Washing of Feet

Last weekend, my mom asked me to come over and help do a few things for her and my Grandma.  One of those things was giving my Grandmother a bath.  She is 90 years old, blind, and very unstable on her feet.  That particular week, my grandmother’s helper had the previous day off and was unable to give her a bath, so I was more than happy to help.  I’ve only lived back home since October, and before that my amazing sister-in-law and cousin have always been there to help her when needed…so it was very nice to be able to help her finally.

I was humbled beyond belief as I washed her body and hair…being extra gentle as not to scratch her delicate, frail skin or scalp.  I know this is something that she had done for me as a baby and young girl for years, along with my mom of course, but it’s quite a different experience as an adult now bathing a grandparent.  After her bath was finished, it was time for lotion. I doused her with it from top to bottom, but what I didn’t expect was my reaction as I rubbed lotion on her feet.

I poured lotion on my hands, then started to gently massage it in, taking extra time with each one (because as one who loves to have her feet rubbed…I know it feels wonderful!).  Out of nowhere, I started crying.  Sobbing really.  My tears dripped all over her feet, but I simply rubbed them in along with the lotion…pretty sure she didn’t notice.  I couldn’t explain the tears, nor the overwhelming emotions of how special it was for me to do that for her.  I immediately thought of Jesus as he washed the feet of his disciples – showing and teaching them how much better it is to serve rather than be served.  As I continued, it felt as if my soul was being cleansed of a few things that were starting to cause some pretty bad stains. That alone brought me a joy I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I wept silently.  She couldn’t see me of course, and to my knowledge she never heard me, although I kept wiping my face with her dry washcloth and I think she was wondering what the heck I was doing.  I felt rather silly at one point, wondering what was wrong with me.  I couldn’t seem to stop the tears no matter how hard I tried.  (And no…it wasn’t ‘that time of month’.  Lucky for me those days are over!  LOL!)  In the end, she got an extra long foot massage just so I could calm down, but she didn’t complain.  I know my time with her on this earth is growing short, and I guess being able to perform that one act of love and kindness to her meant more to me than anything that day.  Time spent with my mom and dad, my brother and sister-in-law…those moments are so special to me being back home.  Although I’m still learning my way around town, and trying to make some new friends…I know one thing for sure – I am home, and exactly where God wants me.  For now.

Until next time,

Enjoy your next cup of tea or coffee, or latte, with someone you love and never take those moments for granted.  They are precious…and few.

 

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To The Place Where I Belong

Country roads…take me home, to the place where I belong.  West Virginia, mountain mama.  Country roads…take me home.

country roadMy dad taught me this old John Denver tune when I was a little girl.  We used to sing it together all the time.  He’d sing the first part, then I’d sing the second part, and we’d join in the end together – one of my most precious memories of my childhood.

I’ll be visiting my hometown in a few weeks – good ‘ole Southern Illinois.  Yep…it’s sultry, sticky, humid, and will probably be in the high 90’s most of the time we’re there.  Woohoo!  Bring it on!  My parents live in the country – not on a farm, but definitely a rural area and still on the same piece of land where I grew up.  It’s far from West Virginia,  but I like it.  Going home is always a nostalgic trip down memory lane for me – seeing old friends from school and family I haven’t seen in at least a year, sometimes multiple years.  Each time I return, it seems to be more of an emotional journey than before as I watch my parents enter their senior years now, struggling with various health issues.  They’ve also taken on the added responsibility of being full-time caregivers to my 89 year old grandmother that now lives with them.  I would joke and say it’s the ‘blind leading the blind’, but I shouldn’t…because my grandmother really IS blind and my mom isn’t far behind her.  That wouldn’t be right of me.  Hee Hee (but a little funny in sweet loving way, huh?)

I’m looking forward to my time with them though.  I miss them more now than I ever have before, and even though I know I’m where I belong right now, it’s still hard to be away.  So, on this visit, I’ll enjoy my time with family, helping where I can and making lots of time to sit by the pool at my brother’s house…enjoying a few glasses of vino and chatting with my amazing sister-in-law whom I adore.    I’ll get lots of hugs and kisses from my sweet little niece too – my favorite part!  Summers in my hometown are lazy and relaxing.  A time to reconnect with where I came from and help me focus on where I want to go.  It’s simply a time to relax and recharge…and hopefully I’ll get to see at least ONE gulleywasher or big thunderstorm!  (I SO miss the thunder…)

stormSpeaking of storms, I’ve just finished writing my second book entitled, Grace After the Storm, currently finishing up the first edit before it goes off to the publisher.  The character in this new book, Hannah, loses her parents and is forced to move back to her hometown and take care of her ailing grandmother.  Along the way, she encounters a few storms that will cause damage to her emotionally, and physically.  She’s forced to deal with a past love who broke her heart, but could also save her if she’ll let him.  Hannah learns that there is always a little grace after the storm, as long as you see it through.

