I Wish You Enough

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December skies

My last blog for 2012

I continue to be amazed of the people who God puts in my path. This day was no different.

I decided at the last-minute to stop and see an old friend on my way to do some errands. So, with a Christmas card and homemade goodies in hand, the intent is to stop and speak for a short moment, since it’s been awhile since my last visit. I almost put off this visit, because I am really in a bit of a hurry. Thank you God, for slowing me down, for the unction of your Spirit to make the time.

My friend is 87. He looks tired today. (Slow me down, Lord..He seems burdened.)

He greets us in the same kind manner as he has for the past 20 some years, but today, he can’t stop his tears from the moment of hello. (Show me Lord, what can I do)

~Listen~

I continue to ask how he is doing. He has been through many losses in a very short period of time. He is 11th in a family of 13 siblings. He continues to tell me how he has already buried a son years ago, most of his family, and painfully,  a son in the last six months. His his dear wife passed away within the last few years. He continues to strive to care for the only child left…his mentally disabled son.  (Give me words of comfort, Lord)

I struggle to hold my composure (He’s broken, Lord)

I ask if there is anything that he needs? I let him know that we are here for him. He becomes silent, only tears.

He begins to say that what he has to tell me is not for sympathy..but for much-needed prayer.

He has recently been diagnosed with yet another form of cancer. This time, he will not humanly conquer.

His prayer request is specific – that he would live long enough to care for his disabled son. (Show him mercy, Lord)

If you read this blog…I am asking you to call out my dear old friends name in prayer. I am also asking you to “slow down” enough to recognize the needs of those that God puts in your path. We are our brothers’ keeper.

Lastly, I wish each of you a Merry Christmas….and mostly I wish you “Enough” through one of my favorite pieces of poetry…May God Bless you during the coming year.

I Wish You Enough

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude  bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun  more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit  alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys  in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your  wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that  you possess.

I wish you enough “Hello’s” to get you  through the final “Goodbye.”

Christmas in Heaven

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Christmas is almost here. I have blogged about great times with family, my favorite things, and delighted in making our favorite treats. I love Christmas.

I also have become more fully aware of the other side of the holidays as I grow older. Despair, loneliness, and memories of those that are no longer here.

Honestly, Christmas is a time that many people would rather sleep through and avoid, praying for January to roll on in.

I understand this fully. My prayers are with you.

What would we have without our memories? Good memories also include the ones of despair and loneliness. It’s how life works, making a way for us to enjoy the great ones, it often bring lessons we’ve learned from the previous.

I write mushy, emotional blogs I know. I have written about Christmas more than any other. While it may appear that all is glorious for me during this season, sometimes nothing is further from the truth. I, as many of  you, struggle with keeping my holiday spirit. I have always asked God to help me use my struggles to be more sympathetic toward others that walk down some of my same paths. He continues to do this faithfully. Today, I am trusting that He will use this blog.

I grew up in a loving environment. I was very blessed with the family that I had been given. I had great family members, and awesome friends. I had more than one “best friend” for this I am truly thankful.

One of my “bestest” friends throughout my life was a close relative. My grandmother, Birdie. I am her namesake. (okay this is major for those that didn’t know my first name!! LOL) I called her “mamaw” or “granny”

She was my friend. Other than my own mother, she was the epitome of “unconditional love” that I experienced. I would stay at her home continually. On the way home from school, it was my first stop before reaching home. Everyday. I spent most weekends with her. She made me hot tea, played checkers until I couldn’t hold my eyes open. She kept an open jar of salted peanuts close by as we watched Bonanza together most evenings, snuggled around her coal stove.

She never allowed anyone to make fun of my name. She knew all too well what this was like. She asked my mother not to name me after her for this reason, but it was given to me out of love. Today, it has become a pet name for me at times…and I don’t mind it anymore.

Time passes, and we think that things will always remain the same. We learn differently.

I fast forward to the year I  am 17 years old, enjoying time at the beach with my family. My grandmother didn’t like the water or sand, but she enjoyed being with us. She doesn’t feel well. We decide to shorten our beach time and come home. Life changes in an instant. It doesn’t wait for convenience, a more appropriate time. I remind myself daily of this. It only takes one diagnosis, one phone call, or one tragic moment to change your course.

