Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When Seasons End ~ Scenes from a Blessed Life



Dear friends, as I write, the morning is new. I am sitting at my desk, just me, my coffee, and my thoughts. Growing up, my dad used to tell me that if I missed the morning I missed the best part of the day. As a teenager who engaged in sleep marathons during summer months, I considered his summation a whole lot of hogwash. Through the years, however, I came to realize how right those words are. Mornings whisper to my spirit. Their quiet hours have a pureness about them that can’t be duplicated, a pureness that I crave and seek out.


The last few days have brought sighs and smiles, starting with Saturday when my parents drove over to spend the day. Yes, dear old dad is still able to drive and I dread the day when some brave soul may have to tell him he can't. Sparks will fly, but for now he remains the chief navigator. Blessed is what we are.

My sweet mother delivered the pillowcases she had made for the both of us to send to Kelley's Pillowcase Project. I love them all and encourage you to participate in this worthy cause.

As summer draws to a close, I must say it’s been a one-of-a-kind summer for us—not in temperatures, but in personal matters that stretch your faith and test your patience. There have been comings and goings, here a little, there a little, time spent away from home, from church, from family, and time spent away from all of you. 



But yesterday, as happens around this time every year, there on the ground lay the first sign that a new season is on its way, that nothing lasts forever, not even the state of limbo. (And let the people shout, "Hallelujah and amen!")

It was only a small thing, but I felt a stirring in my spirit as I imagined the coming days when the smell of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven will waft through the house. When, on brisk evenings, homemade soups will fill heavy pots on the stove, and cornbread will tumble out of an iron skillet, golden brown and piping hot, just waiting to be slathered with butter.

Sometimes, it's the promise of what is to come that gives us the courage to accept what is, to let go of what was, and to keep moving forward. 

Until next time, sweet friends, your company remains a pleasure. May the final days of summer be slow and easy and filled to the brim with all of the things that make you smile.


***


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Celebrating 34 Years with The Man ~ Still Traveling On

Early in our marriage, it was clear The Man dreamed of journeying coast-to-coast, strolling along distant beaches and sipping gourmet coffee in cafés nestled in the shadows of mountain peaks. He taught me about maps and compasses and sun dials. Many nights I discovered him fast asleep on the sofa, a road atlas pressed against his chest. I dared not wake him. I knew he was dreaming of secluded log cabins and old landmarks in ancient cities.

As time and duties allowed—usually once a yearhe charted a course that carried the two of us to fascinating and enchanting places. 

After our daughter was born, he worked two jobs so I could stay home and raise the gift God had given us. Still, he always made time and figured out a way to go and see and do. I remember pink sunsets along Florida's emerald coast, gathering rocks from a cold creek in the Great Smoky Mountains, riding the Spirit of Vicksburg down the mighty Mississippi River, marveling at autumn's palette in upstate New York, sleeping under the stars at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, and staring in silent wonder at the sight and sound of Niagara Falls.

The Man has always been a roamer and a traveler at heart and after retirement in 2008, our lives changed, as our travels increased significantly. There were sunrises over the Atlantic, sunsets over the Pacific, and collecting seashells along Cape Cod’s sandy shore. There was the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island. There was the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, and the National Mall in Washington D.C. I remember outdoor cafés in Colorado and crowded subways in Chicago. 

Friday was our anniversary. We never know when we've made our last voyage, nor what another year will hold, not even another day, but for 34 years now, from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, to New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, and almost every Major League Baseball park in the country, I've been blessed by God to have The Man as my captain and my companion. Whatever the future holds, I can’t imagine sharing this journey through life with anyone else but him.


***


Adapted from the essay, "You must share agony to share the celebration," published in The Dallas Morning News commemorating our 20th wedding anniversary in August, 2000. 

I find it amazing how prophetic it was and how relevant it remains, 14 years later.




Friday, August 1, 2014

Exciting News, First Installment

Dear friends, the first installment of the exciting news I've been teasing you with can now be revealed. If things stay on course, and the good Lord is willing, The Man and I are going to be grandparents on or around February 27, 2015! 


As I witnessed my daughter's first ultrasound yesterday morning, and beheld this tiny being, bouncing around, waving teeny-tiny hands in the air, with a fast and strong heartbeat, my tears spilled over and I fell instantly in love. You grandmothers already know that feeling, don't you? The miracle of life never gets old.