I couldn’t wait to type the last word, and some days didn’t think I would ever finish.  I did though, and for that reason (and many others) I probably need this vacation more than any other.  I hope to spend a day driving around those country roads – remembering that it is still my home and always will be.  It’s the one place where I belong, even if I don’t belong anywhere else.  I look forward to family and friends, and surrounding myself with good food and fun with my kids.  And even though those country roads lead me back home, I can’t forget that they also brought me to the place where I belong now

Happy Summer!  Take a vacation, take a day off, take some time for YOU and your loved ones.  Whatever your summer looks like, I hope you enjoy it, and if you look back at where you came from, don’t look back too long.  It could trip you up, and then you might miss something wonderful waiting on the road ahead.

Until next time…grab a beverage, then go outside and sit on the porch during the next storm!  You never know what you might see.  🙂

The Story Behind the Picture

My grandfather, my mother’s dad, died in a motorcycle accident when I was one year old.  I never got to know him which makes me sad, so I rely on stories and pictures to help me learn about him.  The stories paint him as a loving father, grandfather, a hard-working man, a man who would move heaven and earth to make his wife happy, could fix anything he touched, a man of strong faith in God, and much more.  I hold on to those stories and know, based on who shared them, that were true because they knew him in real life.  They were his wife, his kids, his brothers and sisters.  They all told the same stories about who he was, and I’m thankful that I have more than just pictures to tell me.  They shared stories that reflected my grandpa’s true self, as seen from the eyes of those that loved him.

The old saying is, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘.  I think that’s a true adage, however, what words are being said?  Most of the time we see photos of people wImage result for a picture is worth a thousand words imageho are smiling and happy.   It’s rare that we see pictures of crying adults, or pictures of people yelling and screaming at each other unless it’s tied to a traumatic story or disaster on the news – those are a much different type of picture.  No, I’m talking about the ‘fluffy’ photos.  Family snapshots and photos from ‘good times’ with friends at parties.  Yes, babies and kids cry may be crying, but the adults are always the picture of loveliness – smiling, happy, not a care in the world.  But if all I had were pictures of my grandfather, and no real stories, I would always wonder who he was, or what was behind the man in the picture.  He always looked content in photos, but in the 1930-40’s, there weren’t many things you could do to enhance a photo.  And back then, people didn’t even smile for photos, making it even harder to get a sense of who they were or what they were like.

image

Today, we live in the age of the ‘Selfie’ (and yes, I admit I have taken a few), trying to capture that moment in time with some sense of reality. We have digitally enhanced photos, Photoshop, and many other ways to change the original image.  What we see isn’t necessarily a real or true account of who they are in reality, and that makes it hard to figure out who people are in real life.  This weekend, I stumbled across a photo via the internet that wasn’t sent to me, but it sent me a very pointed message all the same.  The photo?  A beautiful couple – a husband and his wife.  They were smiling, and seemed happy and in love.  If I had to guess, I’d say they are probably beloved by many in their community and by their families and children.  The photo was a glimpse into their life at that moment in time.  The photo said, ‘We’re happy!’ It said, ‘We have the perfect life because we’re together and we’re smiling.’ It said, ‘We’re in love!’.  All great things, right?  Of course!  I’m glad I saw the picture – it was quite moving, and made me smile.  I was genuinely happy that they were together and had each other.  It also made me wonder what reality was behind the photo?  What was their story? Did they stop smiling the minute the camera was down?  Were they fighting seconds before it was taken?  Do they live as happy as they look?  Wouldn’t it be nice though if our photos were a true image of our reality?  That’s why we take them right?  We want to tell the world that everything is okay even when the people in the picture, in not all but some cases, are hurting, sad, longing for more, or simply dissatisfied with the person they’ve become.

