Thanksgiving Week #3

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6- (NLT)

I grew up in a small town. It was an idyllic town, where everyone knew everyone and it was safe. I thought I always wanted to stay there and be content.

Then, I married a sailor. My life was transformed on that day, I left the security of my small hometown. I was literally plunged into strange environments. Being from the North, going to the South was confusing to me. I had no footing, nothing was familiar.

From the South, we moved to Japan. Now, that was really confusing to me, but somehow it was much more comforting than our first duty station together. The Lord began to work in me.

Eventually, we ended up in Southern California. We watched the city grow from a dirty navy town into a metropolitan area. With the growth came the influx of the homeless. I know there are many reasons for homelessness, and I am not going to go into that topic. I just mention this to make a point.

Upon seeing those who were destitute, I realized how fortunate I am. Too often we take for granted those things around us. A roof over our heads, heat that can be turned on and off, shoes for our feet, blankets to sleep under, beds to sleep on. I often remind myself of the blessings I have.

I may not have the best of all things, but, this Thanksgiving Day I am certain of this. For all that I do have, I am grateful. For the meal that I will eat, I am grateful. For the family around the table, I am grateful.

In this season of glitter and lists and shopping, I am thankful for what I will be able to do, who I will be able to bless in some way.

Lord, on this Thanksgiving Day, thank You for Your glorious provisions. You know that I have come to You many times asking for peace, for reassurance, for comfort. You also know that You remind me of the bountiful blessings that surround me. So, today, Lord, let those who are frightened, cold, and unsure be touched by those who will minister to them. Keep the cold warm, the discouraged, encouraged, and those without hope, shine into their lives. Help me to do what I can willingly. Let me reflect Your glory. Amen.

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.

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.

Stay Classy

Fifteen years ago as Dale and I were driving to meet friends for dinner, he announced that we would be moving. As I was the one driving in rush hour traffic on a Friday night, this was a shock to my system, especially since I almost missed our exit.

At that point, we had lived in San Diego for 25 years. We had raised our daughters there, we had had many experiences there. After hyperventilating on the freeway, I got us to the parking lot of the restaurant. I sat there looking at my husband, only able to ask, “What?”.

As we kept our friends waiting in the restaurant, Dale slowly explained what his day had held. He had had a very busy day with lots of news for him professionally. I sat holding on to the steering wheel trying to absorb what he was saying.

We were going to move, to the east coast, after 25 years. We went into the restaurant and broke the news to our friends. I still remember the conversations, the shock I felt and the anticipation that was growing in me.

The move didn’t happen right away, but it was looming in front of us. During the time of waiting, the Lord taught me many things. I was surprised that I had more than a few moments of panic at the thought of leaving. I did not expect that. We had never planned on being in California for that long. But, as I have relayed before, the Lord told us in 1982 that we would be in San Diego until He was done with us there.

As the move was delayed often, I always told others that I would believe we were moving when I say the big moving van back down our driveway.

Today, on my facebook memories I saw this, “on this day 13 years ago, After two years, the big truck backed down my driveway today… I believe it’s time to go. Stay Classy San Diego….”

I smiled to myself. I had gone to the store to get water and snacks for the day. Our house was visible from the road below coming from the store. I glanced up towards home and there, sitting in our driveway was a big moving van.

In some ways, that day seems like it happened yesterday. Sometimes it seems like we have always been here. It’s funny how memories are like that.

The Lord did move us. He orchestrated the time, the move, the lessons learned while living in our home overlooking the freeway and San Diego bay. For 24 of those years He provided beautiful sunsets out my kitchen window. The sky painted differently over the view of the Coronado bridge.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16;9 (NKJV)

For years I had longed for the east coast. I wanted to see seasons change. I wanted to be on the same side of the country where I was born and grew up. I did not want to grow old in San Diego.

“I” wanted many things. The Lord had a plan and in His time, He saw those plans through. We often want to rush those plans the Lord has for us. His timing is the perfect timing though. San Diego held so many trials and problems and tests for us. We were weary of it all. Now, thirteen years later, I look back and thank God for all we experienced while living there. Friends, sunsets and food is all missed. Once more the scrapbook in my mind of our life in San Diego is always available. I can open it up, remember and be thankful for all we experienced there with our Savior.

