. I am thankful for my family, and the love we share, even though sometimes we don’t act like it (just like everyone else I know…let’s be real) or feel like it. But the point is we do love each other. And I’m thankful for that love.

I am thankful for my husband and the life we have made together these past 38 years. We’ve been through a lot: family issues and loss; infertility; successions of career moves; and some serious health issues. We have stood by each other through it all, and we have prevailed against a lot of odds. And we will continue to do so. Marriage is a commitment “for better or worse”.  No one ever said it would be easy, but it’s certainly worth it.

I am thankful for our daughter and son-in-law and our two beautiful granddaughters. And also for our new grandson who will be making his appearance in January, or maybe before. As sick as our daughter has been during this pregnancy, I am thankful that our little one continues to grow in health, and that he will be a special blessing to complete their family.

I am thankful for true friends who love us and stick with us, even though we don’t always agree on certain things. True friends remain friends and don’t drop us because of being on opposite sides of issues. We can still be friends without arguing over ideas that we’ll never agree on. If we can’t, we were never true friends. And unfortunately we’ve found that out over the past several years, but I am grateful for the years we did have together.

I am thankful for my health. As I grow older every year, that is one blessing I continue to be ever so thankful for. Because so many others my age are not as fortunate. And I am thankful that despite all the medical issues my husband has been through since our marriage, he continues to maintain a positive attitude and also continues to come through each medical challenge with flying colors! 

Along with that, I am thankful for the availability of excellent doctors and medical care, especially as it pertains to my husband. We are blessed with some of the brightest and the best in their fields, and as we age, and new diseases come against us, that’s extremely important. Some may not necessarily agree with our medical choices, but we are thankful we have those choices and are able to utilize them.

I am thankful for the home we have lived in for almost 30 years now. Yes it’s showing it’s age, with some wear and tear, but it’s our home, and it holds an abundance of family memories that we hold dear. We don’t know how long we will continue to live in it before we decide to downsize, but for now we’re still here, and making more memories every day.

I am thankful for a job that I really enjoy; one in which I am respected and able to use all of my past experiences in real estate to improve the performance of my department. Although I’m at retirement age, and actually past it, I’m not ready to stop working yet, and I have the opportunity to continue to do what I enjoy and get paid for it, and work for a wonderful company with lots of great people.

In a similar situation, I’m also thankful that although he’s technically semi retired, my husband is still working a 30+ hour week, enjoying what he does as well, and like me, working for a great company who appreciates him.

I am thankful we live in a country in which we are still free to express our opinions and maintain our right to free speech. Although we have a politically divided country right now, I still have hope that we can overcome our differences and once again become a country united for the good of all of us. Because if we continue on the divided path we are currently on, what kind of country will we be leaving our children and grandchildren?

And above all, I am thankful for all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us; the things He has walked us through, and the things He has protected us from. It’s been a challenging year, but we continue to remain strong and positive that our family will continue to also retain our strong love for each other no matter what challenges we may face.

May God continue to bless us all, both on this Thanksgiving Day and in the coming months and years.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Be Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. A day that families have traditionally gotten together to enjoy a huge meal and each other’s company. But over the last two-three years it’s not been the same, has it. We haven’t been able to get together as we’ve wanted because of a silent and unseen virus. It’s been really rough. It seems we take so long to prepare all the food, put out our best dishes and silverware, and then in just a quick 20-30 minutes, it’s all over with, the table is cleared, food put away, and then everyone goes their separate ways until the next time. Is that your day?

But what if you don’t have family nearby? What if you can’t get home to be with them? Do you have friends to visit and enjoy the traditional meal with?

For many people, Thanksgiving is a stressful holiday. I said that just the other day. We’re bombarded with ads about family meals, showing families getting together for joyous times and fellowship, everyone laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Is that how it is at your Thanksgiving?

Many people at this time of year don’t have the luxury of these traditional family meals anymore, because their families are too spread out, or no longer with them. Or restrictions on travel are still in effect, or there are just no available flights. Many people don’t even have good friends they can go and eat their Thanksgiving meal with. It becomes not only stressful, but lonesome, and a very sad and depressing time.

So tomorrow, take the time to remember your friends and neighbors who may not have somewhere to go and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. If you’re having a big dinner, set the table for one or two more people and invite them over. And do it now. If you’re going somewhere, and you know someone who has no place to go, call your host and ask if you could bring that someone with you. Most likely they’ll say yes. After all, this holiday is about being thankful and grateful for what you have. And one of the best ways to do that is to think of others who may be less fortunate than you.

Yes, it’s something we’ve heard a lot, but this year, why not stop and do more than think about it. Do something about it. The year my mother passed away (a month before Thanksgiving) was particularly hard for my remaining small family. I didn’t know what we were going to do and how I was going to get through the holiday. All the memories of those past Thanksgivings were filling my mind, and making me so nostalgic and sad I didn’t even want to have a holiday! Then some very good friends asked us to come share their Thanksgiving meal with them, and it was a gesture I’ll never forget. It meant so much to us at a very difficult time. Good deeds are always rewarded, and this is the time to step out. Especially in these times we find ourselves in.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be blessed!

