Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Load Too Heavy

Do not be bitter or angry or mad.
Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others.
~Ephesians 4:31

Oh, the gradual grasp of hatred.  Its damage begins like the crack in my windshield.  Thanks to a speeding truck on a gravel road, my window was chipped.  With time the nick became a crack, and the crack became a winding tributary... I couldn't drive my car without thinking of the jerk who drove too fast.  Though I've never seen him, I could describe him.  He is some deadbeat bum who cheats on his wife, drives with a six-pack on the seat, and keeps the television so loud the neighbors can't sleep...

Ever heard of the expression "blind rage"?

Let me be very clear.  Hatred will sour your outlook and break your back.  The load of bitterness is simply too heavy.  Your knees will buckle inder the strain, and your heart will break beneath the weight.  The mountain before you is steep enough without the heaviness of hatred on your back.  The wisest choice- the only choice- is for you to drop the anger.  You will never be called upon to give anyone more grace than God has already given you.

~From Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beautiful Dream

I have a dear friend named Heather. 
You might remember the beautiful scrapbook page she made in Jim's memory. 
She also had a dream about him, and she said it was ok for me to share it with you.

A Dream about Jim
I seem to often have dreams about people right around their death, and even though it's not unusual for me, it always takes me by surprise. Last night I dreamed about Jim.

The circumstances were a bit odd. It seems that a bunch of us were on a camping trip, some of your family and mine. Everyone was getting ready to go to home, I believe. I was in a car waiting, and my cell phone rang. It was Jim. The connection was terrible, so he kept breaking up and I couldn't make out everything he said. Even in the dream, I was aware he was gone.

What I did catch of what he said was that life was changing for his family and he wished it was easier. He also said preparing for the trip was hard, because it made him realize how disposable everything is.

I looked out the back window of the car and saw you walking in the sunshine, pregnant with Marley. I was surprised to see you pregnant. As soon as I looked at you, Jim said something about you being okay, but I'm sorry that I couldn't make out more of it.

I kept telling him I was sorry to make him repeat himself because the connection was breaking up. Before the connection cut out all together,
I asked if he was in pain, and he said,
"Well, no. I'm here now."

That's all I remember.

Love you more than I can say,

Needless to say, this was such an encouragement to me!
The thought of Jim finally being in NO PAIN is one of the things
that helps me as we wait to be reunited with him someday in Heaven.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chubby Cheeked Babe

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Look at the drool!

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We saw this look a lot when she was little.
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Again with the drool...

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This one might be my favorite!

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Or maybe it was this one.

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Ok, I love them ALL!
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Isn't this the most beautiful dress?
Thanks, Irma!
A friend (and excellent photographer!) from Michigan took these photos of Marley when she was nine months old.  Lee came to our house and very patiently took some of my favorite baby photos of Marley. 
Click HERE to go to Lee's website.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Voice of Adventure

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
~Psalm 27:1

Jesus says the options are clear.  On one side there is the voice of safety.  You can build a fire in the hearth, stay inside, and stay warm and dry for what you don't try, right?  You can't fall if you don't take a stand, right?  You can't lose your balance if you never climb, right?  So don't try it.  Take the safe route.

Or you can hear the voice of adventure- God's adventure.  Instead of building a fire in your hearth, build a fire in your heart.  Follow God's implulses.  Adopt the child.  Move overseas.  Teach the class.  Change careers.  Run for office.  Make a difference.  Sure it isn't safe, but what is?

~From Grace for the Moment, by Max Lucado

Fall Photos

Fall was Jim and my favorite season.  There's just something about those sunny, crisp days.  I love when the sky is bright blue and the leaves are ablaze with color!  One afternoon Marley and I went outside for a little bit of fun.  It was the first fall that she was old enough to play in the leaves, and I'll never forget how she'd pick them up and spin them around in her fingers, intently studying each one.  So, of course I couldn't resist getting out my camera...

This was Jim's favorite photo out of the group.
He loved this sweater!

I think this one is my favorite.

Love the potbelly!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Finding Good in the Bad

Wish good for those who harm you;
wish them well and do not curse them.
~Romans 12:14

It would be hard to find someone worse than Judas.  Some say he was a good man with a backfired strategy.  I don't buy that.  The Bible says, "Judas... was a thief" (John 12:6).  The man was a crook.  Somehow he was able to live in the presence of God and experience the miracles of Christ and remain unchanged.  In the end he decided he'd rather have money than a friend, so he sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver... Judas was a scoundrel, a cheat, and a bum.  How could anyone see him any other way?

