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.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Southern Fathers Have a Way ~ Article from Mississippi Magazine

As semi-promised, below is a look at the article that appears in the May/June issue of Mississippi magazine. "Southern Fathers Have a Way of their Own" is an intimate portrait of my dad. You may even find reflections of your own father scattered throughout.

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful daddy, and to all of the fathers who have stepped up to the plate and accepted their responsibility to their children. 

My prayer is that God will raise up strong fathers among us, true leaders at home who take seriously their God-given role.


Click twice on the image for reading. 

Until next time, sweet friends, may the coming week be filled with kind words, with smiling faces, and music that warms the soul.


Friday, June 13, 2014

When People Pray ~ Look What the Lord has Done

Dear friends, what can I say except you are wonderful! Your prayers have helped lift the heaviness. Without a doubt, I have turned a corner. I am grateful for your prayers and encouraged by your words. I cherish the community that comes from blogging, and the strength that comes from sharing our stories.

If I’ve learned anything about life, I’ve learned that storms come to us all. But in the midst of them, if we don’t become distracted by the waves or flying debris, we can experience the sweet peace of the Lord. 

Speaking of storms, when you travel in an RV, you pay attention to weather forecasts. Last evening, as storm clouds gathered around us, The Man and I put away the lawn chairs and rolled up the outdoor rugs, anticipating a night of winds and rain. I texted a few family members and asked for extra prayers, then I said a few of my own.

Shortly before midnight, the predicted storm arrived. As we watched through the windows, I kept repeating, “Lord, please keep your hand upon us this night, and upon our fellow-campers.” 

An hour or so later, the calm came and we went to bed.

The morning light revealed a large branch of a pecan tree had fallen, not 10 feet away from where we lay sleeping. As we walked around it, shaking our heads, our lips were filled with praise and thanksgiving to God for His mighty hand of protection through the night. We never know what a day will bring, but be it good news or bad, we are in faithful hands.

“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my place of safety: my God; in him will I trust.” ~ Psalm 91:2

Until next time, precious friends, may your weekend be one of peace and strength, and may you find the courage needed for whatever task is before you.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

In the Shade of Pecan Trees ~ An Honest Conversation

In need of a change of scenery, The Man and I took to the road a few days ago and are now settled into a campground not terribly far from home, a familiar place where pecan trees touch the sky and give shade to the earth below. From where I sit, I can easily count 25 pecan trees. Multiply that by 20 and you get the idea of just how many are here.

When the pecans arrive and drop to the ground, the gardeners gather them in trash bags for sorting and shelling and sharing. Year after year, these trees have been yielding their goodness, asking little in return.

On rare occasions, one of the trees is lost, diseased beyond saving, or a victim of the elements. Just down the hill from our campsite, this beauty lies, toppled over after a recent season of heavy rain, its hillside roots unable to hold on.

Dear friends, the world is filled with people who, on any given day, are fighting great battles, whether physical, spiritual, emotional, or financial. They may feel one more good rain will surely be their end. If you've followed my journey long, you know I don’t often write in specifics, when it comes to personal needs or obstacles or ailments. I avoid this for two reasons: 1) I believe personal things should remain private; and 2) My trials may not be your trials, but, oftentimes, what relates to one will relate to another. A struggle is a struggle. A trial is a trial. We don't have to know the details, for we share a common language.

If you're new to this space, I'll be the first to say that the last few posts have been sprinkled with an underlying tone of gloom and doom. I'm sorry for that because, while I do try to keep it real around here, I am not a glass-half-empty kind of gal. The blessings always outweigh the burdens.

But having said that, there are times when we need the prayers of our friends. And while I’m an advocate of praying specific prayers, sometimes, just the mention of a name is sufficient; God knows who, what, when, where, and why.

If you have a minute, would you do that for me, would you breathe a prayer for me and The Man? No one’s life is at stake, but God desires for us to bring every need to Him. We don’t always get the answers we hope for, but He has promised wisdom to those who ask, and strength for the journey. I believe there is power in numbers and I will be indebted to you.

Believe it or not, I set out to write about the beauty found under an ordinary sky, but I have pretty much thrown what resembles a pity party and that wasn’t my intention at all. I suppose I could draw a line through all I have scribbled on the purple notepad in front of me and start over from here, but instead let me end this rambling post by returning to my original thought.

As I write, I am seated at the picnic table just outside the RV. My coffee cup is now empty, but I am filled. Overhead, a blue sky stretches wide, while the healing sounds of nature whisper around me. It is this that first captured my heart and caused me to fall in love with the camping experience, some three decades ago. And I've never been disappointed.

Whenever I take the time to turn off the artificial noises that tend to rule the day, and step out into a natural environment—where birds sing and squirrels scurry, where the wind blows through the trees and the sun warms my face, where people smile and wave, where the sun slips behind the horizon in sundry shades of orange, where the hand of God can be seen at every turn—be it the ocean, the mountains, or under the shade of pecan trees, it is there, my friends, where I find peace, where I am refreshed and renewed.

Until next time, I am thanking God for all of you. You are a gift to my heart.


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