Thanksgiving Reflections

I always tend to get a bit nostalgic at this time of year because there’s so much emphasis on family and the things that tradition tells us we need to emphasize during the Thanksgiving season.

How about those of us who don’t have the “traditional” family unit? Whatever that is any more.

In our case, that’s sort of, kind of, true.  Our family has shifted quite a bit, and the closeness of years long ago is no longer there. It doesn’t mean we love them any less, but we love in a different way. 

Family dynamics have changed, and we no longer have actual physical gatherings with all of those who are still in our hearts. It’s a way of life, whether we like it or not.

Our traditions have changed. Around our table will be our daughter and son in law and our two granddaughters. Maybe others. Who knows? And we’re all anxiously awaiting next year for the addition of a new grandson who will have joined us after this year’s holiday season.

Our meal will still be the traditional turkey and trimmings, but our daughter won’t be able to enjoy her favorite dishes because she’s been so sick during this pregnancy. Snickerdoodle hummus with crackers appears to be her current menu favorite, with fresh strawberries and fruit dip. Whatever works for her. That’s all that counts.

But I can’t help but look back on Thanksgivings some 20 or so years ago before things started to change, and yes, I still long for those days again.

But then I stop to think about all that’s happened in the intervening years, and I realize I really wouldn’t want to change much of it. Certainly I’d still want my mother with us, but I wouldn’t want the friends we’ve met along the way to no longer be with us. I’d not want to give up my daughter and her husband and our grandchildren for anything in this world.

Unfortunately change happens. Change is inevitable. Families evolve and change as family members move away or sadly, pass away. And our holiday traditions evolve as well. Friends who can’t spend holidays with their families join with us at our Thanksgiving meal, traditional or not.

Friends become the family we choose for ourselves. And that’s ok. Because we no longer live in the world as it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what we have. For those we love. A time to fellowship and share with others and allow them to share with us.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Sharing and giving thanks for the blessings we have.

And we have many. Sometimes we forget just how many because we’re all too often complaining that things aren’t the way we think they should be. And we almost overlook the things we should be most grateful for.

And if we stop and think about it, we can list a lot more things to be thankful for than things that we think are wrong in our life.

Try it. Be honest with yourself.

And you’ll see what I mean.

Remembering The Price of Freedom 2022

This post was originally published six years ago today, and updated last year as well. But it’s still very relevant today. So once again I’ve updated it to reflect Veterans Day, 2022.

The price of freedom cannot be measured monetarily. It is measured by the sacrifice of the lives of the men and women who defend it.

Today is Veterans Day. The day we thank all of those who have served and are currently serving in our military. Their bravery and dedication to duty is not appreciated nearly enough. They have a unique understanding of the ways of the world that we who have not served cannot begin to understand. And so do their families, who go for long stretches of time without seeing their loved ones.

To all of those who have served or are still serving, we owe you a huge THANK YOU for the time and sacrifice you, and your families, have given, and are still giving, to this great nation. You leave home and family behind far too often to serve your country because that’s your duty and your chosen profession. You and your families are invaluable to this country, although sometimes we do not show it enough.

Those of us who only read about our service men and women who are in-country, with “boots on the ground” honestly do not comprehend what these brave men and women face on a daily basis. We cannot begin to understand with they go through, how they feel, how lonesome it can be for them being away from everything that is “home” for them. We cannot understand what it is like for the wives, husbands, children, and other family member who are apart from them so long, only being able to share events through email, text messaging, and hopefully FaceTime or Zoom calls.

My father served in the Army during World War II, however, because of a bad knee that he had originally injured playing football in college, he was sent home with an honorable discharge and a knee brace.

My uncle also served, however, he did not get home until the war ended. He was quite fortunate. Although I do not know his entire story, I will relate what I know of it, because in my eyes, he was one of the heroes.

My uncle also served in the Army as a young man barely 18 years old. He was trained as a crewman on the fighter planes, and consequently sent to Germany, where he flew in several successful missions with his crew.WW2 Plane

The morning of the day he flew his final mission was most likely just another day. Clear skies; light wind; a perfect day for flying. I can imagine the crew loading the plane, going through their pre-flight checklist, making sure their parachutes were ready, and most likely cracking jokes and talking about what they’d do when they came back from their mission.

Flying over enemy territory was never safe. Most of us have probably seen movies of the allied war planes heading out for missions over Germany. What the movies don’t adequately show is the danger our men faced during each of these missions.

They didn’t have all of the sophisticated equipment in 1945 that our armed forces have now. There were no computers, no GPS; only a navigator with paper maps showing where they were supposed to be flying. There were gunners who fired their weapons without fancy electronics to assist them. They had to judge where to aim, and when to pull the trigger, based on what knowledge the officers and ground troops had been able to discern. It was much different than today. But they had courage, and a sense of duty. They had volunteered to serve, and knew the risks involved.

