Thanksgiving Week The Aftermath

The leftovers look old, even though they are not. The turkey is pieces sitting in a baggie, waiting to either be soup or a sandwich. The potatoes, stuffing, gravy are a bit diminished in size, but still something to deal with.

Our Thanksgiving that started just as Dale and I, became four with some church friends and miraculously became seven when we found out our oldest and her family were coming.

This house has been full of laughter and movement since Wednesday. It has been glorious. I have played video games and taken nature walks and snuggled. All of this much better than any meal could be.

Today nothing was accomplished. We ate some leftovers, we sat and watched movies and we ordered pizza. Somehow looking at leftovers once more was not appealing.

This Thanksgiving has been filled with so much, we have had our home filled with people we love. We have had snuggles. We have had our hearts refilled and refreshed. We are content.

“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.” Proverbs 15:30 (NLT)

Thanksgiving Week #2

“Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT)

My Little Miss came in Tuesday night. She is spending the weekend with us along with her parents. When you are a grandparent, seeing your grands is what it’s all about. I can be hugging and playing with Little Miss (Little Man also) for a half hour before I realize the child I brought into the world is standing there waiting for a hug.

I never thought that grandchildren would have as much impact on me as they do. Little Man was our first grandchild. He grasped onto my heart and has had a squeeze on it for the past 10 years. When I get to have time with him, it is like my heart continues to beat in a rhythm that I didn’t know was missing. Our eyes will meet and it is an instant call to be goofy together, much to the chagrin of his parents. But, goofiness is our love language, except when we can take a walk just the two of us. I love those times.

Little Miss is another story, she not only squeezes my heart, she takes a piece of it with her whenever we part, making certain that piece is covered in glitter and glue. Having raised two girls, I fall back into the pattern that little girls have. Their activity is like jumping on mattresses. You bounce different ways each time you land. It is full of giggles and nonsense and plans.

After Little Miss I was introduced to my bonus grands. Again, two girls. I carefully stepped into the relationships. I did not want to ruffle feathers and be a nuisance. After a couple years, I just barged in and claimed them as my own. To my surprise I was warmly welcomed and loved. With the bonus came bonus great grandchildren, a boy and a girl.

My heart is full. As I thought of my family today, I realized what a wonderful gift my loving Father in heaven has given me. My life is fuller and brighter. My prayer life tripled, but, as the Lord has guided and kept my daughters, I know He will be the loving and caring guide to the next generation.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and remember what we are thankful for. Today, I am so grateful for this family the Lord has built around me.

Thanksgiving week

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100″1-3 (NLT)

Almost every morning Dale and I discuss what we want to accomplish during the day. Sometimes these plans clash, which is always good to know and rearrange if we need to.

This morning we both have a long list of things we’d like to see done. Our oldest and her family are traveling today to spend Thanksgiving with us.

My first task is an easy one, and I am doing it now. The past three weeks in church has reminded me over and over that I am supposed to write. I know that deep down inside me, but the constant battle is what do I have to say? Each day I remind myself that I, in and of myself, have nothing profound to say, but God. He can help me write and through Him, lives can be touched. That is my prayer and hope.

Holiday season comes upon us quickly and it is easy to look at the tsunami of things to do and buy and get completely overwhelmed. This week starts that tsunami.

The past few years I could look around my home at this time and see decorating all done, cards in a stack, ready for the mail, and some gifts already bought. This year, as has happened all this year, not so much.

Yes, the holidays can be fun. They can be rushed and hurried. I am moving slower this year. At first it bothered me, but, I am getting comfortable in my pace.

When I rush, the things I want to enjoy, the things I feel I need to do take the back seat in my life. I hurriedly rush through my advent devotional, thinking that I hope something sinks in and I will be able to truly focus on the meaning of the holidays.

So, today, as we start out getting ‘things’ done, I am thankful that we can still do things. I am thankful that we have each other. I am thankful that tasks need to be evaluated as to the importance of it. I am thankful for a slower me.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever,  and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

Marietta

“But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” Ruth 1:16-17 (NLT)

Today a friend on facebook posted something about mother-in-laws. She went on to say that she loved her mother in law and considered her a friend.

This prompted me to think of my mother-in-law. Dale and I dated for three years, and were engaged for eleven more months before getting married. So, we have been together a long time.