With my grandnieces, sugar plum and pie, in my life, I have plenty of experience, and I'm now looking forward to holding my own grandchild (boy or girl doesn't matter) in my arms. 


Upon hearing the news that my grandbaby was on the way (we first got the news on my daughter's birthday, no less), my heart has been full and my hands have been in motion. 


Believe me, I'm not an expert at crocheting, but I can read a pattern and stitch by stitch, with multiple unravelings in between, I hope to end up with something similar to this. The Man walked through the living room the other night, only to find me unraveling yet another strip, and asked, "You think you're gonna finish that by February?" Ah, such faith he has in me.

One of the first things my daughter asked me was, "Mom, what sweet name are you going to call my baby?" I thought that was the sweetest thing, and I remember my niece asking the same question when she was pregnant with the little one I now call pie. I assured my daughter that this baby would have its own special name, and it will.

There will be challenges along the way, no doubt, but we're in good hands. The giver of life holds all of our tomorrows and I've learned that He can be trusted.

I should have other exciting news in the weeks to come, but that is more than enough for now. Until next time, sweet peeps, I'm fairly beaming.


***


Monday, July 28, 2014

The State of the Little Nieces

Dear ones, I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thanks for all of your welcome-back notes and comments. I read them in the quiet hours of night and it was like being surrounded by friends. While I didn’t trumpet our arrival home, The Man and I are home from our time away, at least for now, and hope to be back in the full swing of routines before too long. It’s been a season like no other and sometimes it takes awhile to find your balance again, but soon, very soon.

I’ve not blogged about my adorable grand-nieces in some time. Are you ready for major cuteness and such?


I spent a few precious hours with pie on Friday—the first time I’ve seen her since our turnaround trip home three weeks ago.


It’s clear her charm has not faded since we’ve been apart, and the chocolate cookie smudges on her face made her even more charming. She is walking up a storm, did I mention?


This baby’s smile lights up a room and beyond.


And her continued love of books makes her writer-aunt’s heart leap for joy. 

When she gets quiet, you can find her in her little chair looking at books. And the best part is she will let you read to her for a very long time.

The last time we chatted about pie, she was on the eve of having to enter daycare, and it was killing me and her mom and her Nonni and all of those who love her. What I haven’t told you is that God answered our prayers and pie has yet to spend a single day in daycare, for which we are most grateful. She is in the care of a seasoned nanny at the time of this writing and that is, in part, due to your faithful prayers. So, thank you, more than you know, thank you.


While we were away, pie celebrated her first birthday. Yes, already. Looks like we missed a lot of fun, doesn't it? 


Then there is my adorable sugar plum. What can I say that I haven’t said about this child? She fills my world and my heart with pure joy. On Thursday, we spent a few precious hours together. She's not much into wanting her picture taken these days, but I managed a couple anyway. 

We made pancakes and played and laughed and talked. My favorite line was when she put her arm around me and said, "Aunt Dayle, I love you so, so much." I keep asking myself how I ever got this lucky.


I want to squeeze her tight and put a lid on her head in an effort to stop her from growing up. I simply cannot believe she will turn four in a few months, but that is what little ones do—they grow up right before your very eyes, ready or not. I'm so blessed to be her great-aunt.


Sugar plum's summer has included a trip with her mom and dad, and her nanna (whom she adores) along for the ride. Here they are, sharing sweet memories together.

***

As I mentioned in my last post, there are some exciting things on the horizon, Lord willing, and I will share more about those in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the days are bright and hot, as summers tend to be in my little woods.


Until next time, know that I think of you and cherish our conversations.

***




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello and oh my! What happened to July?

While I was sleeping, July has whizzed right on by me. Not that I was sleeping but it does seem that way some months. You close your eyes and it's gone.

I’ve missed my time spent with you and wanted to stop in and say a quick hello.


Do you remember this little sewing table? Probably not, but I couldn’t resist painting it after seeing how much it disappeared into the tan-ish sofa. 



I think this barn red adds a wonderful pop of color, don't you?

Well, I hate to post and run, dear friends, but I must for now. I can’t wait to stop by and see what you’ve been up to in July. 