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but my uncle’s plane took a hit from a German warplane. Fortunately they were all able to parachute out, and landed in a wooded area somewhere behind enemy lines. They had only a few supplies, and had no idea where they were. And no idea whether anyone else had any idea where they were, or even if they were alive.

Shortly afterwards they were captured by German soldiers and marched to one of the POW concentration camps. Capture was certainly better than being shot, which I’m sure they were all afraid, would happen. As brave as these men were, just remember, they were all in their early 20’s, the beginning of their lives. They all wondered if they’d ever see home and family again. Over 93,000 men were held as prisoners in the German POW camps in World War II. They were held in drafty wooden buildings, with uncomfortable cots, and only a thin blanket for warmth. They were fed one or two meals a day, usually some type of thin soup and stale bread. Their only utensils were a tin spoon, and a tin cup for water. One day they were given a treat…candy bars which they quickly bit into. And then saw the worms inside.

My Uncle Fowler and his crew spent six months in that camp, guarded by armed soldiers and German shepherds. They never knew when or if the guards would come for some of them to question them, torture them, or kill them.

There are some experiences that are just too terrible to discuss because they bring back too many nightmares. My uncle would never discuss any of what happened, other than what I have written here; not with his parents, his wife, or his two sons. After his return, and until the day he died, he was scared of German shepherds because he had seen them tear hands and arms off of prisoners who were trying to escape.

Conditions were bad back then. Conditions in foreign countries today can be bad as well. Our servicemen and women go on patrol, not knowing if there are IED’s, car bombs, or snipers waiting to take them out. Seemingly safe and quiet areas can suddenly become battlegrounds and killing fields. Many of these brave men and women come back seriously wounded, disfigured, or with severe cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which can require years of therapy to overcome. And there are still too many times when these brave men and women come back home in a flag-draped casket that arrives at Dover Air Force Base.

Recently a football player compared his being away from his family for games that were out of town, away from their home stadium. The comment drew many, many cries of outrage, and rightly so, and he later had to apologize. He spoke without thinking. Because he has no clue about what our military families go through, or what their loved ones go through who are away from them in foreign lands. And that’s a sad commentary on our thought processes today.

So today, let’s stop and thank a veteran for all of our freedoms that we hold so dear (or that we don’t even stop and think about at all because they’ve always been there). They give up a lot on a daily basis, and so do their families. Without them, our lives would not be what they are today.

To all veterans and to those who are still serving, and their families, Happy Veteran’s Day. Thank you for your service. May God bless you all, and keep you safe.veterans_day_thank_you-1940983

Pumpkins and Craziness Are Here Again!

It’s that time of year once again. The time when there’s that little nip of coolness in the air, especially the first thing in the morning. Even the sunlight seems crisper, giving us a hint of the chill that’s soon to follow. Yes, it’s that time of year that shuffles in the true end of summer. And shuffle is a good term, because I always go into it dragging my feet, kicking and screaming, because as I’ve said many times, I’m a spring/summer/flip flop type of girl!

And yes, I’m complaining about it again! Just like I do every year.

We can feel the chill in the air every morning, even though it sometimes warms up in the afternoon. The trees turn into a palette of new colors; bright oranges and yellows and vibrant reds. And all those leaves begin to fall all over the yard, getting raked into piles of crisp color that we adults are just a bit tempted to jump into it when no one is looking, like we did when we were children! Or, in our case, they fall in the pool and my husband has to keep scooping them out.

fall-leaves

Yes, I will admit, the colors are really pretty, and can be breathtaking, depending on where you go to see them. My husband likes to drive over to the mountains and enjoy the spectacular views. And they are pretty. But if it’s up to me, I’ll look at other people’s pictures online and think how pretty they are, and then dream about how long it’ll be until it gets warm again.

Then there are the pumpkins. Everywhere. In store and even restaurant displays, and piled along those roadside stands. Some even have carved faces already, and yes, I’ve been tempted to buy a couple of them to carve, but our son-in-law does that for the grandkids now, so we let him have all the fun.  But you can also buy craft pumpkins now that you can carve as well. No mess. But not nearly as fun. I remember when I was growing up and my uncle making the most beautiful jack-o’-lanterns. Over fifty years ago, he was painting faces and other designs on the pumpkins rather than carving them, because they’d last longer. He was certainly ahead of his time, and if he were still here today, I’m sure he’d still be doing it, only much more elaborate.

And speaking of pumpkins, don’t you think the pumpkin craze is getting a bit out of hand now? I do like pumpkin pie, but pumpkin spiced coffee? Pumpkin glazed donuts? Pumpkin flavored pop tarts? Pumpkin flavored Oreos? Please, no……I like pumpkin pie, but all the different pumpkin flavored stuff…no. Pumpkin ice cream is making its appearance now, and pumpkin flavored potato chips and pretzels. Then there are pumpkin dipped dog biscuits… Just please. No. I just can’t. And now I just heard that a local restaurant has created a pumpkin pizza! I’m not going there.