We spend the next months battling. Caring. Rearranging life to make hers better. My senior year of high school is only half day. I drive home everyday so my mother can sleep. She stays by her mother’s bedside, awake and continuing to care and comfort. She is exhausted physically and it takes its toll on all of us. Extended family, immediate family, friends of our family, they all do what they can.

It’s December. Presents have all been wrapped and under the tree. We all tried to function normally. There is no normal this year. My grandmother would continue to tell us Merry Christmas every day for weeks.

She loved Christmas as much as I do. She made pacts with me as a child concerning presents. She unwrapped things and carefully re-wrapped. She could not contain herself. We would eventually learn to refrain from putting them under the tree, keeping her out of them. We sure had some giggles over presents!

The month of December was a mixed bag of emotions for us that year. Everyday was lived like it would be her last. She was tired. She told us she just wanted to go home. I was selfish, I told her she couldn’t go yet.. it was almost Christmas and she had no clue this year what her presents were! She would smile and only whisper “I love you, niecy” but she never told me she would stay.

I was not in her room that evening. I had chosen to sit with family in our living room. The only indication was the sound of my own mother’s sobs.

On Christmas Eve, she made her journey. She would experience Christmas in a way that we couldn’t fathom. She was home.

A joyous occasion for her, but one that left many scars on my family. We would ignore the sight of our tree, the presents left there until way past January. Life had happened – the ugly part. Christmas was never the same for my mother. I understand this part of her now.

I understand this for my friends…my other family members that experience the lonely part of the season. I have shared my heart for this very reason today. I can say that it doesn’t go away with time, but it does get a little more bearable. Moments and memories become your comfort, your lifeline. God pours into your very soul, peace – the kind that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

My prayer is that you hold on to that peace. Surround yourself in it. Know that I share your pain..but more importantly, I share your promise of peace during this holiday season.

In closing, I am sharing my favorite lyrics from the song “Christmas in Heaven” may you tresasure this glimpse of God’s grace and peace….

Is the snow falling down on the  streets of gold

Are the  mansions all covered in white

Are you singing with angels silent night

I wonder….. what Christmas in Heaven is  like.

These are a Few of My Favorite Things…..

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pumpkin roll

I have so many Christmas favorites. I do not know where to begin. I have already had to remove some songs from my iPod, just to have enough memory for my Christmas music! Yes, I have tons of music. It isn’t enough that most local radio stations are playing the music twenty-four hours a day now. I have favorite Christmas movies, books and even commercials. I did mention earlier that my daughter and I love Christmas, right?

Every year I take the requests for their favorite Christmas dessert, candy, etc. For my husband, it happened to be “tater candy” – pure sugar is all I can sum that up to..the kind that you need a glass of milk just to get it down!  My daughter couldn’t think of anything she really had to have except for a Pumpkin Roll- not my specialty, but yes, I made it just for her.

tater candy

Normally, I save the last week before Christmas to finish last minute shopping and baking. I am a few days into it and I already find myself thinking about which dessert or candy that I really want? I just can’t decide. We have vowed to do a little something every day, just to celebrate the season.

Maybe I will try Peanut Butter Delight? Hmm.. I think the weather interferes with that one. I thought about just fudge? I thought maybe I would try to make Rice Krispy Treats? Nah…..about the time I was pondering my favorite confection? My phone rings. “Do you want some Hot Apple Cider? I immediately say yes!

I make this cider, but it seldom ever turns out the same for me. Some things are just better when someone else makes it! Especially, when you consider it a holiday tradition? My sister in law, Teresa- makes the best! There is just something about anticipating the joy of one of your favorite things.

cider

I hope that you find it possible to enjoy some of your favorites this Christmas. It really seems to keep the joy in the midst of everything. Life is busy, this time of year is extremely busy! No humbugs here. Our intention is  to enjoy every minute, a few favorites, and even a  story or two from Christmas past! Time will quickly pass, and we will be back to our usual soon enough. Make the most of your moments!

