Sunday, December 14, 2014

Girlfriend Gathering ~ 2014

When you divorce later in life, most of your friends are married, and you quickly learn that establishing new friendships isn't easy. You want someone who “gets” you on a certain level, and allows you to be yourself without judgment. You also want someone you are comfortable with when conversation is sparse. Someone you can do nothing with and not worry about it.  Someone who doesn’t just talk, but who also listens. Someone who doesn’t miss a beat when the demands of life keep you apart.

I've been blessed with friends like that, and for a while now, I’ve wanted to gather them in my home, introduce them to each other and enjoy their company as a whole. It finally happened last night, and it was just as lovely (and lively!) as I knew it would be. 

Over bowls of spicy jambalaya, we talked, listened, laughed, drank sweet tea and made merry. I’m thinking it should be an annual thing. Me. Them. Us. One of my friends had previous plans, but maybe next year she'll fill the empty chair at the table.

Someone once said that when you die, if you've got five real friends, you've had a great life. These four beautiful women—each unique and special—are real friends to me, and I'm so grateful our paths crossed. We've shared tears, fears, heartaches and headaches, but also joy and smiles. I pray I have enriched their lives in some small way. They have certainly enriched mine. ♦

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Blurry Days of November

November went by in a blur for me. Most of the hours were spent at work, doing what I do, five days a week. I am grateful for my job—and it does keep me sane—but it leaves little time for investing in things I truly love and enjoy. Nevertheless, November offered spare moments here and there, and I tried to invest in them wisely. Here is how they looked.

Miss Audrey—my little ray of sunshine. Although weekends with her wear my body out, the joy she brings can't be measured.

Much of our time together is spent with books. She absorbs each page, and never gets enough.

I love this picture of her, busy in her room. I cherish each moment we share.

She loves the refrigerator, and Nonni lets her enjoy it until she's done. The soy sauce is a big draw, and she seems to think it's a bottle.

Her precious feet. I pray God guides them as she grows.

A new pull-toy brought excitement. Love the PJs and socks.
The hairbrush is a favorite thing to carry around.

Baths are her favorite. She could live in the tub. This smile melts my heart every time.

My mom and dad came over for a brief visit. Mother brought her a new book, and she wasted no time in having it read to her by one and all.

We posed before the good-byes. How special these moments are. We never know what a day will bring.

She loves music, and I feel certain she'll be a musician some day. I love her tiny hands in this photo. 

And my little bookworm reads another book.

Clowning for the camera with Nonni. 

Fall foliage finally arrived in Southeast Texas. It's always a welcomed sight. 

FaceTime with Nonni. It never gets old.

My daughter sent me this shot. I almost cry every time I look at it. That sweet innocent face. If only I could keep her young and carefree.

Thanksgiving Day was hosted by my parents. It was my daughter's first Thanksgiving with her husband, and I was grateful we were together.

I love the little girl on my lap, and I love how she is very relaxed and dangling. She is watching "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," and she finds it thrilling every time. The proof is in the video below. Once you watch it, you'll be so happy you stuck around. :-)


And now, it's December.

Dear Lord, tomorrow is promised to no one. Help me spend the moments I can investing in things that truly matter.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I Now Pronounce Them Husband and Wife

Photo by: Swindell Photography

My daughter recently eloped with the man of her dreams. Initially, there were twinges of sadness that I wasn't able to experience this joyous day with her—a day that she's dreamed about her whole life. But those sad feelings didn't last long. It's her story to write, and I'm thrilled she married a man she loves and one who loves her and her daughter, equally. He is a special man in so many ways, and I'm delighted to have him for a son-in-law. I pray their commitment will last a lifetime, and the love they share will transcend all obstacles that come their way. ♥

Friday, October 10, 2014

True Forgiveness Sets Free

Are you one of those human beings who perpetually punishes people who did you wrong? If you hear their names, do you immediately say ugly things about them, making sure the wounds inflicted remain visible and raw? Do you secretly (or openly) wish them harm? Do you smile when problems come their way? If you answered yes to any of the above, you haven't practiced true forgiveness.

Forgiving someone who wounded you isn't an easy thing to do. In fact, it can be more painful than the wound inflicted. You want them to pay for what they did. You want them to suffer and bleed. You want them to fall in a dark hole in a snake-infested forest. You want them to get chiggers and die scratching. You want them to get what they deserve!

But true forgiveness seeks just the opposite. 

True forgiveness issues a pardon, and gives the guilty person a free pass out of jail. Does that mean you forget what was done to you? No. But forgiveness isn't about forgetting. Forgiveness is about remembering...without revenge. And once you cease to remember the sin against the sinner, you've set that person free—and you've also set yourself free from his or her control. As you have forgiven others, God can now forgive you.