However. There are a few things that I can appreciate about this time of year.

candy_0For one, there is a LOT of candy on sale right now. And I do like to keep my candy bowl on my desk filled with all kinds of wonderful chocolate candy bars, miniature ones of course, just in case I get an urge during the day for a quick pick-me-up! Even though I’m now working from home, I still have that bowl. Chocolate can give you a pick-me-up, thank goodness, and on certain days I really need that. And I’m sure many of you reading this are like us, and buy your supply of Halloween candy based on what YOU like to eat, and not necessarily what the kids are going to want, so you can enjoy the leftovers! Is there any other way to buy it?

And I have to admit I did enjoy seeing the costumes the kids were wearing when they came to our door to get their candy. The little ones were always adorable, but now we’re not home on Halloween night, because we go to our daughter and son-in-law’s neighborhood with the grandkids and help them collect the candy! Their development goes all out, with almost everyone decorating their yards, with many of the families sitting out in their driveways with portable firepits and candy, and yes, some adult beverages. It’s one big party. Almost everyone rents a golf cart and drives around the neighborhood (they live on a golf course), and of course the golf carts are always decorated for the occasion.

And this year, our daughter will actually be wearing a Halloween costume, or her version of one. Here she is modeling it with our granddaughters who are looking forward to becoming big sisters in early January!!Expecting Halloween Costume

pauline-and-fowler-halloween1951When I was growing up, most of us dressed up for Halloween, but very seldom in anything scary or spooky. My hometown had an annual Halloween parade, with several of the main streets blocked off so the participants could march around our little business district and the county courthouse. Children and adults paraded around streets in costumes and competed for prizes, and the streets were filled with onlookers. My aunt and uncle actually won first prize in the adult division one year, dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy. Weren’t they looking sharp? (How many of you know who Raggedy Ann and Andy are?) And if memory serves me correctly, I think some of the local churches sponsored the parade and contributed the prizes!

I can’t remember the last time I saw a Halloween parade. But they were a lot of fun! At least to us kids, and the adults who still acted like kids. It was just a fun time to enjoy ourselves, and get candy, of course!

So once again I guess I’m sort of stuck with it being fall. I can’t change it, so I have to make the most of it. I can wear my jeans and sweaters with my boots, enjoy our toasty fireplace with a glass of wine, and count the days until Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And I can remember that spring is, sort of, just around the corner!

José Guadalupe Posada

Happy Birthday, Mom! (Wish You Were Here)

Several years ago I wrote this blog for my mom’s birthday, several years after she had passed away to her heavenly life. This year I have updated it, because I know in my heart that even though a lot of what I originally wrote is still true, there are a couple of important changes, which you’ll have to read to the end to discover.

Today would have been my mother’s 110th birthday! Where has the time gone? No of course she isn’t with us anymore, and hasn’t been for some 16 years. But that doesn’t mean we can’t remember her on her birthday.

We always wish for “just one more” of those special times with our loved ones after they’re gone. It’s our own human nature, because we don’t want to let them go. There won’t be any more of those special celebrations here on earth, but in my heart I’ve been imagining what her birthday today might be like in her heavenly home, where she’s been for quite some time now.

And in my dreams (even a bit last night) I’ve imagined what my mother’s heavenly birthday might be like.

First of all, my mother didn’t like birthdays, at least not her own. She didn’t want to be reminded of her age. And if she were reading this blog, she’s probably already upset with me for telling – again! Sure, she enjoyed other people’s birthdays, but she never wanted to have any type of party or celebration for her own. But in heaven, I’m fairly sure that’s all changed now.

Her birthday is the anniversary of her arrival here on earth. Now that’s she back in her heavenly home, the aging process she disliked so much is no more. No more old age. Although we have no idea what our heavenly bodies will look like, we know they will be perfect, free of wrinkles and infirmities, restored to our own perfect beautiful self, just as the Lord sees us.

Engagement PictureI imagine her now as she appeared in her engagement photo, a beautiful young woman, full of happiness! Looking ahead to a wonderful life with the man she loved.

I imagine her waking up on this birthday morning in a beautiful room, full of flowers, butterflies and hummingbirds darting all around. There are heavenly birds joining in chorus with some of the angels, singing her a special birthday song meant only for her ears. I imagine her smiling happily at this special greeting!

My father is there, too, restored as a young man, who takes her hand and leads her to the special celebration that’s been planned in her honor.

There’s a beautiful table set out on her porch which overlooks a sea of flowers. Not only the roses my mother so loved much here on earth, but flowers we can’t imagine, grown only in heavenly gardens, their colors painted from heavenly rainbows by the Lord’s own hand. Their scent is amazing, and drifts by as a special heavenly perfume, created for her on her special day. A few of the deer she so enjoyed watching in her back yard wander aimlessly through the flowers, waiting for the right moment to wander up on the porch to visit with her.

The pets she’d had here on earth are there as well, little dogs playing with each other, barking happily as they see her walk in, ready to jump in her arms and wish her a happy birthday! I see her face light up as she greets each one by name and gives them a special hug and a heavenly dog treat which they scamper off with to enjoy.