I don't know, but Jesus did.  Only inches from the face of his betrayer, Jesus looked at him and said, "Friend, do what you came to do" (Matthew 26:50).  What Jesus saw in Judas as worthy of being called a friend, I can't imagine.  But I do know that Jesus doesn't lie, and in that moment he saw something good in a very bad man...

He can help us do the same with those who hurt us.

~From Grace for the Moment, by Max Lucado

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Favorite Picture

Hi! I'm hijacking Megan's blog to post this picture. Aren't they gorgeous?!?! :)

Love you both,


Wordless Wednesday

Ian, Brooke, and Marley
Mamaw Paula

Monday, October 10, 2011

iPhone Rocks!

Earlier this year I got an iPhone.  I love it because I have access to a phone, email, FaceBook, iPod, and a bajillion other apps that make life easier (think Maps) and more fun (think Monopoly, Yahtzee, Solitaire). 
All in the palm of my hand. 

Marley has also enjoyed my phone and has become quite adept at unlocking it, sliding it to the second page, which looks like this:
She also knows that all of her stuff is in three folders: Games, Entertainment, and Books.  She has become quite adept at playing dress-up

or coloring

or how to pick her favorite story to hear.
I love these books because they're often less expensive than their paper counterparts, can come along anywhere, and have games that go along with them.  And if I don't want to listen to them, she can use my earbuds and I can enjoy a little bit of quiet time!  They've come in handy at ball games, in the car, at doctor offices.  No backpack full of stuff to carry around or items to pick up (or lose!).
Although I do find it disconcerting that my child can navigate my phone more easily than I  can, I have to say...
iPhone rocks!

Friday, October 7, 2011


I have my work cut out for me when it comes to turning my little girl into a lady...

Thank goodness she's wearing shorts!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


 Wouldn't life be better if everyone started the day with a big bowl of Cheerios...
                                                                               ...and a silly face?