Warren Wiersbe once wrote, "The most miserable prison in the world is the prison we make for ourselves when we refuse to show mercy." Truer words were never spoken, and no matter how deep the wound or how evil the deed, life is too short to live it behind bars of your own making. ♦

I'm linking to: Spiritual Sundays


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Squeezing the Moments ~ Audrey in the Arboretum

Saturday was spectacular in my neighborhood, with a hint of fall whispering though the pines. In an effort to seize the glorious moments, I loaded my beloved granddaughter in the car, picked up the twin sister, and headed to the nearby arboretum.

Here are a few pictures to paint a few thousand words.

My blue-eyed beauty with "Bop."

Looking adorable with her sunglasses on.

Pausing to pose.

A smile for Nonni and Aunt Dayle.

We started off hand-in-hand, but the open space
(and even the stony paths) were calling her name,
and she was almost impossible to contain.

Nonni breaks into a trot...

and Miss Audrey is off and running.

I'm linking to Outdoor Wednesday.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rocking Miss Audrey

Audrey's Room at Nonni's - where we rock.
My granddaughter has spent several nights with me lately, and there isn’t anything I cherish more than rocking her at bedtime. It’s beyond magical. Just me and her. Her little head on my shoulder, me rubbing her back, the night-light glowing in the darkness. Holding such innocence so close is a tiny glimpse of God, no doubt, and my heart almost can’t hold the love I feel. I know how fleeting these days are, and I treasure each memory that we’re making together.

Of course, I don’t just rock her—I sing softly as we rock, and I've been doing that since she's been born. Believe it or not, the last two weekends, she’s been calling out song requests. It’s so precious. Tonight was no exception.

Audrey and Bop this afternoon - 9/27/14
After we settled into the rocking chair, without lifting her head from my shoulder, she whispered, “B.I.B.” That’s one of her favorite songs—“The B.I.B.L.E.” It was one of her mother’s favorites, as well, and I commenced singing it in my best nonni voice. As soon as it came to an end, she called out another request. “Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock.” That’s a song I wrote on the fly one rocking weekend, and it’s been a big hit in her world ever since.

After that, it was “Eeesus,” which means “Jesus Loves The Little Children,” or “Jesus Loves Me.” I don’t know which, but either one is fine with her, and I usually sing both. Then the list repeats itself, over and over and over. Sometimes, I barely sing two lines, and she’s requesting the next tune.

Tonight, she requested something new. 

Ohhhh Bop.

Bop is what she calls her stuffed lamb. I said, “Nonni doesn’t know any song about Bop, but I can write one.” And with that, I started singing. “Ohhhh, Bop. Ohhhh, Bop! Bop! Bop! Ohhhh, Bop. Ohhhh, Bop! Bop! Bop!” At that point, she started chuckling, and by the time I finished up the tune, we were both laughing soooo hard—her little head still on my shoulder, and me still rubbing her back.

The Oak Ridge Boys sang a song years ago called “Thank God for Kids.” The last line of the chorus says: “The nearest thing to heaven is a child.” Indeed, it is, and I'm working hard on being a fixed face in the life of my granddaughter and staying as close to heaven as I possibly can. ♥

Grandmothers are the people who take delight in hearing babies breathing into the telephone. ~ Unknown

I'm linking to:

Friday, August 29, 2014

August 22, 2014

My dearest Audrey,

I had been looking forward to you spending the night with me all month, so when you finally arrived Friday evening, I couldn’t open the front door fast enough. And there you were, on the hip of Aunt Courtney, your blonde hair aglow in the August sun, smiling from ear-to-ear and reaching your little arms my direction. Nonni’s heart all but exploded with joy.

The next few hours zipped by as we sang old songs and learned new songs, and read old books and new books, and laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more. Your smile is totally infectious, and when you laugh, it’s straight from the heart.

Aunt Dayle popped in to see her “pie,” and my, oh, my—there was dancing in the foyer. I mean, really. Aunt Dayle could’ve won a prize or something. I’m thankful you have Aunt Dayle in your life. You’ll be thankful, too, as the years go by.

And then it was just us again.

After dinner was done, we washed our hands at the kitchen sink. You love running water, and you promptly decided an all-out splashing was what you really needed, feet and all. So, Nonni canceled plans for a bathtub bath, and a sink bath quickly ensued. And what fun you had with my less-than-inventive bath toy of a small plastic bowl, filling it up and pouring it out again.

Once you were dried off, I put some smell-good lotion on you and dressed you for bed. It had been a long time since I had been with you at bedtime, and even longer since you had spent the night at my house, so I was a bit anxious about how the evening would go.

With your bottle and favorite blanket in hand, we climbed the stairs to your room. As evening shadows gathered outside, I sat in the rocker, hoping you would let me rock you for awhile. And you did. It was heaven on earth. I sang and hummed one of your favorite songs until your little eyes grew heavy with sleep. Once I laid you down, you drifted off into a peaceful slumber.