Her family and friends are there as well; her own mom and dad, as well as her brothers and sister, some of her best friends from earth, all delighted to celebrate with her! Plus other relatives I never met, but know one day I’ll get to know.

There are other young adults there as well that I don’t recognize, but I know they are the children she miscarried, now spending eternity with their parents. My brothers and sisters that I won’t meet until that day in the future when I join them.

I see young children around her as well, hugging and kissing her, bringing her flowers and presents, and I hear them calling her “Grandmom.” Obviously, all the babies I miscarried, living in their heavenly home and being watched over by the grandmother who adores them and loves them just as much as she loved and adored the only child I was able to give birth to.

No birthday celebration would be complete without birthday cake and presents. And her cake is a heavenly three-tiered masterpiece, a concoction of sugary flowers and butterflies that no pastry chef here on earth could even begin to duplicate. I can only imagine the taste as it’s served on crystal plates, for all in attendance to enjoy.

And the presents…what kind of presents could you possibly get in heaven, since you already have everything you could ever want? So there aren’t that many, but the ones there are so special. Beautifully wrapped in iridescent paper, which changes color from time to time, and tied with the most intricate and amazing bows like nothing we could ever tie here on earth. The gifts slowly unwrap themselves as they’re placed in her hands, to reveal a few specially selected gifts designed just for her. Another jewel for her heavenly crown. More colorful embroidery thread for her needlework.

But the most precious gift is a photo frame, decorated with pink hearts and pearls, which contains a picture of her great grandchildren…her namesake Rachel, as well as her little sister Ryleigh This is certainly not like an earthly photo frame, since it allows her to watch little Rachel and Ryleigh as they grow up, through all of their stages of life. What more appropriate gift for her! And on this birthday there are also pictures of the next grandchild in that frame, a little boy named Ryan, who looks just like his daddy. Just think, Mom, you’re getting to actually see what he will look like before he even arrives!

I’ve never seen my mother so happy. So beautiful. And so at peace with her life. But heaven is a place of total joy, total peace, and eternal joy. Of course she’s happy.

So Mom, Happy Birthday! I know you are enjoying an amazing celebration! And you deserve it!

I miss you, and I love you so much!

Looking Back to 1776

It’s the 4th of July. Known also to most of us in this country as Independence Day. 

And no, I’m not talking about the 1996 movie in which aliens invaded the earth to destroy it. Although sometimes I do wonder if we have some aliens here already masquerading as politicians, but that’s a debate for another time.

Today for most people in our country is a day off. A day we use to celebrate with cook outs, beach or pool or other backyard parties, flying the American flag if we have one, and then ending the day either setting off fireworks or crowding into parks and other areas to watch firework displays put on by whichever city or town we live in.

Sometimes we even remember why we celebrate this day. 

But I don’t think enough of us, and I’ll include myself, really stop to think why we recognize this day as being important in the history of our nation. Because we’ve known nothing but freedom in this country for our entire lives. We don’t stop to think about how hard fought that freedom really was.

Our nation was founded on a concept of freedom from tyranny, from another country that wanted to make those who came to these shores to begin a new life continue to live their lives under that country’s rule. 

And after a while, the colonists decided they’d had enough, and it was time to separate and form a new country. And they did. They risked their lives to start this country, to set in motion their dreams for a better life for their families and future generations. And they succeeded.

Now here we are today, some 246 long and challenging years later. 

And I wonder what the men who started that revolution, who dared to defy a then-mighty country who controlled those 13 little colonies…I wonder just what they’d have to say about our country today.

I dare say they wouldn’t begin to recognize what we’ve become. A nation united now becoming strongly divided between two political parties. Between two sets of ideas for what this country should be, each side with basically no respect for the other.

In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Most likely they’d say our government has become too powerful; too over-reaching into our daily lives, and trying to control too much of what we do and how we do it. There are too many laws, both federal and state, which attempt to restrict the freedoms they fought so hard for.

And definitely too many politicians running the governments who are only out for themselves instead of the people who voted them into office. Too many egos saying what people want to hear, getting into elected office, and then going along with whoever can help them make the most money and get re-elcted.

I think the founding fathers would be appalled. And I wonder if they wouldn’t try to maybe start another revolution of some sort to get us back on the right track?

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country. It’s not perfect, but it’s so much better than most of the others. 

We’re allowed to speak our minds when we don’t like what’s happening; many other countries don’t have that luxury. But we don’t have the right to riot, burn businesses, and use guns to kill those who disagree. Which is now happening far too often.

What would the founding fathers think of us now? They didn’t envision career politicians running this great land. They wanted everyday people to make those decisions. That’s not happening now.

Today let’s take a bit of time to reflect on what this day means, and what we can help do to get back to some of the basic ideas this country was founded on. 

I don’t know exactly how, but if all of us actually start to take the time to think about it, maybe we can accomplish something…at least for our children and grandchildren and all of the other future generations.