As for me, there are a few exciting things on the horizon and I will share more about those soon … if anyone still visits me here.

Until next time, keep cool and carry on.

***




Thursday, July 3, 2014

For this Child we Prayed ~ Happy Birthday to Her!

Our beautiful daughter turned 28 on the 28th day of June. For this child, we prayed, and the Lord granted our petition, special delivery, a precious jewel from God. 


She has filled our hearts and our home with joy! 
I am blessed every day to be her mother.


Before she was born, whenever The Man and I said grace at the table we joined hands. But one of our hands always remained empty. And I remember imagining having a plump little hand nestled in our empty ones and how only then would a complete circle be formed around the table—our very own family circle.


When a child is born, so is a family, and I’m thankful to God that our little family circle remains unbroken, our history all in one frame. We are so very blessed.


On Monday, The Man and I made a turnaround trip home to surprise the birthday girl at her family birthday dinner. It was so worth it. She let out a little scream when we walked in and Julian said his heart "skipped a beat or two." (I love that kid!)

My amazing twin sister, Gayle, hosted the event. She had the tables and walls decorated with photos of Anna through the years. Yes, I shed a few tears remembering the special child who unexpectedly came into our lives 28 years ago, and how thankful I am for the family who embraced her. 

I told The Man just the other day, "We are rich in all the things that matter." Those who have a supportive family understand what that means.

Until next time, sweet friends, may these days of summer find you cool and calm.


***


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Postcards from the Road ~ Scenes from a Blessed Life

When The Man and I rolled out of town on June 9th, we weren’t sure how long we’d be gone and now a week has turned to two and we are still here, finding joy in the peaceful surroundings and slow days in a city we’ve come to know and love in the last three decades.

I'm sure I've told you before, but our first trip to the lovely San Antonio was in 1980 (our honeymoon destination) and there isn't much we've not done or seen in these here parts. 


On Tuesday, we visited again the magnificent must-see Japanese Tea Garden. There's no entry fee and its history is rich, dating back more than 90 years. Yes, the carving says, "Chinese Tea Garden," but that's all part of the history. It is currently undergoing renovations, but is expected to be complete during the summer months. If you go to San Antonio, don't leave without seeing this unique and peaceful place.


It was here at these very gardens that my in-laws strolled around during their honeymoon in 1947, a fact I still find fascinating.

***

Yesterday, I woke at daylight to the sound of rain, not the soothing rain that lulls you back to sleep, but a heavy rain accompanied by blasts of thunder so loud you could feel it under your feet. I crawled out of bed and found The Man already awake, a quilt wrapped around him on the sofa. He was trying to find a weather update but the DirecTV signal kept coming and going.


I do enjoy an occasional stormy day. I know that doesn't surprise you since I’ve made mention of it aplenty in previous conversations. While it rained, I looked out at the trees and the neighboring campers on the left, who for unknown reasons had the door of their RV wide open. I could see them sitting at a table playing a game of cards.

I jotted down my recent thoughts in a journal, and prayed for friends and family who are in need. I made a pot of strong coffee, and while the grits I’ve been craving simmered their way to done, I cracked two eggs in a skillet and found a certain pleasure in their sizzle.

I love the experiences that RV camping brings, and I am grateful to God for His undeserved favor in allowing us this opportunity. We don’t take it for granted.


There are days when having Diesel along for the ride grates on my last nerve, and then there are days when I’m grateful he is here, because he and The Man are very best friends. And sometimes, you just need the company of a friend, one who loves you unconditionally and thinks you hung the moon.


To show you what I mean when I say it was a stormy, rainy morning, the top photo is what this area (just feet from our campsite) looked like after the storm broke; the bottom photo is what it looked like  the day before. The water has completely covered the walking path and spilled out onto the grassy banks.

More rain is predicted. Should we need to evacuate, we will seek higher ground, but as I write the sun is shining and children are out riding their bikes. I have opened a window and can see the swollen Salado Creek flowing swiftly to places unknown. New neighbors have just rolled in across the way, and I have laundry that needs to be dealt with.

As you can see, there's not much of great interest to share these days, but I wanted to stop in and say hello and see how you are doing, now that summertime has arrived.

Until next time, dear friends, I hope you are well and that your worries are few.

***


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