At first, his mother was not too fond of me. We always say that was because I was a ‘city’ girl and Dale was a country boy she had her doubts. I know that really made no difference to his mom, but we tried to figure out why I was not liked right away.

Time did improve our relationship and by time that engagement ring was slipped onto my finger his Mom and I were friends. We were young when we got engaged. Young when we married. Yet, this woman accepted me and loved me.

Since she had no daughter and I had no mother, I invited her to be with me on many of the plans for our wedding. She actually picked out my wedding gown, which makes it even more special to me.

Through the years we laughed often. Got in trouble with our husbands a lot. Got lost together as neither of us has/had a keen sense of direction.

My memories of her are rich. I miss her mirthful laughter, it was almost musical. Her tenderness toward the Lord spoke volumes to me. She could not pray or talk about God without tears streaming down her cheeks.

I have often said I had three mothers growing up. My own Mother who brought me into the world and taught me the foundations of life. My older sister who guided me through my teen years (I personally think she had the hardest shift) and my mother in law who taught me how to be a wife and mother. My life is full and complete from these three women.

The verse above is how I felt about my mother in law. She was my own personal Naomi. Most women are blessed to have one mother who has nurtured and guided them, I had three.

The day after Dale and I married, we stopped to pick up our rental truck filled with my belongings and our wedding gifts. As we walked into her kitchen, she asked me to go to the basement with her. She had canned and made jam for us the previous fall and needed help carrying things upstairs. When we were alone in the basement, I hesitantly asked what I should call her as, up until that time she was Mrs.Thomas. Since we were both now Mrs. Thomas, I knew I could not continue to call her that. She looked at me, and said, “you can call me Marietta, or Etta, or (and she paused) you could call me Mom.” It had been almost 9 years since I had called anyone that name. I looked at her and said, “Okay, Mom.”

As we hugged good-bye to leave for our new life in Virginia, she squeezed me extra hard and that mother-daughter bond was formed.

It has been over thirty years since she passed, but today thoughts of her have flooded my mind. My life has been enriched by the woman who gave me her son.

Veteran’s Day

“Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” Psalm 144:1 (NLT)

When I was in high school I would participate in selling poppies on Veteran’s Day. They weren’t real poppies, but little red flowers that were poppies.

I would stand in front of a store downtown, with poppies in one hand and a can in the other. People passing by would stop, give a donation and take a poppy. Older men would stop, and devoutly take a flower and lovingly put the flower in their lapel.

At the time, I thought it was a weird thing to do, but as I was in a community serving group, we would do this for the local VFW. Some years it was pleasant, and some years the bitter November air would rush down Seneca Street chilling you to the bone.

I knew my Dad and my uncles were all veterans. They all served in the war. They each had stories, that were talked about briefly to each other. There were also hushed tones when they remembered their brother who passed from war wounds.

They were referred to as the greatest generation. To me, as one in high school, I did not realize or understand the depth of what they experienced or endured.

I neglected to ask questions as I didn’t think it was important. I have my Dad’s papers from his time in the service. An uncle who was in the Navy gave me some memorabilia from his time in Subic Bay. As a Navy wife at the time, he felt I would enjoy them. I do.

Veterans write a check with their lives at some point. They serve, they give and they sacrifice. I was broken in easily when I married my sailor. We were together, with no deployments for the first few years of our marriage. We explored the places we went.

We explored Japan, we had our time together to see places my uncles fought against. We lived in occupation era housing along with the bugs and rats and brick bathtubs. We relished each day we were together. I began to understand the military.

It wasn’t until the early 80’s that I began to truly realize what sacrifice and deployment meant.

This photo taken the day Dale returned after eight and a half months, sealed forever what sacrifice is. Not just for the veteran, but, for the families. His expression at seeing his daughter after such a long time brings tears to my eyes still. I was standing out of view with our youngest in my arms. It was his first meeting his baby girl who was five months old.

In case I might have forgotten the meaning of what a veteran is, our daughter, pictured above became a Navy wife. She endured several deployments with a baby, like her Mom. He is now a Veteran. Having served honorably and sacrificed much, he is celebrating his second Veteran’s Day.

We owe a debt to these brave men and women. They have accomplished things that we will never hear about. They will talk to brothers in arms with the same hushed tones that my uncles did.