Thank about it. And have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Father’s Day Memories

Father’s Day has always been a difficult day for me. And for good reason.

Because my father died when I was only 8 years old. I don’t have a lot of memories of him. I really can’t remember celebrating Fathers Day with him, or Christmas, or my birthday. I was just too young, unfortunately. to have very many memories of him. 

What I do remember are bits and pieces. And why these particular memories stick with me I have no idea…except for the last one.

Like the time I heard him calling to my mom from our little chicken house in the back yard, “Rachel (my mom’s name), bring me my gun and bring it now! Don’t ask why!” I had no idea what was going on, even when I heard a loud shot. I found out later he’d gone out to the feed area to get the chicken feed for our little flock and a copperhead snake had lunged at him! Fortunately it missed him. And he took care of the snake so it wouldn’t ever be a threat to me or my mom.

I remember going out on the river in our hometown with him, just my dad and me, and going through a bunch of water lilies. They were so pretty. My mom didn’t go with us because she didn’t like going on boats. It was our time…my daddy and me. I had no idea at the time, and neither did he, that there weren’t going to be any more times like that.

I remember watching him in our garage when he was actually building his own boat. I wanted to help, but I was too little. But I watched him as often as I could, because I was fascinated with his woodworking. 

My dad was a talented carpenter who made some beautiful pieces of furniture for my mom, and a very special canopy doll bed that he had just finished and gave me for the last Christmas he was with us. I still have it, and soon I’ll be handling it down to our granddaughters; I’ve waited til they’re old enough to take care of it.

I also remember the last time I saw him. He’d been admitted to John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore because of excruciating headaches, and they were running tests on him to see what was wrong. My uncle drove my mom and me up to see him, and they doctors let him come down to the lobby to see us and visit. I remember him standing there in his yellow robe, and him telling me they were trying to make him better so he could get back home. I still remember talking to him and hugging him goodbye. 

Two days later my mom got a call in the middle of the night that they were going to do surgery on him, and she needed to be there. My uncle took her up there while my aunt took care of me.

The next thing I remember was seeing my mom walking up to the house with my uncle holding on to her. She was crying. And I’ll never forget her words to me: ”Your dad isn’t coming home anymore.”

I missed out on so many wonderful times we could’ve had, but so did my dad. He missed birthdays, Christmases, dance recitals, piano recitals. He missed teaching me to drive, my high school and college graduations. He missed out on walking me down the aisle, and probably would have kept me from making the first two wedding mistakes. He missed meeting his granddaughter Ashley, who he would have adored as much as my mother did.

My mother missed out on so much as well, being left to raise me by herself, while working full time and even going back to college without the help of her husband.  But she did it on her own, and I am still so very proud of her for it. 

She missed so many years of marriage with the only man she’d ever loved. And I missed out on having two parents who adored me. And in that time, some 60+ years ago, that was very unusual.

My uncle stepped in and acted as a surrogate father, and I loved him dearly, but he couldn’t totally take the place of my own daddy.

So on this Father’s Day, I want to remind all of you to cherish your dad, and your granddad, if you’re lucky enough to have him as well. Love them, celebrate them, and be thankful for them. Life is short, and tomorrow is not promised 

I know I will see my dad again one day, and I’ll share those moments with him that we missed, although my mom has most likely already filled him in.

Daddy, I love you, and I’ll miss you forever…until we meet again.

Happy Father’s Day!

A Memorial Day for the Fallen

Today is Memorial Day. A day set aside to honor those who have given their lives for this country. In countless wars and overseas conflicts. Brave men and women who gave their all.

They gave their lives to protect our freedoms. They went where our country sent them, and did what they needed to do. 

Did they question their reasons for going? I’m sure many did. But they went. Some returned and some didn’t. Today we honor those that didn’t return.

But I cannot help but ask us all to add another couple of categories of our citizens to remember and pay our respects to on this Memorial Day. Citizens who left home one day as usual and never returned.

Let’s remember the hundreds of first responders, police and firefighters as well as EMT’s who have also given their lives to save others. Oh, I know right now the police are under attack again for not doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s become a o popular sport in this country, unfortunately. And there will always be those officers who are in the wrong, but the majority are good people, who’ve dedicated themselves to such service, and those of them who’ve given their lives in the line of duty should be honored as well. It’s a job I wouldn’t want to do, and I am thankful for each and every one of them that have chosen to do it.

But I want us to also remember another group of people…innocent people who’ve been senselessly murdered by cowardly people with guns, out to spread their hatred and violence for whatever twisted and deranged parts of their minds that were urging them forward.

Innocent children. Worshippers in their chosen houses of God. Innocent shoppers in malls and grocery stores. Innocent concert goers who were enjoying a night of music. 

They unwillingly gave their lives because someone they didn’t even know decided they didn’t deserve to live.

And we continue on with our lives, thankful it wasn’t us.  

But such violence touches all of us in some way. It forever changes a part of us, and sometimes we don’t even realize it.