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Visit

I wrote this for English class...
A Visit
            I’ve driven by the cemetery thousands of times before.  It’s on the way to my parents’ house, right off the highway.  Today it’s a sunny day, and my big blue truck meanders down the highway at a legal 55 miles per hour.  The windows are down, and the heat is on.  It’s the best kind of day for a drive~ the warmth of the sun on my arm as it hangs out the window, heat on the floor keeping my sandal-clad feet from getting cold, sunglasses protecting my eyes from the afternoon glare, but not so dark as to take away the gloriousness that is a crisp, sunny, cool day.  It’s easy to let my mind wander as I travel down the highway, the loud hum of my oversized mud tires and the rush of the wind the only music I need to hear.  The road is clear, not a vehicle in sight, and the gentle curves of the blacktop are unbroken except for the gently climbing and falling hills as I head out of town. 
         Before I know it, the turn signal interrupts my daydream, seeming to turn on all by itself to let me know that I’ve arrived.  The clicking sound reminds me to slow down and I glance in the rearview mirror to make sure no one is behind me.  The truck jolts as I turn off the highway, over the hump of the driveway.   The smooth hum of tires changes to a heavy crunch as I move over the gravel.  The drive is narrow, and goes straight back.  I slow to a crawl, careful not to let my wide vehicle slip off the drive and disturb the thick grass on either side.  A sigh escapes from somewhere deep inside me as I absently drive by the perfectly straight rows of stones belonging to people who used to walk among the living but now lie at rest.  I see all different shapes and sizes.  Some are simple, regal, quietly standing guard over the person lying below.  Some are ornately decorated with flowers and hanging plants and generic silk flower signs like “Mom” or “Grandpa”.  My eyes wander idly over them, because they’re not the reason I’m here.  I guide my truck past them all, to the very back.  I roll to a slow stop, slide the gearshift into park, and roll down the windows.  It’s warm enough that the truck will be really hot when I get back inside if I don’t.  Another long sigh escapes my lips as I hop down out of the truck.  I grab the flowers I’ve brought, along with a wicked sharp knife that is smooth on one side and serrated on the other to cut them.  It was his knife, and now it lives in the pocket on the door of my truck.
          My eyes search near the fence for a familiar place, somewhere I’ve spent many hours since last January.  I smile when I see it.  My feet seem to carry me there all on their own, traveling the way they’ve passed at least a couple dozen times.  As I crunch over the gravel I think to myself that my flip-flops are getting worn out.  They’ve gone almost everywhere I’ve gone this summer, and the sharper rocks penetrate the thin spots and poke my feet a little.  Soon my feet sink into long grass, and I can’t resist the urge to take off my shoes and walk barefoot.  The grass is cool and the ground is smooth, and my feet are relieved to be free of those blasted shoes.  I feel more respectful this way anyway, entering into peoples’ places of rest barefoot, almost as a sign of respect.  I head toward the back, carefully stepping around the graves of people I don’t know.  I hear a voice in my head (maybe it was my mom?) telling me not to walk on other peoples’ graves, so I do my best.  There are many open spaces here in the back, and I walk slowly toward the stone that I love, the knife in its sheath in my pocket, the flowers in my hand.  They’re blue and white, the team colors of the Indianapolis Colts.  I hadn’t picked those colors on purpose, but I chuckle when I think about how he would appreciate that.  Finally I am there. 
            The stone stands there, silent, thick, and strong, just like he was.  It’s tall, with an irregular shape, not square or rectangular like most of the stones in this place.  Smooth on the front and back and rough around the edges, like it’s been chiseled by hand, it is reminiscent of the man it represents.  I walk around to the back and see the verse from II Timothy, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.”.   It brings peace as I think about the long and difficult fight that consumed his last three years as he struggled against illness.  The letters are etched in the stone to remind any who visit of his strength, his perseverance, and his drive to try everything possible to stay here with his little daughter as long as he could.  On the front his name is carved in large, bold, strong-looking letters, along with the usual dates, which are separated by a simple cross.  Below that it tells when he married the woman he loved faithfully and the name of his daughter he adored so passionately.  It also speaks of the child he now gets to hold in Heaven. 
            I look at the empty flower vases, and feel glad that I’ve brought some to fill that empty space.  The crisp white carnations will look good against the ebony stone, with a little blue here and there.  My eye settles on the Notre Dame emblem engraved in the stone and I laugh when I remember the near-coronaries he had while he watched football.  He was a quiet man by nature, but football awoke his inner beast.  As my eyes sink down to the foundation under the stone, I feel my brow furrow in frustration.  It’s covered with yellowed, dry grass.  Irritated, I scrape away handfuls of it all the way around and wonder if the people who mow this place even cast a thought toward the feelings of the people who visit and how they might feel to see piles discarded so carelessly on the graves of those who are important to them.  After tossing the pile of grass over the fence into the cornfield nearby, I wipe stray pieces off the back and  the face of the stone, and I catch my scowling reflection in the black granite.  When I get around to the front, I tenderly wipe the etched image of the man who lies below, clearing the last bit of grass.  When my eyes settle on the smirk on his lips, permanently engraved there in bright contrast to the stone and I laugh when I think about what he’d say to me~ “You’re whining about grass?  What about the bird sh#t on top of this rock??”.  I grin ruefully; he’s right, I know.  But it feels like a bird’s deposit is somehow less offensive than careless mowing.  I make a mental note to bring some water to clean it off next time if it hasn’t rained.  My duties done, I sit down to start working on the flowers. 
I love this corner of the graveyard.   There’s only one row behind his stone, and it’s mostly empty.  It’s quiet here, and I can spend time talking to or thinking about this man I love so much.  I can barely hear the sounds of cars as they whiz down the highway.  It feels private, and I can let my emotions come through without worrying that people can see me as I work and talk and pray.  The fence that separates the cemetery from the cornfield behind it is old, with weeds and flowers growing up through it.  The corn is getting dry; it’s almost harvest time and the yellowed leaves rub and rustle together, providing a soothing curtain of sound between me and the rest of the world.  I think about how he told me he liked this spot last year when we were talking about it, and he was right. There’s a little bit of a breeze, just enough to be pleasant. It’s peaceful here.  I keep arranging the flowers, buried in thoughts and memories.  I tell him the latest antics of our three-year-old daughter.  Time seems to stand still here in this quiet restful place, and it’s soothing to my soul. 
            The flowers are done, and I’ve said what I need to say today.  I stand up and take one last look, pleased with the symmetry the flowers add.  I kiss my fingers and gently caress the image of the man I’ve loved for nearly a decade.  “I’ll see you next time, Sugar,” I say, and turn to leave.  The cool grass beneath my feet brings me back to the present, to the responsibilities that await me after I leave this place.  I sigh again.  It’s time to go.