Today and for the next couple of days I will remember my Dad, my uncles, knowing what they accomplished on the fields in World War II. I will once more look at Dale and see that young man who swept me off on a life of adventure, and I will pray for my son in law as he continues to adjust to civilian life.

Warriors sign a blank check. The world and powers write what is owed. Our Savior understands what these men and women accomplished, as He too, came down to earth to pay the ultimate price that we may be saved. Today, look around you and truly see what is surrounding you. Freedom comes at a very high price.

Sisters

I just looked up quotes on sisters. I thought that would be a nice way to start off this post. Unfortunately they were all saccharine sweet and I could see both of my sisters roll their eyes, followed by a , “yeh, right.” I could see that because that is what I just did.

I love my sisters. They center me and keep me grounded. After all, when you grow up with siblings your life is pretty much bare before them. It’s all fair play.

I can remember my older sister giving us encouraging talks while walking to school after our Mom died. She kept us going, she kept up our spirits. She was our cheerleader.

I also remember going into her closet after she left for high school and we still had time before my younger sister and I had to leave for our school. Her make up was free game, along with any sweaters that I could sneak on, like her pink mohair sweater.

My younger sister and I shared a room, and a bed. If one of us cried the other had the shoulder to lean on. If thunder and lightening scared one, the other was strong, even if they really weren’t inside.

I taught my younger sister to climb a tree, forgot to tell her how to get back down. We all went to movies that we didn’t tell our Dad we went to, (Bond movie, Godfather movie). We each had secrets that we shared.

Yes, one of those quotes would be nice and sweet, but the truth is that sisters (or any siblings) are much greater than a quote you can read.

My sisters could drive me crazy, I could drive them crazy. We could fight like cats and dogs, but no one better say anything about either of my sisters.

As a child, I could never figure out how my parents could be so close to my aunts and uncles.I know now, they were siblings, they knew where scars came from, how windows were broken, who ate the last piece of cake, and why things were thrown out.

Recently in one of our sister posts, I asked my younger sister a question, it made her laugh and the two older ones, we laughed. God gives us lots of gifts through a life time. I think sisters are both a precious gift and part gag gift, we know how to push buttons and make jabs that should not be made.

Today is my older sister’s birthday. The older she gets the more I love her. Yes, I do realize that the older she gets, the older I am. Our younger sister is still the baby of the family, so although she is only two years younger than me, in our minds we feel we must protect her. Plus, when I see her in my mind, she is just out of college.

My sisters have been in my heart so much lately. I am so grateful for them and for the lives we have had together and apart. Happy Birthday dearest Dottie. I wouldn’t be me without you.

Church Family

Tonight (October 31st), our church hosted a trunk or treat. Of course, on the way to the church we could barely see three feet in front of us for the pouring rain. Our parking lot event turned into a fellowship hall event.

As usual, our church family went full in for this event. Tables instead of cars were decorated, and bowls of candy overflowed. Hotdogs were grilled and chips and water were available.

At first kids and parents trickled in. Soon, we saw a crowd. It was a delightful evening. Kids were polite and were taking only a piece at a time. Our church family was so generous in donating candy that those of us manning the tables encouraged kids to take handfuls at each bowl of treats. Their delighted faces were wonderful. Of course we all knew that the parents needed treats too, so we made certain extra went into the buckets and bags for Mom and Dad.

This is our second year of doing this event. I am always amazed at how everyone dresses up to come, but the older kids do not take candy. Tonight I encouraged an older boy to take some candy. He politely thanked me and left his younger siblings to fill their bags. I asked if he liked candy, he sheepishly affirmed he did, and finally his parent said put some in your pockets. A smile filled his face and all of a sudden a teen trying hard to be grown up became a little boy again.

Everyone who visited tonight was precious. Each had sweet conversations and we enjoyed each family that attended.

As I sat at a table I looked around at those who were there helping run this event. I love our church family. This group of people have taught me love, care and friendship. I am grateful for them.

As we begin November, I thought I would begin to thank God for all the blessings in my life, especially my church family.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1 (NKJV)

My Sweet Girl

“Children’s children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.” Proverbs 17:6 (NKJV)

Dale and I are blessed to have two grandchildren, two bonus grandchildren and two bonus great grandchildren. Each one bring us joy and laughter.