As daylight sifted through the bedroom curtains, I heard you jabbering in your crib. There is nothing any sweeter than the sound of you jabbering, and I am sure heaven’s choir stopped to listen in. Another day was about to start, and sunshine was in abundant supply. ♦

Saturday, August 9, 2014

12 Years Post Divorce - God Is Faithful

Although I don't celebrate divorce, I have celebrated God's faithfulness to me every year since mine, and this month marks 12 years of living on my own. Some years have been especially difficultjoblessness, physical challenges, stupid personal choices and troubling realities beyond my control. But the good years have outnumbered the bad, and for that I'm truly grateful. As I've said before, in feast or in famine, three things get me through life: Faith, Family and Friends.

Without question, God has blessed me with wonderful FRIENDS. Some live near; some live far. Some are old; some are new. But all have made this journey a little easier in some way. A meaningful card, a caring phone call, a timely text message. Lunch, dinner, breakfast. Even if we only shared a cup of coffee, your outstretched hands meant more than I can say, and I am honored to call you friend.

Thanksgiving - 2013

Having a FAMILY to love and listen when times are hard is something money cannot buy, of course, and I'm beyond grateful for mine. Each member holds a special place in my heart.


My parents have always epitomized unconditional lovemeaning they haven't always agreed with my choices in life, but they have always loved me, and have always been there for me when I was in need. I have given that same kind of love to my child, and no child should ever be without it.

After my divorce, Mom and Dad were pillars of strength. Not only did they open their arms, but when things didn't go as I had planned, they opened their home. Day, after gloomy day, while I tried to focus and get my footing, they reassured me that the rain wouldn't last forever. The clouds would surely part. The sun would shine again. Sometimes you just have to walk by FAITH.

And walk by FAITH, I did. My journals tell the story. I revisited them this week.

When days turned into months, and I couldn't find a job, I wrote of how faithful God is. When I was barely making enough money to put food on my table, I wrote of how faithful God is. When disappointments came, I wrote of how faithful God is. When I felt betrayed by those I trusted, I wrote of how faithful God is. No matter how bleak the days were—and there were many bleak, bleak daysI was never without hope, as long as I had my FAITH


And my FAITH didn't go unrewarded, of courseAs the old hymn says, "All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!" I don't know what my journey would look like without my FAITH, but I know how favored it's been because of it. 


Likewise, I don't know what my life would look like without my two sisters, but how rich it's been because of them! They are like giant sequoias in life's national forest, rooted deep and soaring skyward. Even in the midst of their own battles, they still lift my head when needed and help me find courage to fight another day.

We all need words of encouragement sometimes, and when you hear them from someone who has faced and fought their own fires of adversity, they aren't just hollow words, my friend. You can take them to the bank.

Of course, my journey would've been much lonelier without my beloved Leslie at my side. Her very existence kept me going when death seemed less painful. She is truly God's gift to me, and I love her without measure.

Regardless of why parents divorce, all children are innocent victims, often taking on roles they weren't intended to play, and their struggles can last a lifetime. It's easy for both parents to lose sight of that. One parent is usually focused on self-survival, while the other parent is usually just focused on self. In both cases, the children get lost in the rubble, like war torn refugees.

After it became clear that Leslie and I would be living on our own, she made this poignant collage for me pictured below. She was 16 at the time. Today, it hangs in my bathroom and is a priceless treasure.

If you look closely, near the bottom, you'll see the words, "You can lean on me." I remember the day she gave it to me, and how my heart ached and tears welled up in my eyes when reading those five little words. In fact, tears still come when I read them. Why? Because no child should ever feel the need to shoulder the load of a parent.


Undoubtedly, I could have been a better mother during the stormy years following my divorce. More times than not, I was flying by the seat of my pants, with the wipers on high, trying to see the road and stay out of the ditches. And although that doesn't excuse any failings on my part, I can't change what happened in the pastnone of us can. All I can do is focus on today.

Photo by: Megan Ella Photography

Yes, Leslie is grown and has become a strong woman in many way, but she still needs her mother. I never realized just how much until recently, and I want to take whatever steps necessary to be the best mother I can possibly be. In the words of Mother Theresa, "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

Photos by: Megan Ella Photography

If you know me at all, you know that becoming a grandmother last year added meaning to my life in countless ways, not to mention more joy than one heart can old.

Like most mothers and prospective grandmothers, I suppose, I had hoped a husband (to love, protect and provide) would be a part of my daughter's baby plans, but from the moment I heard the heartbeat of the child she carried, I knew grand-parenting would be a breathtaking experience for me.

And I was right, of course. Loving Audrey Emeline is like no love I've ever known. Whenever she's with me, any burdens I'm carrying are merely feathers in the wind. No, I can't shield her from storms (just like I couldn't shield my own child), but I can be a godly grandmother of FAITH, who prays for her every day, and offers a soft place to fall if she ever needs to come running.

