Monday, October 24, 2016

Considering a Change, and a Question for You

Dear friends, I have been batting an idea around for several months and here it is: I’m thinking of making big changes to my blog, only leaving it up as a professional presence online, rather than a space to document my personal life. 

Before making a final decision, I have a question:

Have any of you had books made from your blog? 

Doing the "blog2print" thing is something I would consider doing, prior to deleting my blog posts, in order to maintain the parts of my life that aren’t recorded in a journal somewhere, specifically, from the time of my granddaughter’s birth in 2015. It would kinda sorta replace scrapbooking, if you will, since I'm only a year-and-a-half behind.

When I shared the idea of calling it quits with twin sister, her question to me was, “Why?” I gave her a couple of quick reasons, but after thinking about it longer I think the main reason is because I’m lacking fresh inspiration. It’s as if everything I want to say I've already said. Oh, I could whine that I don’t have time to blog, and sometimes that's close to the truth, but if I had fresh inspiration I would make time, because that’s what we do; we make time for the things, and the people, we consider important.

If I were to shut down the blogging aspect of my space, I would still be around on Facebook and would welcome you to join me there, where I'm already friends with a few of my blogging buddies. 

In the next few weeks, I plan to come to a decision about this. In the meantime, sweet kindred spirits, any input or advice you might have would be considered and appreciated.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Night to Remember

It was a chilly autumn evening, just cool enough to need a light jacket. My then teenage daughter and I had just finished a few hours of shopping and were parked outside a fast-food joint, devouring a gigantic order of French fries that we didn’t need.

The day had not gone according to plan. I left the house with the intention of dropping her off at a church youth event, but somehow we got our wires crossed and discovered we were a week early. So, instead of being annoyed, we went shopping—an antidote for most trivial blunders in life.

With a gentle breeze coming through the car’s open window, it seemed a perfect night for a mother-daughter chat, but we were too busy with the fries to engage in meaningful conversation. Not that we would have anyway. Our relationship had reached that curious phase that often leaves mothers exhausted and frustrated. My IQ had plummeted. My suggestions and advice tended to be met with a rolling of the eyes, a twist of the hair, or—even worse—blank stares. My idea of fun was downright laughable, my list of rules was outrageous, and my driving was plain awful. On top of that, I had no idea what constituted a “hot” guy or a “cool” hairdo these days.

I tried not to be too concerned. After all, I remembered how dumb my mother was when I was a teenager. Seemingly overnight she went from being a wise and brilliant mother to an old fogey with stupid rules. In time, I kept telling myself, the tide would turn, the planets would align, and my IQ would skyrocket.

Until then, I remained steadfast in my efforts to be the best possible parent I could be, loving my daughter unconditionally, being there for her to lean on when she stumbled, and trying to lead by example.

It wasn’t easy. Sometimes my example fell miserably short, and constantly enforcing the list of rules wore me out. The path of least resistance often called to me. But my mother was stubborn too, and I seemed to turn out OK. So, I just plodded on, attempting to do what I believed to be right, while patiently watching my daughter flap her wings from time to time, dreaming of freedom.

As she licked the last of the fries from her fingers, she reached over and popped on the radio, cranking up the volume. A lovely tune by The Katinas called “Thank You” was playing—an inspiring melody, so fitting for the season. I smiled as she sang along, not missing a single word.

When the music faded, she said, “I love that song.”

“Me, too,” I said, then took a giant leap of faith. “What are you most thankful for tonight?” I asked, hoping she would tell me. Hoping we wouldn’t squander this golden opportunity.

She shrugged. “I don’t know.”

I couldn’t let her off the hook that easy. “Well—do you know what I am most thankful for tonight?” I asked, curious.

She didn’t hesitate. “Yep,” she said, confidently. “Just being here with me.”

“How did you know I was going to say that?” I asked, surprised that she had read my heart—something she used to do a lot  when she was a little girl.

“Mom,” she said, amused, “I just know you.” She gave my hand a quick pat, making my heart swell. It was what I call a “comfort” moment, because in such moments I knew that my daughter and I were moving along just fine.

As we gathered up the mess we made, it occurred to me that what started out as an accidental evening out, had ended up being quite special. Sharing good food and patches of conversation with my daughter had made it so.

With a grateful heart, I brought the car to life and headed toward home.

Adapted from the article, "Ordinary times provide reason to be thankful," as published in The Dallas Morning News. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

September is History : October has Arrived

And so it is October, the month that has my heart, when sunlight slants across the lawn and streams through windows, like open arms waiting to warm you. It is the month when everything changes, when quilts are laid on couches and placed at the end of the beds, when the smell of soups and chili and the occasional apple pie wafts through the house, just as autumn should be. 

