Spring Gifts


So long since I’ve written here……My life has meandered through days and nights, weeks and months. Good and bad. Life and death. Tears of joy and sorrow.

Glorious seasons have nearly passed me by. The sizzling days of last summer slowly f.e.l.l. into an autumn were colored and crispy canopies drifted slowly down from cobalt blue to form crunchy piles of leaves for children to hide or play in. It wasn’t long before powdered sugar doilies sprinkled from puffy gray clouds that hovered above, while grandbabies begged to build lopsided snowmen below.

Finally, we’ve sprung into my favorite brush strokes on earth, where miniature rainbows sprout from the ground beneath feet of bare. Here and there and everywhere. Dart my eyes, cock my head or turn around to catch the beauty of God’s perfect watercolor pictures here and there and everywhere.

Delicate shades leap from tree limbs in powder puffs of pink together with blossom stars of white. The lake of azure near my home breeds new breaths of life. Mallard ducks honk close to shore guarding nests nearby. Birds of several varieties sing in harmony from morning dawn to the glow of moonlight while gathering food for bald babies hidden among the green of pine needles or within the waxiness of safety.

To me, spring is one of the greatest gifts on earth, a season of a budding essence, bringing peace and respite to my soul through the grace of nature.

Many blessings to all on this great Good Friday.

 

Taking Time for Change


Recently, I’ve gone through a period of feeling overwhelmed in life. Not depressed. No, I’d compare it to feeling like a small green pea in a big pot of vegetable stew. Small, while trying to stay afloat……

After helping my father with his wife’s memorial service in Arizona, I planned to catch a plane back to St. Louis where an estate sale was in process, selling off many of my home’s objects together with a long list of life’s memories.  Unfortunately, I was a day late getting back due to weather delays and missed connections. When time was of the essence, I ended up spending a total of 19 hours in the small airport of Grand Junction, Colorado. Finally, a day later, my plane was diverted to Denver, where I grabbed a quick nap from 3-5 am before catching a non-stop flight to my original destination.

Upon arriving, there was barely time to say “Goodbye” to the home I loved so much. Quickly, I walked through my turret office space, where blog posts were tapped on keys of black. I strolled into the periwinkle nursery where I remembered gently placing my very first grand-baby in her spindled crib, as though she was a porcelain doll. Images of magical tea parties danced in my head together with giggles, dress up play, and story book time.

Afterward, I stepped outside onto the red brick pavers of my patio where fingers traced petals of crunchy golden sunflowers. Looking around, I began to collect a few, forgotten colored clay pots leftover from my garden. Suddenly, a brown sugar doe leaped from the woods. Sighing, my heart knew it was God’s last gift to me….at least at this house, in this time.

It’s been three weeks since I’ve moved to my new house, and I’m mostly settled now. For whatever reason, my body and mind felt spent when all was said and done. In moves past, I worked until everything was completely in place, typically within a few days to a week. Not this time. I was tired. I let things go. My mind said, “No.”

I’m happy in my new home. There is lots of room for my grand-babies to stay for as long as they like. Nearby, there is a beautiful lake surrounded by woods and walking trails with lots of nature. In fact, it’s a nature preserve where I see something new each and every day. A different plant, the sound of a bird’s call or the beauty of a new sunrise.

Best of all, my overwhelming feeling is beginning to lift. I guess I didn’t drown in that pot of vegetable stew after all.

 

“My Angel”


My father lost his beloved wife, Eileen on Monday evening after a four-month battle with cancer.

About two weeks ago, I was able to speak to her over the phone. “Your father has been my angel,” she said.

Last evening, again on the telephone, my father asked for my help in preparing Eileen’s memorial brochure for the funeral service. Even though I’ll be in Phoenix later today, he needed to get started on the information immediately. So, I sent him a photograph that I took last year at 5:30 in the morning while visiting the two of them.

As I forwarded the photo on to my father, I mentioned to him that it might be appropriate for someplace in Eileen’s memorial. I remember how she loved it so.  To me, it symbolizes Heaven, with the clouds above appearing to look like angel wings. My father agreed.