The awfulness of the last few days in this country will eventually be forgotten by the majority of the country, but never by the families and communities which have been devastated by the tragedy. Just like the families of our servicemen and women who were lost in combat, they will NEVER forget. Not a day will go by without a memory sneaking into their mind, and those memories are all they have left.

Today as most of us gather together with friends and family for picnics and parties, or go out to grab up the best Memorial Day sales, let’s take the time to remember those families who are grieving over their loved ones who will never attend such events again.

Remember the fallen, because they deserve never, ever to be forgotten. And remember the families who will also never forget.

Still Missing You

It’s now been almost sixteen years since I last spoke to you. Since I was last able to hug you and kiss you. Talk about life and share stories.

It’s been too long since I was last able to talk to you about things I was going through; that I needed your advice about. And there have been so very many times in these last almost 16 years that I’ve needed to talk to you. To tell you what’s going on. 

To tell you about our happy times. About your granddaughter’s wedding and her wonderful husband. To tell you about your two beautiful great granddaughters, one who’s named after you.

To tell you about your friends and what’s been going on in their lives.

To ask for your guidance and advice, because even though I’m an adult, and now a grandmother as well, I still want so much to be able to talk with you and ask for your help. 

Although I’ve been on my own without you for all this time, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still want your insight on life. I miss being able to talk about my problems with you. Because you always seemed to have the right answers, whether I understood it at the time or not.

You and I survived the untimely loss of my father together. You were there for me while your own heart was shattered into a zillion pieces, and while I didn’t totally understand the whole situation and what it meant, since I was only 8 years old, you hid so much pain from me so I could have as normal a childhood as possible, with you being mom as well as dad to me.

It wasn’t until I lost you that I discovered all the challenges and problems you faced during that time. You never told me, and I’d never asked.

You helped me through two painful divorces and never once criticized my choices. You helped me through heartbreak and encouraged me that I’d eventually find the right one. And you were right.

You were with me when my husband Ben went through his first open heart surgery, at a time when that was not a common operation. You were probably as worried as I was, but you never told me. You only encouraged me and assured me he’d be okay. And he was.

You supported me in the pain of infertility; you rejoiced with me when I finally got pregnant and gave you a granddaughter. And you suffered with me when I had a tubal pregnancy which caused me to lose the babies I was carrying, and almost caused me to lose my mind. Because you knew exactly how I felt, because you’d had the same problems, but had kept them all to yourself.

You loved your granddaughter unconditionally and did everything you could for her. And you would have been so very happy to see her married and now with two little girls of her own.

So many times I’ve wanted to be able to tell you. To share with you, and ask what advice you could give in so many situations. Or just listen to me share my joys as well as my worries.

I miss you so much. Holidays and family times are still not the same without you. I still miss your smile, your presence, and your unconditional love. I still dream about your being with us, and wake up wondering if that dream was sent to me to remind me you’re still watching over me. There are even times, when out of nowhere, I clearly hear your voice saying my name. 

I will continue to miss you because we are part of each other. I will always love you. And I will never forget you.

And I know the day will come when we are together again. Until then,

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.

It’s Not About the Bunnies

For the last several weeks, all I’ve seen are these cute little bunnies, colored eggs, decorative Easter baskets, tiered tray designs with marshmallow peeps and chocolate eggs, and all kinds of other decorative items. All my favorite craft stores are full of bunnies and baby chicks, colored plastic eggs, garland and all manner of craft ideas. Then there are the grocery stores and candy stores with all the chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs and more marshmallow peeps, you know, that colorful nothing-but-sugar concoction that’s been around since we were kids! I didn’t like them, then, either.  But I do like those Cadbury eggs!

And you can even buy or make Easter ornaments and decorate your own Easter tree, sort of like a Christmas tree. As you may have seen, I decided to make styrofoam Easter trees this year with mini Ester eggs and decorative grass, They turned out great, and I even made two for our grandchildren.

Then there’s the Easter Bunny. Our granddaughters haven’t been real fond of having their pictures taken with him in the past, and this year hasn’t been any different. But we do like the memories with those not so wonderful pictures, and I’m sure they’ll get a laugh out of those pictures in the next few years. Or maybe not.

Yes, it’s almost Easter. And EVERYONE associates bunnies with Easter, right? Along with the colored Easter eggs, of course. And those previously mentioned marshmallow peeps. In all the colors. And now there are new flavors, I hear. Please, no.

But, as I like to remind us all every year at this time…it’s not about the bunnies. Or the colored eggs. Or the Easter egg hunts.

From what I’ve been able to determine, the legend of the Easter Bunny bringing eggs seems to have been brought to our country by settlers from southwestern Germany in the 1800’s. Since that time the Easter Bunny has gradually become the commercially recognized symbol of Easter.

Folklore tells us the Easter Bunny brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy, and sometimes even toys to children the night before Easter. Sometimes the baskets might be hidden, and the children have to go and find them. Most likely, that’s how the tradition of the Easter egg hunt began.

