Friday, April 24, 2015

Out and About with Cupcake

Cupcake is growing and changing with every single day. The joy of watching her is one that never gets old. As a grandmother, you know so much more than you did as a mother. You understand the brevity of these early days and months, days that go by in a flash, days that can never be recalled.

Last Friday, The Man and I took a stroll through the lovely arboretum that sits a skip and a hop away from our front door. We spent a lot of time parked in the shady spots. Lord willing, I will share this place with her as the years go by.

I especially enjoyed watching Papaw with cupcake. 

There's nothing like a sleeping baby to lift your spirits.

Until next time, sweet friends, thank you for keeping me company here. May your weekend be filled with all of the things that make you smile.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Entertaining Angels in Ancient Cadillacs ~ A Look Back

On a brisk April morning in 1988, my husband and I stood in the living room arguing. I don't recall what started the whole thing, but I rambled on incessantly, The Man's face a picture of sheer frustration.

Suddenly I announced, "I'm getting out of here!" 

"Go," my husband said, shrugging his broad shoulders. "Do whatever it is you want to do." 

Still muttering, I stomped to the pantry, grabbed an old loaf of bread, stalked to the car, and drove to a little duck pond, twelve miles away.

This particular duck pond sits in the center of the cemetery where my father-in-law is buried. For some reason, the pond drew me during difficult times. Maybe it held an answer today.

A parade of ducks waddled to greet me. While I reached in the back seat for the things I'd brought, they nosed around my feet, searching for whatever treats they could find.

"Just old bread, you guys," I said, shooing them out of the way.

The entire congregation trailed me to the small cement bench next to the pond. Hungrily, they eyed me as I unwrapped my meager offering. In minutes, the crumbs were consumed.

As the ducks sashayed off in every direction, I sat under the Texas pines thinking about the argument I'd walked out on. All my life I'd heard the seventh year of marriage was the toughest; that men and women often contracted the seven-year-itch, or something similar. 

I dared not define my own ailment, except to acknowledge that my marriage had tarnished over the years. The reasons varied, but my tendency to drone on when enough had been said didn't help matters. I always wanted to have the last word—at any cost.

Often I vowed to be different, spending weeks with Ecclesiastes 3:7—a time to speak and a time to be silent—taped on my bathroom mirror. But before long, I'd find myself stuck in the same old rut: talking when silence was in order. Inwardly, I longed for change.

Watching the ducks in the pond, their reflections a kaleidoscope of colors, I had a thought: If only I could behold my own reflection, like the ducks in the water. If only I could see myself.

Breathing a silent prayer, I asked God to let this miraculous thing happen.

It was while I prayed that I heard a car approach. The engine sputtered a time or two, then died. Turning, I saw an elderly man crawling out of an ancient, ramshackle Cadillac, the vinyl roof peeling off in great chunks.

Tall and lean, the man moved briskly around the front of the car, swinging two loaves of white Wonder bread in his hands. He wore a red flannel shirt, sleeves clasped at the wrist, and jean britches, about an inch too short. Quickly, he laid the bags of bread on the hood of the Cadillac, opened them and began flinging whole slices through the dazzling sun, like tiny white Frisbees.

"You come here often?" I called across the lawn.

He cupped a hand to one ear.

"Do you come here often?" I said, louder.

Tossing the final slices, he stuffed the plastic wrappers in a garbage bin and walked to where I sat.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," he said, squatting beside me. "I still didn't hear you."

"I just wanted to know if you come here often," I repeated, suddenly wishing I hadn't said anything.

"When the weather's nice and not too hot," he said. I found it unnerving that he didn’t look directly into my eyes when he spoke, but stared curiously at my forehead.

With nothing better to do, we gazed across the pond, while a cluster of ducks gathered at our feet, honking at a lofty volume. So loud was their honking I considered jumping up and yelling, "SHHHH!"

I glanced at the old man. He smiled, but said nothing. I wished he would leave.

As if reading my mind, he sprang to his feet and said, "I gotta split." Then he pointed a bony finger at the chattering ducks, and, in an irked voice, said, "You know, them crazy ducks just don't know when to hush."

With that declaration—and a wave in my direction—the old man sauntered to the waiting jalopy, brought it to life and clanked off in the distance, a flurry of leaves chasing after him.