“I called her my Angel,” he cried through tears.

How ironic. Two Angels. One on earth and now one in Heaven above.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…

Philippians 1:3

Tugging at Heartstrings


In deciding what books to keep or donate before my move, I came across a small volume of poetry I hadn’t seen or touched in quite some time. A small hardcover, it cheerfully greeted me with a child’s colored hearts in red, pink and yellow on a cover of white. The title is, Journey Through Heartsongs, by Mattie J.T. Stepanek, published in 2001.

For those of you who don’t know, Mattie Stepanek, (July 17, 1990-June 22, 2004) wanted to be remembered as “a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played.” He was an amazing child who published seven best-selling books of poetry during his short thirteen years of life. Mattie had an innate sense of being, an intuition far beyond imagination which he brought not only to his poetry but to everyone he met. I urge all of you to read about his life at the following link. Quite simply, he was a remarkable being. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattie_Stepanek

Mattie lived with the Chronic Condition of Muscular Dystrophy and left us all with gifts unimaginable. My own heartstrings sing a melody of lyrics thanks to his writing. It’s no accident that I rediscovered the jacket of this dusty book.  I stopped to read it from cover to cover this morning, carefully placing it in a box next to some of my very favorites, marked, “Library.”

Crystal Celebration

Sometimes, 

Sunrise is like a heavenly crystal ball.

Everyday,

In the little bit of time between night and day,

The angels look at the earth

To see how things are going and

To see how things will be.

The sky changes from dark

Into Angel-whites and Angel-golds.

The blackness of trees starts to glow with

Pinks and purples and oranges from their hearts.

And during each dawn,

All the Angels gather up and have

A celebration in God’s honor!

And sometimes,

You can even watch

And join them in the celebrating.

Just look out into the sunrise,

Then jump into your own heart,

Float into the air like in a dream,

And pray with love and thank-yous

For your life, for your spirit, for your sunrise…

And for being a part of this heavenly crystal ball!

                           Mattie-Age 6

Angels Sunset

*painting courtesy of Google Chrome

A Soldier’s Boots


Please help bring me back

Pink eraser to wipe away pain in my head

Untie laces of dusty brown from sandy boots on feet

Remove them one by one to stroke white of limbs

 

Hold fingerless hand while stroking healing scars

Kiss my cheek with warm gentle lips

Like an angel’s light warm so bright

I’m more than a uniform of flesh and bones

 

Look at me and you may see what I used to be

I was your neighbor next door

A father or mother, a husband or wife

A sister or brother, an uncle or aunt, a cousin or friend

 

People loved me

Yes, I used to feel real…

With a body that moved this way and that

Before these sandy boots on my feet

 

I laughed and joked

Sat in the grass to play with my kids

Skipped in bare feet near the ocean so blue

Walked to the store or drove a car

 

Shared picnics in tall grass, played sports at the park

No panic attacks or tremors way back

Never afraid of the dark or sounds of lighting storms

No sleep in my head since sandy boots on my feet

 

Fear of bad dreams, flashbacks with sweats

Blood of red, children dying, tears on my face, I can’t stop crying

Screams of silence, guns and violence

Take me away, end the pain

 

Stop me now, I beg of you

Lend me your hand to pray with me

 

Hope arises to see all ahead

To be free again I must be strong

The boots on my feet I wear no more

I”ve left the sandy soles near the ocean shore

*In dedication to all of America’s devoted soldiers who serve our country day after day after day in the name of freedom.

I thank you more than you’ll every know. Wishing all and everyone a Happy Memorial Day!

 

**Photographs courtesy of Google Chrome

The Rainbow


My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began,

So is it now I am a man,

So be it when I shall grow old

      Or let me die!

The Child is father of the Man:

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.”

                                  William Wordsworth

rainbow-0457

Written 3/26/1802

Published: 1807

*Photograph courtesy of Google Chrome

 

As Long As You Both Shall Live….


“As long as you both shall live.”

*Those are the last words I remember hearing thirty years ago today, May 19, 1984. A few seconds later, I smiled beaming with the words, “I do. Although only a step or two away from me, the minister’s gravelly voice seemed to echo from far, far away. Off in the distance….perhaps bouncing off trees in a lush forest land.