But it’s still not about the bunnies. And here’s where I take a few minutes to express my feelings

To those of us who are believers, Easter is about one thing. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. The very name of the holiday may have come from an ancient holiday depicting the rites of spring, or rebirth from the bleakness of winter, but to us, it represents much more than a rebirth of the world. Easter is a celebration of the eternal life we have waiting for us when we leave this earth. In fact, our belief in the resurrection is the very foundation of our faith.

John 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

While Jesus was conducting his ministry on earth, He told His disciples what would happen to Him in order to fulfill the ancient scriptures, but of course, they really didn’t believe Him, and even tried to prevent it. Until they saw the truth for themselves.

We have read about the agony of the crucifixion. We have seen it depicted in countless movies and plays, sometimes in such a gruesome manner we have to look away. But the real crucifixion was much more gruesome than can be portrayed in a movie or a play. And our Lord suffered the most horrific pain, so we will be eternally with Him in heaven, along with all of our friends and family who also believe.

What a wonderful, unselfish, beautiful story. As wonderful as the Christmas story is, the Easter message is so much better. Because in this story, death is defeated for all time. The baby that was born at Christmas has grown up, became a man who is the son of God himself, and gave His very life to save ours, and has now defeated death itself.

Just imagine…the loved ones we have lost we will see again, and be reunited with them. We will know them, and they will know us, and we will be together. We will be eternal beings along with the Lord. And what a glorious day that will be! And just think of all the catching up there will be; and all the family members we will meet that we never knew before.

Many of us have lost family members and friends over the past couple of years, as well as many years ago. And I admit there are still times that I think about those loved ones, and how wonderful it will be to one day be with them again. To enjoy the serenity and peace of that heavenly home with those that I love the most. Because the Lord has said it, and I believe it.

You may choose to believe, or not. That is your choice, But I do believe, and I know in my heart there is so much more to come that we cannot imagine, because of what happened during this Easter season. No, it’s not about the bunnies. Yes, they’re cute and cuddly. But the true Easter story isn’t cute and cuddly. It’s real, and it’s not pretty. But it’s also the greatest love story that ever took place.

Crafting an Egg Tree

An Easter Egg tree, that is!

After doing my wine cork Christmas trees, I still had a few styrofoam cones left over and was wondering if there was anything I could do with them besides save them for next year.

Then I looked on Pinterest. There were a lot of Easter Egg trees in there, but they were either all made with pieces of ribbon or those big plastic colored eggs that open up to put candy in. That didn’t really do it for me. Too big and bulky.

So now that I had an idea…how to carry it out? And when I have an idea, I don’t rest until I figure a way to do it.

So I decided to check out my first go-to stop for non-jewelry making projects. Dollar Tree, of course. And luckily they had bags of small pastel colored foam Easter eggs. How perfect! I didn’t have a clue as to how many I’d need, but I figured I’d make several different sized trees, so I’d start with 12 bags. Each had a dozen eggs in them, so I figured I was good.

Then I realized I needed something for the top. I couldn’t use my leftover Christmas tree stars for Easter, but I found some Easter bunny heads on dowel sticks, probably designed for sticking in flower pots, but they were perfect for my trees!

Pleased as I could be with my purchases, I went home and planned my tree. The next day I set up on my kitchen counter and got to work. I don’t use hot glue in my craft studio because it’s too messy and my craft table has a tablecloth on it, and well, you can imagine what a mess that could turn out to be!

Gluing on the eggs was fairly simple; just time consuming. I hadn’t counted, though, on the glue dripping slightly through the eggs on the bottom row and sticking to the counter (it didn’t do that with the wine corks!). Fortunately dried hot glue isn’t that hard to get off if you do it quickly.

What I  hadn’t thought about, though, was how many of those little eggs it took to complete a tree. I’d started making a medium sized one which was almost finished when I realized I probably hadn’t bought enough eggs to quite finish two trees. Oops!

Then I remembered I’d bought over half of the bags of eggs they had at the dollar store, and I knew if I waited, I wouldn’t be able to get enough to make all the trees I wanted to do.

So I headed back to the store and got…eight bags. All they had left. Now what?

Fortunately there was another dollar store a mile or so away so I headed there, hoping they still had them. And as luck would have it, they did!

I bought 32 bags. Almost all they had in the store! I think the cashier thought I’d lost my mind. And I probably had.

But now I had enough to make another set of three trees as well as two more small ones for our granddaughters!

Egg tree assembly is really fairly easy as you can see from the pictures below. You just glue the eggs on in a row starting from the bottom. There will be gaps because of their shape, so I used bits of green moss to fill in the areas where the foam showed through. It’s a bit messy, but when the hot glue dries, trim the moss up as needed. And now you’re ready to put your bunny toppers on. I cut the dowel sticks off the bunny heads from the dollar store and substituted floral wire to make it easier to stick in the foam. And please pardon the quality of the pictures, because I just don’t get the best pictures when I’m creating at the same time!

And one last hint. These take a lot of hot glue, so be sure you have enough glue sticks on hand! I lost count of how many times I had to refill my glue gun! But at least it’s now ready for my next project!