So, sit down occasionally, share one of your favorites with someone.. Make some memories and  don’t forget to look for your favorite things! Merry Christmas!… only one more week! And, thanks again Teresa- for providing one of my “favorite things” this season.

The Ties that Bind

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I am often reminded that family ties can be broken. Life happens, people come and go in your life for reasons and seasons. Some by choice, and some by circumstances. There are some ties that cannot be broken, they are part of the thread of who you are, the ones that never unravel.

Many parts of my family circle have been severed. Many have left this earthly home to be a part of another. I have had those that made a choice to severe the threads, toss them out for a new garment, not worthy of doing the mending. The ties that bind, are just that… whether you are a tattered thread, or a three-chord strand, that is not easily broken, they each remain woven as a part. I am thankful that I have more ties that bind than those that do not. I am blessed beyond measure by these, they are my treasures in my circle of life.

Cousins are so much a part of most people’s lives. I could write an actual book here, a comedy, a drama, or even a suspense novel. I had great ones! but there is always that “one” that ties you to everything you were, and everything you are presently.

We were Daddy’s girls from the beginning. Our Dad’s were brothers, who happened to have married sisters. It has truly been a circle with no beginning and no end. Constant. We were each other’s favorite lifelong playmate, we never spent enough time together. Weeks together or weekends would always find us crying and begging our parents for one more day of visiting. Our mother’s hated for the visits to come to an end.. partly because they knew they would be dealing with the two of us wailing and holding on to one another for dear life.  We are double first cousins (funny I know)..but we deemed one another sisters from toddlerhood. We still do.

We have history,  lifelong stories that we often share with our own daughters. Who knew that frog gigging and eating an entire block of Velveeta cheese would bring a burst of laughter to this day. We visited each others schools at the end of the year for “visitor” day..Have had one another’s back in a girl fight more than I can count. We devised every scheme possible to fully enjoy our summers together, to make time last. Really, who else would agree to ride on the senior citizen bus route with our Uncle Jr.-  just so we could go to town and get out of that holler? only to find that the idea of getting an iced cold pop, meant stopping by the roadside and buying a hot watermelon-thanks Uncle Jr.

We grew up together, although we lived hours apart. We have cried together, laughed together, sang together….even planned to live in an apartment together when we could drive, eating only our favorite foods of soup beans, and pizza!  We had plans to go to flight attendant school together! We shared our dreams together always. I am thankful that our mother’s made such painstakingly efforts to see that we spent time together. They never worried about us being together so much that we began to get tired of one another and argue. It never happened. After 40 some years, we have yet to share a cross word.

Being named after my own mother before I was born, the tie was formed and tightly bonded. There is no way that my mother could have foreseen what a blessing her namesake would become to her in the years that would follow. She would have walked through fire for my mother.. in ways, she did just that many times.  I will never be capable of repaying her for that kindness.

We have both experienced the losses of our parents..our Dad’s first.. followed by our Mothers passing within a month of each another. We have often remarked that they always wanted to be together, just like us. They spend every holiday together now, eternally.  Our family circles have been broken here, but our ties continue to bind us.

I am blessed to still have this tie. I depend on it. Although we see seldom see one another face to face, our ties do not waver. Years and miles have not been able to separate our bond with one another. She is real with me. I never question her intentions toward me, if they are superficial or fake. If you have a sister..you already know this bond… ours just happens to have had different parents…

The ties that bind…. are important. They are what holds you together when the world attempts to make you unravel. Sometimes they are your last thread of hope. Take some time – soon – to strengthen your ties that bind… try not to discard the ones that are a little “frayed” on the edges… unattended, it will only continue to unravel…If you sew, you already realize that sometimes severely frayed edges need to be cut to prevent further damage…I pray that you will know the difference.

Christmas Stockings

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stocking

“Great Stocking Stuffer” written across the sale inserts in my newspaper. There are gadgets galore, trinkets and every kind of novelty candies you can think of in today’s flyer. I notice that every year the stocking stuffer items become larger and larger until the stockings need to be replaced with Santa “Sacks”

It has been hard for me to get used to the whole stocking stuffer chaos. Things that are placed in stockings now, would have been one of my major Christmas gifts growing up. Times sure have changed.