For the first time, October sneaked up on me. Then again, it was a September like no other. I do hate to be a lady of mystery, but all I can say is September was one for the record books. There were hard places, but in the midst of it all, there were soft places to land and more than a few treasures to discover in each day.

On a sweet Sunday morning in September, Arabella wore one of the dresses her Aunt Gayle bought her for her birthday. Pure princess, isn't she?

No special occasion, but a very special cupcake. 
Too cute for words.

While waiting at a traffic light one afternoon, I looked over and saw a white cloud peering over the trees. I loved it so much I rolled the window down and captured the moment.

During one particularly stressful night in September, with enough worry to fill an ocean, I saw this on a wall and smiled. The first two lines said it all.

Sometimes, you just have to make time for an afternoon of bubbles.

When did she get so big?

 Me and the twin on a momentous Sunday in September.

Whenever I see her playing in the little car that first belonged to her mommy ... 

... or sitting in her mommy's little chair, 
my heart can hardly hold it all in. 

Only a grandparent can understand.

Until next time, sweet friends, thanks for keeping me company here in this simple space. I hope you're planning, as I am, to enjoy October’s embrace, to cherish all of the golden days that will follow, days that belong to autumn.


Sharing with:
Mrs. Olson
Grace at Home

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday Musings : On Enduring Hurricanes and the Aftermath

Eleven years ago, the wrath of Hurricane Rita, the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, made landfall near the Sabine River, devastating southwest Louisiana and the Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas areas.

In anticipation of the storm, my parents followed the advice of weather experts and left their home to drive north to where my older sister and her husband lived at the time. When the okay was given for residents to return home, they found that things could have been so much worse, but their house and property got quite a blow. They lost seven large trees, lost their chimney, and a tree landed on the roof of my dad’s office, a branch breaking through and causing damage inside. They were without electricity for weeks.

In the days that followed, I remember they came to stay with us. About every other day, they would go back to their place and work long and hard. Although they were physically well and strong, my heart hurt for them, having to deal with the mess, and the changes that came with it.

It took months to repair the damage, months to get the downed trees taken care of, and the yard will never look the same. To this day, whenever I go back home, I remember what used to be and a part of me still grieves.

Storms. They change everything. Sometimes, in a hurricane’s fury, historical buildings and homes are destroyed, and while you can rebuild a house or a building, the history is not in the new structure.

If you live long enough, you will encounter a bad storm. They are part of life. And they leave you changed, don't they? The landscape is never the same. We are never the same. Sometimes we're seriously wounded. Scars follow, and we look at our scars and always remember the storm that caused them.

And the landscape. It's never the same after a storm. Whether by death, or divorce, or just an irreparable wound to a relationship, a storm often takes people out of our personal landscape, people who were so much a part of our lives. We never imagined life without them. But a storm came and now they are not part of our personal landscape anymore. Their smiling faces are no longer in the holiday pictures. We miss their funny jokes and their silly songs. But they aren’t there. Eventually, we move on without them.

You can move forward and build a new life, new relationships, but the history is not there. The course of your life has been altered forever.

I believe, from personal experience, that storms make you a stronger person—you build strength and character just by surviving them—but they are a hard thing to bear.

I don’t know who wrote it, but part of a favorite poem goes like this:

“Because of storms that lash the ocean waves,
The waters there
Keep purer than if the heavens o’erhead
Were always fair.
The brightest banner of the skies floats not
At noonday warm;
The rainbow traileth after thunder-clouds,
And after the storm.”

Until next time, dear friends, if you are in a storm, remember the words of George Mueller when asked how to have great faith: “The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.”


Friday, September 16, 2016

The Joys of Listening : Do You Hear What I Hear?

I live in a large metropolis area—big, bustling, loud. It’s not my dream location, so I have to make it work for me. One way I do that is to occasionally drive a few miles down the road and visit a tranquil garden, open to the public without charge. It is here that I come when I need to be quiet, to simply sit and listen.

Life seems to be gentler whenever I turn off the noise and just listen.

I hear soothing, healing sounds.

The trickle of a water fountain.

The melodious song of a bird.

The music of a wind-chime.

The crunch of gravel as people pass by.

Whenever I listen, I hear a gentle wind whispering through leaves.

The scampering of a squirrel up the trunk of a tree.

The voice of God.

Oh, the joys that await us whenever we listen.

Joining Kate for five-minute Friday, where today's prompt is: listen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sweet September : Scenes from a Blessed Life

Dear friends, while I was looking the other way, September arrived with sunshine and rain, and just a hint of a breeze. That doesn’t mean the heat and humidity have lifted though; summer always outstays her welcome around these parts. But we look ahead and know things will change, as they always do.