Today, our granddaughter turns eight. Little Miss came as a surprise to us. She is always filled with surprises. Her middle name was given in honor of her aunt, our youngest. Like her namesake, she comes up with the wildest things. Also like her parents, she is full of the energy of them. She is blessed with a history and genetics that provide gasps and more gray hair for me. I love that about her.

My daughter did not want to give birth on Halloween. She was adamant about that. She vowed that she would hold off until November. I smiled and asked if she talked that over with the Lord. She now often quotes that we make our plans and the Lord laughs at them.

Our Little Miss came at just the perfect time. Her life has been ordered of the Lord. She is our pumpkin. Her zest for life astonishes me. Her caring and kindness oozes from her. Yes, I am bragging a bit, grandparents are allowed to do this.

So, precious one, have an awesome birthday. May you always have a zeal to meet and conquer whatever is before you. May you greet each challenge with the boldness of your Daddy. May you love unconditionally like your Mommy. Most of all may you continue to love your Creator who blessed us with you.

Thank YOU for our sense of smell

It’s mid afternoon Saturday as I write this. Dale is in the kitchen now finishing up making homemade pasta. He hasn’t done this in a few years.

It will hang to dry out a bit before I cook it for dinner this evening. Earlier I made sauce. It is gently bubbling in the pan, cooking down to a thick deliciousness. I am looking forward to dinner this evening.

The aroma in our house is delightful today. It makes us anxious for dinner time. I am grateful for the ability to smell and anticipate our meal.

“I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles.” Ezekiel 20:41 (NKJV)

There are several verses in the Bible about sweet aromas before God, the above verse is just one.

As I have smelled the sweet aroma of the sauce today, I have prayed that likewise, I may be a sweet aroma before our God.

Out of Nowhere

Dale’s Dad was born in 1911. He often told the story of he and his brothers and I believe a sister piled into a Model T and drove out west. I guess somewhere in Oklahoma they picked up a goat and strapped it onto the running board of the car so they could have fresh milk. He was filled with wonderful stories like this. We would laugh until our sides hurt and tears were rolling down our cheek.

Dale and I have often talked about all his Dad saw in his lifetime. The first production line of cars, two world wars, the riots of the 60’s, space travel, telephones and right before he passed away Dale and I had bought our first computer. In one lifetime, so much was witnessed.

Granted, in my lifetime, I also have seen much, read much, experienced much. It’s the way life happens as none of us live in a bubble.

What prompted the above is a random memory that somehow, out of the dark recesses of my mind, came rushing up to the front of my brain today.

I believe I was in 7th grade and I had gone to camp for our school. It was May. Camp Glinodo was a camp run by the Benedictine Sisters. There was a pool on the property and we swam all day on Saturday. Of course, I burned, badly. I usually do that. This time there were blisters forming, which is also common for me. The nuns were checking on us for the last time. I was in the top bunk and I was crying. The nuns took me into the kitchen and figured out what to do with the burns. Eventually they decided to put milk on my sunburn. I was given something to drink and Sr. Patricia sat and talked with me.

The true reason for the tears came out at that time. My older sister was going to her prom and I wasn’t there to see her. I told the nun how beautiful her dress was, and I was so sad I couldn’t see her all dressed up. The thing I most remember from that is she had long gloves with pearl buttons on the wrist. I thought she was so elegant. I related to the nun that I was allowed to try them on and that someday, I would have long gloves like that.

After talking she took me back to bed and I slept.

I haven’t thought of that in decades.I have thought of the gloves, though. This was a time when young ladies wore gloves. When we went to church, you put your gloves on. Same with any outing. I had lacy ones with ruffles on the edge. I also had plain ones.

When I married and went to the commissary (grocery store on base), it was required to wear dresses, closed toe shoes and gloves to enter. I don’t know when gloves went out of fashion, or were no longer a requirement, but they disappeared. I never owned a pair of long gloves.

Such a random thought today. It amazes me when memories hit you. It’s like a random shot out of nowhere.

The Lord created us for things like this. Memories that make up a life. Memories that bring smiles and reminders of where you came from. Memories that are etched on our hearts and in our minds.

The Bible talks about remembering. We are encouraged to remember

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.” Psalm 143:5 (NKJV)