At the time, I had eyes and ears only for the husband to be. There he stood, facing me. His green eyes pierced the blue of my own while he gripped my hands, squeezing them. It was his signal before God that we would always be together. My soon-to-be husband would take care of me, protect me, love me, and be loyal and true. Thirty years later he has proven this together with much more good than I ever imagined.

On our beautiful, warm wedding day in May, the two of us had no idea where the road of life would lead. A fantasy land we did not expect. Nor, the reality we ended up living. Still, neither of us would change a thing. In the end, we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

When families raise a chronically ill child, there is a 75% or greater chance the marriage will end in divorce. My husband and I raised two children living with chronic conditions. Both were diagnosed at very young ages within six months of each other. Our odds of divorcing might have increased a bit at that point…

My husband traveled a minimum of 120 nights a year over a 20 year period as a district manager for an eye care company. He loved his job while I loved it for him. Still, it took a toll on the two of us. When the days and nights were added up, seven years of our marriage were spent apart from one another. I often resented him for being away, while he often resented me for being able to stay. Eventually, we both had breaking points.

When needed, my husband was there for me, taking a short leave of  absence from work. He jumped right in, took care of our boys, washed clothes and even learned to cook! In return, I did the same for him when the time came. Isn’t that what couples do for one another? We sought outside help to work on our marriage…more than once. No, it wasn’t always easy. I guess that’s why it’s called work. But, early on, we decided our marriage was worth it….we were worth it. For our children, for our family, for the whole of us.

There are lessons learned that I’ll pass on to others now that I have the opportunity. Take time…any time for couplehood. A walk in the park, a cup of coffee or a simple hour to hold hands and talk. No, not about the kids! Do not lay blame…ever! It’s okay to cry, go ahead and ask God, why? Find a church, ask for help, don’t be proud, seek support, tell a friend, and take a break for heaven’s sake!

Today as I celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary, I am thankful for the best husband one could ever wish for in life. I thank God for every hardship we ever endured, every lesson ever learned. How wonderful to have lived through ALL of the good times and the bad, the happy and the sad. We have such an enormous history together. Rich, full of memories and moments with more to come, God willing.

Happy Anniversary to my dear husband, with love, forever and always….

*Two years ago when I wrote this post originally, my husband and I were not able to officially celebrate our milestone anniversary. This year, we’re away for a few days, soaking up the sun and sand while celebrating 30 years + two! Blessings to all of you.

 

Miniature Miracles


A few days ago, I was invited by my dear friend to be a guest at a charity luncheon and fashion show, benefiting one of our leading hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). An annual function, tremendous effort is put forth by a group of tireless volunteers who work to make everything perfect. Donations of graceful blooms are gathered together with assorted gift baskets that hold everything from hand-made jewels to trips to Disneyland. All are proudly displayed on tables of long, draped in berry and gold. Baskets are beautifully wrapped in clear cellophane, where admiring bidders drool while raising funds to save innocent babies born too soon.

Not long ago, another friend of mine suddenly found herself in the midst of a hospital NICU. There, she came to know it intimately. In the beginning, she was shocked with pain and grief. The feeling hit her, unexpectedly. Fast, like a freight train running off its tracks. At the time, my friend’s daughter was six months pregnant with twin boys. Snips and snails and puppy dog tails….Quietly, God whisked one tiny soul off to heaven, leaving behind his fragile brother within the quiet of his mother’s womb.

My friend’s daughter lay in a sterile hospital bed, following doctor’s orders while praying to bring her last little lamb to a full term of “40 weeks.” Tears flowed for the infant angel that had already left an emptiness inside of her. Still, each morning she woke without having delivered, she whispered tears of thankfulness to God as well as both of her sons. One unborn, the other in heaven above.