Well, well ... cue the trumpets. The girl has lost 15 pounds this summer, just by counting calories and making wiser choices. Yes, I know you’ve heard it all before, because it’s the same 15 pounds I bragged about losing two years ago, and the same 15 I lost four years before that, but, hey, it’s still 15 pounds.

When you count calories, you don't have to, necessarily, eat healthy; moderation is the key. But it's hard to beat simple food, prepared in the simplest of ways—like roasted asparagus that melts in your mouth.

That said, there are also times when I crave a not-so-healthy choice—like this small stack of lemon pancakes. It was my first time to try making them but I may never go back to the old way. All I did was add a tablespoon of lemon zest, per pancake, to the batter. The flavor is light and lemony and heavenly.


Our darling cupcake turned 18-months old yesterday. Papaw and I enjoyed taking her to see the ducks at the cemetery where my in-laws are buried. I wish you could hear the sound she makes for a duck. It rivals anything I've ever heard and sounds like nothing I've ever heard. I've tried to capture it on video but to no avail. Maybe my luck will change soon.

Three months

Six months

Nine months 

12 months


Oh, how swiftly the little ones evolve and change, but some things stay the same. Her smile is fairer than any sunrise; her kisses sweeter than candy. She fills my heart with joy whenever she reaches for me, or snuggles in the crook of my neck when I lift her from her bed. I never take for granted that I am here, that she is here.

On a recent evening, after the dwellers were all in bed, I walked through the living room, picking up this and that, straightening the quilt on the couch, fluffing the pillows, clearing the floor. On any given day, walk in any room of my home and you’ll find toys and stuffed animals strewn about, children’s books, and random items bearing the sticky fingerprints of a toddler. But on the messiest of days, I wouldn’t change a single thing about this big and beautiful life I get to call mine, a life filled with tender moments like those you see in the photos above.

Until next time, dear friends, may the days of September be filled with kind words and gentle moments.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Meet Michael Strahan's Parents

Gene and Louise Strahan
There are those who travel down the road of life tooting their own horns, making sure that others notice them. They are quick to boast of their exploits, where they have been, what they have done, and who they rubbed shoulders with while doing it. I suppose they don’t realize how annoying they are to those of us who get stuck at their table during social events.

Then there are those who, from all appearances, are rather ordinary people, living rather ordinary lives. You never hear them tooting their horns or touting their accomplishments. Yet, when you take a closer look, you discover that they are, indeed, extraordinary people who happen to prefer traveling down the road of life, quietly doing business very well. They are the kind of people with whom you would be happy and honored to share a table. Anywhere. Any time.

Such people are Gene and Louise Strahan, and I was honored to visit their home and interview them several years ago while writing an article for a Christian magazine. 

You've probably never heard of Gene and Louise, but if you’re a fan of professional football, you have heard of their son, hall-of-famer, Michael Strahan. 

Michael Strahan played defensive end for the New York Giants for many years and will join “Good Morning America” full-time on September 6th.

Gene Strahan with his four sons.

While Gene and Louise may have a famous son, that is not what makes them extraordinary. To them, Michael is simply one of their six talented children—all equally special in their eyes. What makes Gene and Louise Strahan stand out from the crowd can be summed up in two words: faithfulness and dedication.

Since their marriage in 1957, Gene and Louise have always been a team. A military man, Gene has been all over the world, but spent a lot of his enlisted time in Mannheim, Germany. 

After his retirement in 1985, the Strahans remained in Germany while Gene worked under the umbrella of Chicago’s City College as the coordinator of the drivers training department in Germany, training military personnel in the driving of military vehicles—everything from jeeps to tanks.

In 1989, Gene and Louise formed their own transportation company, working together as a driving team. For the next 10 years, they carried much-needed humanitarian aid to eastern European countries. Rightfully so, they were called “angels” by many of those who were on the receiving end of their road trips.

The year 1992 proved to be a monumental year for the Strahan family. Michael was drafted by the New York Giants, but something much greater occurred, as they see it. Gene had been attending a “prayer and share” service at the Spinelli Military Base Chapel, hosted by the Pentecostal Church of Calvary. Three months later, on November 25, 1992, he was Spirit-filled and baptized. Eventually, Louise followed in her husband’s footsteps.

In 1999, while still in Germany, the Strahans received an impressive award, in recognition for their 10 years of  “outstanding sacrifice in providing humanitarian aid to Eastern Europe.” This beautiful plaque now sits in a prominent place in the Strahan’s home.

In 2000, the Strahans said good-bye to Germany and moved to Houston, where today they are faithful members at the Church of Champions.

It isn’t every day that you meet extraordinary people like Gene and Louise Strahan. But whenever you do, you just know that you will never forget them, because they are people who will always make a difference wherever they go.


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