What did he say? Did he say those crazy ducks just don't know when to hush? 

Suddenly, I recalled my impromptu prayer—my desire to see myself. Had God sent the old man as an answer to my prayer? Did I sound much like the honking ducks to my husband? 

In my heart, I knew I did. And I had the strangest feeling that I had just entertained an angel.

A gust of wind whipped around my legs as I hurried to the car. The little ducks stood quiet now, like monuments scattered across the ground, their silence speaking volumes to me.

When I arrived home, my husband lay sprawled on the couch looking worried. "Hi," he said, his voice even. "Where've you been?"

I hesitated. "I went to the cemetery."

"Cemetery!" He half-laughed. "Are you planning on killing me?"

"Nope," I said, planting a kiss on his puzzled face, "but I sure got some great pointers on keeping you alive."

Adapted from the book, Whispers From Heaven (Pacific Press), by Dayle Allen Shockley.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Scenes from a Blessed Life in April

Dear fellow-travelers, as I write, it is Thursday afternoon. The sun is playing peek-a-boo with the clouds. Rain is in the forecast. April showers and all that. Spring is doing her yearly dance. The wind, a familiar companion, blows through the wind-chimes out back, sending magical music rushing through the open windows, the sound of it soothing my soul.  

Recently, The Man and I took to the highways for a little day trip, off to chase the bluebonnets that Texas is known for in spring. We found them, and, somehow, as they always do, they brought peace. 

God’s artwork on display, free to all who will stop and look and hear and feel.

It's OK to be different. That's a relief.

Did you have a nice Easter weekend? All I wanted for Easter was at least one good picture of cupcake with her Memaw. I may be a little biased, but I think that baby girl outdid herself on this one, don't you?

Speaking of Easter, I love the second verse of the old song, "Because He Lives," written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. It seemed extra fitting this year:

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

I hope your Easter was beautiful in every way. I'm so glad I'm a believer and I've never been more sure of my faith than I am today. In times of doubt and distress, I can’t imagine not believing in God, not knowing and experiencing that, in my times of weakness, His strength is made perfect, that He hears and answers prayer.

Until next time, sweet friends, the days they are a flying. Thanks for your company. Your footprints here always sweeten my day. Thank you.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Scenes from a Blessed Life

After a week of amazing blue skies and sunshine, April dawned with its signature showers. As much as I love sun-drenched days, my spirit craves the occasional rainy day to soothe the dry places, to fill up the cracks that the stress and strain of life can bring.

Our darling Arabella is growing and changing every day. She fills me up with joy and takes my breath away.

My parents got to meet her for the first time last week. She was a big hit, as you can imagine, their third great-granddaughter. As I watched them adoring her, it was hard to keep back the tears, the circle of life all there in a single frame. 

I don't believe I showed you cupcake's newborn photos. Aren't they wonderful? The photographer who came by the hospital room to do the photo shoot was amazing with babies and captured all of these in a few short minutes.

Perhaps my favorite was the one of my daughter holding her daughter. No words.

Well, dear friends, I am so far behind in keeping up with you all, and I do miss knowing what you’re up to. I hope you will forgive me. Truth is, I hardly have time to blog these days, only in bits and pieces and then, by some small miracle, it all comes together, although not very cohesive I fear. Another season of life is here and who knows where it will lead? I just know that I'm going to squeeze every ounce of joy out of it that I can.

Easter is upon us. I do hope yours is all you hope for. Speaking of Easter, one day last week, I drove to the cemetery where my in-laws are buried. 

Brookside is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Houston, with trees that are hundreds of years old. 

I used to visit often, whenever we lived closer, but there's something about Easter that draws me here, as it gives death meaning. As I strolled around, soaking in the day, I remembered this verse of Scripture: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11) What a day that will be.

Until next time, dear friends, may the hope that Easter brings live in your hearts today and always.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Musings ~ Letting Go, or Holding On

It’s been said that the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.

I couldn’t agree more with that philosophy. 

But the problem often lies in the choosing—what to hold on to and what to let go.

From a distance, the choices seem obvious: 

Let go of the things that cause pain. 

Hold on to the things that bring joy.