My brother and I would always get to open our gifts on Christmas Eve except for one that we would choose to save for Christmas morning. Milk and cookies were the last thing we would do before being made to go to bed…sometimes we would write Santa a note.

Early rising was the usual ritual, we had to see the evidence of cookie crumbs left on the plate, sometimes a reply from our Santa note (thanks Dad) –  we all knew your handwriting. We would take our stockings down and dig through them. I don’t really know why? because our stockings always contained the same thing year after year, fruit and nuts! We didn’t expect anything other than fruit and nuts, but we still looked forward to it. We enjoyed cracking them open, to reveal a full-sized nut.. it proved you were crafted in this area after a few years of experience.

I am not a huge fan of eating oranges, but I do love to smell them. I think it takes me back to those Christmas mornings. I would peel the oranges for Dad, he would eat them..and let me toss them into the grate in the fireplace. Other than the fact that it was just sort of our fascination with watching stuff burn in the fireplace, it smelled wonderful! Nutshells were not all that exciting to watch smolder, but the orange peels took on a whole different look. Okay, so I still have some WV pyromania in me…even at Christmas.

I can’t help but feel a little melancholy when the stockings are emptied at my home on Christmas morning. Who knows what treasures and trinkets will be in there for my daughter….usually a card for my husband and the coal that I leave in there year after year..oops.. I think this year I may fill my own stocking with fruit and nuts, as a reminder that although it is nothing new, it is still an  anticipated treasure.

Make your Christmas moments last…find what speaks to the child in you and revive it again this year, even if it is as simple as fruit and nuts!

The White Horse

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white horse

It has been a surreal week. I continue to be amazed how God uses His creation to speak to my heart. He often speaks through beautiful skies, amazing landscapes and sometimes just the simple laughter of a child. This week, it just so happened to be a horse..a white horse.

It has been a little past six months that I have been taking my daughter to riding lessons. It has went by quickly, unless you count the months that she has been trying to hide from her Pa that she has been taking lessons. He has been her teacher since day one, a bond that they continue to have. He has been physically unable to make the trip here for a while, disappointment often plagues them both. Unknowingly, he asks her from week to week, “Have you been riding much” referring to their horses here. She tells him not much, which is truth, only because we seldom have the opportunity to ride in the evenings. She doesn’t tell him about riding lessons. Her hope is to surprise him when he comes to visit. She wants him to be here, to show him her progress. He tells her she should be riding more, she agrees….but for now, it is painstakingly her “secret.”

We continue riding lessons once a week. She has ridden a few different horses, but last week, her teacher brings out a different horse. I am overwhelmed at the sight of her new riding partner. I struggle to maintain my composure. My thoughts immediately turn to the previous conversations between her and Pa. Stories from the Bible about the rider of the white horse.. Scripture from Revelation 19 floods my spirit. “I saw Heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” I was also reminded of something that she told me a couple of years ago about her and Pa getting to ride “White Horses” in heaven. It was symbolic to me to say the least.  Do I think they will ride in Heaven one day? maybe?  but I do know what I felt in my heart when I saw this animal.  Confirmation. God is Faithful and True. The White Horse represents something more pure than I can imagine. It represents a promise.  I look forward to the day when sicknesses, and the distant miles will no longer separate us from those we love.

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Although the horse she rides currently is a much older one, it still speaks volume to me. The White Horse is symbolic.  It is still strong, almost timeless. Watching her ride this week, I am flooded with emotions. How I wish Pa were here to see how far she has come these last few months. I will continue to capture as much as possible in photographs, but nothing will compare to the first time he witnesses her improved riding in person. May God grant us that opportunity.

I can’t help but think that she senses it too. Anticipation…improving as much as she can, enjoying every minute riding the white horse. I am so thankful that God allowed me such a heart-warming glimpse this week through his creation.

Ride on sweet girl, continuing to show me more than I thought possible through your eyes, and the beauty of riding the white horse.