God is so good. He is faithful and just. I will rest in His plans.

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.

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)

Changing Past Reflections

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Just a thought for today. How often do we look at our reflection and play an old record in our mind?

You know the type of recording, for some it may be a mental 77 rpm’s, a 33 long play, or a 45rpm. Or, some people listen to old mental recordings on a 8-track, cassette, or a disc. The point being, that at some point in our lives something was said, or hinted at and we recorded it in our mind. It became a part of us. It is what we listen to when we view ourselves.

Yesterday Dale and I had a conversation. It was an interesting one for both of us. We sat down to talk about what we’d like to get accomplished in the next little bit and out poured thoughts that we both thought were long buried and forgotten.

It wasn’t an argument, it was a real conversation, a good one. The result being I have since thought of the records (I’d like to say 45’s but it’s more like the long play album of a 33) that I listen to.

I have a pretty good memory, which is good, considering my age. But sometimes with that memory I think of off handed comments said in a moment and yet they cling to me like gospel truth. These thoughts do not build me up. I use them to criticize and tear myself down. I thought I had erased bad recordings, but like a stack of records you sometimes hit upon an oldie you had forgotten about.

All of this to say, for me, and hopefully someone else as weirdly wired as me, that our Lord is in the business of erasing for good all the old recordings we don’t need. Even at my age, I still discover that God isn’t finished with me yet. He continues to hold tight to me and fashion me into someone with a child like faith. Grasping onto my Savior’s hand and trusting Him to lead me where He wants me to go.

Sometimes that path means leaving the unplayed stack of records on it’s own and rediscovering melodies sang to me by God.

Looking at the Same Things

“They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23 (NKJV)

I have found out from living in various places that you can become accustomed to a place.

Growing up in Oil City, PA, I took for granted the Allegheny River and Oil Creek flowing through our town. The hills and the change of seasons were things that just happened, like clock work. They had always been there, so they would always be there.

When I married and moved to VA, I was amazed at seeing the Atlantic daily. I was in awe of the vastness of the ocean. It was an adventure, but I missed the hills of Oil City. I missed knowing where everything was. I missed home.

Eventually we left Virginia and moved to Japan. A foreign country with such a vast history was fascinating to me. The noise, the crowds, the trains, the language and the writing, each so unique and incredible to me. We eventually moved to our permanent quarters which looked out to Mt Fuji in the distance. I thought I would never tire of seeing this sight. Yet, after a few weeks I would open my blinds and continue on my day. Yes, we lived on a plateau overlooking Sagami Bay with Fuji looming behind that, but, it was home and life went on.

A few years later, we moved to the coast of Maine. Again, magnificence out our door. Lobster boats, the rock bound coast that challenged the Atlantic ocean in a different way than Virginia. The absolute cold and snow, the boundless beauty of this area. It was breathtaking and yet, during the summer I would be frustrated with tourist as they slowly made their way around the loop road. I would sigh, and say, yes, those are rocks, those are waves crashing, but I am on my way to the base, keep moving. I was accustomed to the sights.

I did the same with the view from our house in San Diego. The Coronado bridge, the bay, Point Loma, the sunsets painted by our Lord. Yet, it was home, dishes were done, meals cooked, laundry done.

It finally occurred to me that although sights capture your attention and are new when you first arrive, they become commonplace when you see them daily.

I thought of this today as I drove home from the store. The leaves on the trees lining a driveway for a farm shined brightly in the cold sunlight. It caught my attention and I asked forgiveness for taking such a beautiful view for granted.

Each day with our Lord is new. Each day is filled with fresh mercy and grace and forgiveness. How sad that our Creator wakes the world up, each place painted in a new way for a new day and we just drive down a road thinking about something entirely different.

This world was created for us. For our habitation, for our enjoyment, for our adventures and we grouse about so much.

Lord, let me see each day with Your eyes. Refresh my sight to see Your glory. Amen.