But you know as well as I do that it’s not that simple.

And it takes great strength either way—holding on, or letting go.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Conquering Odd Places ~ The 4-drawer chest that stole my heart

The last few years found me wanting to change up this odd little space. The way it’s positioned, to the left of one of the sofas, and in front of the built-in bookshelves, posed a real challenge to find something that didn't impede the cabinets of the built-ins and didn't stick out too far into the room. 

When I discovered I was going to have a granddaughter, I began a serious look for a chest-of-drawers to fill the space. It’s always my goal to find something both practical and pretty, not to mention useful. It definitely had to be something used, something with a history, and in good condition. And I didn't want to shell out big bucks. Even more important, though, the size had to be just right.

After looking high and low, north and south, east and west (you have no idea), and even after buying something I thought would work, but was too tall and too deep, I came upon this beauty in a local vintage store. The price-tag said $399 and, quite frankly, that made me shiver. It was way over what I'd hoped to spend, but the measurements told me it would be perfect. And I knew it would be. 

I asked the proprietor for her best price and she came down $100, which, $300 wasn’t terrible, as the piece was in excellent shape and Camille's distressed painting is always exquisite, but it was still more than I wanted to spend.

So I went home and slept on the matter for three nights.

In the end, however, I was quite smitten. I knew it was the "perfect" piece for the space, so I laid down the money and brought it home. I've been in love ever since. 

The drawers work perfectly and the bottom drawer (which looks like two drawers from the outside) is quite deep. I envision it being useful for storing a few toys down the road. The chest is now filled with all sorts of baby blankets and quilts and clothes and will be put to good use for many years to come.

I wanted to create a monochromatic look, so I painted and distressed the frame holding a picture of my paternal grandparents, adding the little fondant shoes from my daughter's baby shower cake as a whimsical touch.

Most of the other items were things from around the house. 

 The only thing I went out and purchased was the little white pitcher—for $5.00.

I think the mirror I bought from my niece’s shop several years ago goes perfectly on the wall, complimenting the chest-of-drawers, while completing the space.

The odd little space now has a new look. Truth is, I don't mind going a little over my budget for pieces that I love, for pieces that will go the distance, because I know I'll get my money's worth in the long-run.


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Musings ~ As Time Goes By

Dear friends, as I write it is Sunday morning, barely daylight. Outside, skies stretch wide like a gray umbrella. Yesterday brought sunshine. Today, we may get wet again, as we have for the past few weeks. Despite the uncertainty of the day, the trees have budded out and the birds are in full motion, darting in and out of the red-tip bushes, preparing nests for the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, coffee has been made and I sit on the sofa watching my new granddaughter sleep, still in awe that she is here. I revel in her every breath, delight in her every expression. Did I mention the comforter she's laying on belonged to her mother? I've kept it 28 years for this very moment in time.

My niece and her family came last week. Sugar plum was impressed and took great pride in holding her new cousin. As we passed around the latest addition of the family, my niece recalled the early days of her daughter’s life. She said, “The first few weeks, it’s like time stands still.”

Yes, that is precisely how it feels, like a still-life painting. We wake and sleep. We eat as necessary. Everything else is barely there.

And in between our minimalistic existence, we watch this baby girl, fresh from heaven.

We stare at her, smell of her, study her chin and lips, and kiss her delicious cheeks.

On occasion, she opens her tiny eyes, not fully, but enough to peek out and maybe, just maybe, know we’re here, loving her and caring for her every need, our hearts overflowing, filling up with love and emptying out again and again.


Before I sign off, a funny thing happened this morning. After my daughter finished the night shift, it was just me and cupcake. I was playing the little music bear that one of Anna’s coworkers gave her. It plays the most gentle tones and plays religious songs, including “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Onward Christian Soldiers” (that kinda made me chuckle when I thought about it). I left cupcake asleep on the couch and went to fix me an egg. When I returned, I saw this:

Somebody was getting her Sunday praise on. She’s never held her arm in this position, and it stayed up until the music stopped ten minutes later. I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. My darling cupcake, already making her memaw giggle.

Until next time, sweet friends, thanks for stopping by and for your sweet comments about my new granddaughter. I'm proud to be part of the Grand Club.


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