There may be risk factors or possible causes of premature labor, but very little anyone can do to prevent it. Mothers should never blame themselves. Only God decides when a baby comes into this world. http://www.marchofdimes.org. Still too soon, my friend’s first grandson was born weighing not much more than a pound of butter. Yet, he was breathing and alive! Doctors and nurses rushed him to the NICU, where the child of innocence fought for his life. The whole of his family spent the next three months on a hospital roller coaster ride, thankful for each breath the fragile child took, each beat his tiny heart drummed.

Truly, God works miracles. Through the skill a fine team of pediatric physicians and neonatal specialists together with nurses who surely wear hidden wings under their scrubs, the day finally came for my friend’s grandson to go home. There, an extended family eagerly waited to give the three-month-old newborn more loving care than any child could imagine. Today, the little toddler of curly hair and smiles of pearls is exactly where he needs to be on all of the doctor’s charts! He’s a darling boy loved by all and everyone.

When God’s seed is planted within a woman’s womb, a mother’s love is instinctual, pure and undeniable. It exists the moment she suspects a tiny life-force grows within her. She glows from that moment on, knowing she carries a miniature miracle deep inside while fingertips gently caress a growing belly. Friends and families get excited, fathers support their wives while future sibling’s eyes grow wide with wonder.

Yes, a bouncing baby boy. Truly a gift from God to be forever thankful for…..

*With many thanks to the physicians and nurses in NICU’s everywhere for saving little lives. Bless you each and every day.

premature baby pic

Morning Tree


morning tree

Early shadows dancing

Near siding the color of buff

God’s gift of nature balancing

On branches….hiding

Listen closely, a chirp, a tweet

Cup your hand

Sweet songs to hear

A tiny rooftop home 

Swings side to side

Rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye

Do not stop for fear 

Feathered wings shall soar

Toward skies of azure blue

Suddenly all is clear

No longer can I resist

Hopping up to peek inside the ‘O’

Ahhh…..baited breath beholds

A tiny toasted colored nest

In the bosom of infinite rest

Speckled sparrow eggs

1-2-3-4 for me to see

Warming in my Morning Tree

DSC_0938

Miracles in the Merry Month of May


A short time ago a new resident moved into a little house hanging from a tree outside my office window. It is so pleasant to know that my new neighbor is near. Whenever I glance outside my turret window glass, there is a tiny gray house trimmed in blue with a “Welcome” sign for me to see.

Before pulling into my garage over the weekend, I noticed tail feathers of royal blue and black sticking outside the entrance of a bungalow. In the past, the round of the door was clear and open, allowing no feathers to be seen. Often, the beak of Mama Bird could be seen slightly sticking through an invisible screen. There I presume, she sat on a nest keeping her gorgeous blue eggs warm until it was time….

Parking my car quickly, I ran over to the tree where the little house hung for me to see. So excited at the thought of what was to be! Grasping a rough gray branch to steady myself, I climbed atop the flat surface of a limestone boulder. Swinging slightly under a canopy of freshly blooming leaves smiled the familiar Welcome sign.

Swoosh! Tail feathers abruptly flew away. My heart pounded while I held my breath…1-2-3, before I squinted to see. The whole of the house was dark and quiet to the outside world, surrounded by wall to wall warmth. All hand-made by God’s miracle of nature. One tiny beak had created an artist’s masterpiece to prepare for birth. How many days had it taken her? How many hours or minutes or seconds? How long had she labored before and afterward? https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Bluebird/lifehistory

Too dim to capture a photograph, I can only describe what my eyes did see. Three itty-bitty newborns, barely hours old, scrunched together in order to remain warm. They were wrinkly, bald and beautiful. Tufts of fluff seemed to be patched here and there. On top of their heads, near wings and underneath. Their oversized eyes remained shut while they slept like any newborns would. I was in awe!

After going back inside to work, I opened a window. Just then, Mama bird landed on a branch with a wiggly worm between her beak dangling in chestnut color. Her newborn’s first meal perhaps? Seconds later, she flew to join Father Bird who waited patiently above, before they chirped cheerfully.

Since then, I’ve seen the parents every day, working together to feed their brood. Their songs greet me morning, noon, and night in a lyrical melody that captures my heart.

Miracles in the Merry Month of May.

*three photos to the left courtesy of Google Chrome