♦    ♦    ♦

And that bring us to August 2014.

As of today, I have a great-paying job, live in a nice house and drive a car that I paid for. I don't know what tomorrow holds, of course, but wherever it leads, my FAITH will go with meand hopefully, friends and family, too. ☺

Someone recently suggested (for the umpteenth time) that I get married again. I admit that 12 years is a long time to make your own coffee and drive your own self, but I'm pretty sure that marrying again isn't something I want to do. However, for the sake of this blog (that just might never end) let's pretend that it is. We have the issue of where to look.

Oh, I've had dates and some would-be suitors, but for the most part, women my age aren't a hot commodity in the dating sceneand quite frankly, men my age aren't such a hot prize either. However, for the sake of this blog (that's becoming a novel as I type) let's pretend that none of that is true.

And let's also pretendsince we've now officially entered the land of make-believethat there is a castle filled with handsome kings who all want to marry me. We then have the issue of what I'm looking for. And therein, my friends, lies the real rub: I have no idea.

I mean, it varies from day to day, depending on my mood, my desires, or my immediate need or crisis. One day, it's a carpenter, the next day, it's a chef. One day a mechanic, the next day a masseur. The other night, after helplessly watching a butter knife go clanging down the kitchen sink, a pea trap expert sounded mighty good to me. (Are you getting my drift here?)

And of course, when twin sister and brother-in-law board Cloud Nine and head to faraway places, the only man I'm interested in is a financially sound one, with a penchant for travel and a big RV.

Perhaps I'm over-thinking thingsas I have a tendency to dobut the way I see it, until I can firmly nail down what I want in a man, I should continue making my own coffee and driving my own self. Maybe in another 12 years, I'll have figured it all out. ♦

Linking with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Being Filled to Fulfill

After almost a week of being cooped inside the house with a fever and sore throat, dining on sandwiches and chips just wasn't cutting it anymore. My body needed hot (if not terribly nourishing) food. A quick dash to Jack-in-the-Box could solve that problem, but, alas, the dash didn't happen. Dead battery. Unhappy, hungry me.

After a few text messages and phone calls, a new battery was installed. One turn of the ignition, and life began again.

As I backed down the driveway, I thought about my car without a battery. It looked great. It sat great. Nice tires. An engine under the hood. Plenty of gasoline. Plenty of oil. A beautiful piece of machinery, but totally useless for all intents and purposes.

Likewise, if Christians are to fulfill their purpose in lifeto be the hands, the feet and the mouthpiece of Godlooking good isn't enough. We have to have the Spirit of God under our hoods, filling us with power to go, and do, and speak. Without it, we are useless jars of clay, offering nothing of value to our sin-sick world.

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God."
Romans 8:14

I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mosaic Monday - FaceTime with the Grandchild

July 6, 2014

Thanks to my daughter's diligence, Audrey and I do FaceTime almost every day. Occasionally, I initiate the call, but since I don't know Miss Audrey's availability, Leslie usually calls me. I must say, it never gets old. Seeing Audrey's little face light up melts my heart and fills me with more joy than I can contain. Some days, we sing and some days we just "talk" and be silly, but every moment is a priceless memory made. I love her dearly, and I'm glad she loves me.

I'm linking to Mosaic Monday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Salute to Red, White and Blue

I don't know about you, but I love celebrating Independence Day. I think it's the perfect day for embracing all things American, like hotdogs, watermelon, fireworks and Old Glory

And speaking of Old Glory...

Many years ago, when I was young and trotting the globe, I had dinner one evening in a charming home decorated in red, white and blue. It was love at first sight for me, and I planned to follow suit if I ever had a place of my own.

Since then, I've had ten places of my own, but not one room has been decorated in red, white and blue. I'm not sure why, but maybe I'll make it happen one of these fine days. Here are a few images I found online to inspire me. If you're needing a room makeover anywhere, maybe they'll inspire you, too.

Don't you just love this kitchen? So fresh and bright. I can almost hear birds chirping outside the window.

Emily A. Clark
The house I visited had red tulips planted in distressed white pots scattered about the room, but I love this more masculine look, as well. These red leather chairs are sensational.

The pop of yellow and the striped fabrics in this room whisper "cozy" to me.

And who said red, white and blue couldn't be elegant? Wowza!

Decor Pad
Don't you think this understated bedroom with a burlap headboard would be a great place for some afternoon ZZZs? Me, too.

Better Homes and Gardens
Now, this is my kind of space. Not only the colors, but the fabrics, the shapes, the textures. Everything about it says come on in and sit a spell.

And that, my friends, concludes my salute to red, white and blue. I think I'll go hang some flags now. I hope your holiday is safe and filled with love.

♦  ♦  ♦