I have many photos of my family, my wedding, my kids being born, high school and college moments, my friends and my life since birth.  I love to pull them out and reminisce about the day it was taken – what was going on before and after the photo…the real stories.  Those stories, whether funny, sad, heartwarming, dramatic, or uplifting, are the most meaningful.  Not the picture.  The pictures generate emotions, and those emotions bring back memories.  After we lose someone we love, or we’re forced to say goodbye to someone we love for whatever reason, photos of that person can bring us both joy and pain.  It brings us closer to that person again as we remember moments of time being with that person, and then we remember the stories behind the pictures – stories that remind us who they were and what they meant to us.  Sometimes, they are our only connection to that person.

Next time you look at a photo of someone in your life, or was once part of your life – whether it breaks your heart, makes you smile, or gives you hope…remember that it’s just a picture.  It’s the untold story and the memory of that moment that tells us what we need to know and lives on in our hearts and minds forever.   Take your photos!  Have fun and smile for the camera!  I hope the images you are sharing with the world are a true picture of who you really are.  #storyinpictures #memories

Until next time…here is a #selfie from me to you.  🙂   Of course it’s about the coffee!

Thankful, Grateful and Blessed

Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving already? I can’t!  This year has flown by and it will be over before you know it.  I’ve always loved Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in general, but outside of the dinner and football, the Thanksgiving holiday itself is an afterthought for most people.  Not many people decorate for it, and I don’t know that I’ve seen a Thanksgiving decoration in the stores in years.

Growing up, my mom always set out these little old Pilgrims and Native American statuettes, apilgrim cornucopia, and some colorful fall leaves.  That was about it.  I tried that for a while, but by the time I took down the Halloween decorations, November was half over and it wasn’t worth the time or trouble…so instead I moved right onto Christmas!

Thanksgiving has always been a day filled with amazing food, long hours of cooking and baking in the kitchen with my mom and grandma, followed by chit-chat around the kitchen table and enjoying a slice of homemade chocolate, pumpkin, or lemon pie while my family laughed and played games.  Of course, it was hard to hear each other talk over the dull roar of snores coming from the men reclining in the living room and the football game blaring in the distance, but it was a fun day nonetheless and for the most part, good memories were created.

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My Birthday Blog

Today is my birthday!  It turns out I celebrate the SAME birthday as the incredible popular kid’s show…SESAME STREET!  You’ll have to Google that little fun fact and and do the math…I’m not giving it away that easy!  It was one of my favorites growing up and I have many fond memories of watching it with my brother and my mom.  Do you have a favorite character?  Mine has always been Grover, with Big Bird coming in a close second.  I like Grover for his auspicious grit and relentless drive to be everyone’s super hero, for his uncanny ability to make kids feel special and loved, his cute gravely voice and big pink nose, for his fun sense of humor, and of course for his beautiful blue fur – not too long, not too short.  groverSounds like the perfect man right?  Ha! 

I’m not sure what the Sesame Street crowd will be doing today, but I for one am starting my birthday out a little different that in past years.  First, I’m in my hometown of Illinois this weekend visiting my family…just me!  A mom’s getaway if you will.  So far, my morning has been filled with two of my favorite things – coffee and writing!  The rest of the day is unwritten as of yet, but I see a pedicure in my future and cooking with my mom to get ready for my Grandma’s birthday party tomorrow.  She will celebrate 89 years on Tuesday, and since I’m in town, we are going to celebrate her big day with a party!

This evening?  Well, that’s just for me and my wonderful girlfriends from high school.  We rarely get to see each other, and since three of us celebrate birthdays all within the 2nd week of November, we have planned an evening of fun, laughter, rehashing old memories, some good food, and hopefully a bottle of wine will be opened and shared too!

Birthdays are celebrated by some, but not by all of course.  I’m one that has always enjoyed my special day though.  It belongs ONLY to me (okay fine…and the thousands of other people who were born today), but it’s still MY day, unlike all the other sweet sixteenholidays that are shared with the masses and glamorized by commercial retailers.  My mom always made a big deal of my birthday and I guess she spoiled me a little by that, especially on my SWEET 16th!  She invited all my friends, decorated the garage, acquired a local band loved by many, and pulled off one of the BEST surprise parties I’ve ever had!  It was rather magical if I do say so myself and a night I’ll never forget. 

Well, that’s it for now – I have a fun day ahead!  Thanks spending a few minutes of my birthday with me today!  I hope your day is as special as you and I look forward to your next visit!

Freedom in Writing

When I was in high school, I would write poetry to express my feelings.  It was the easiest form to use back then and the only thing that seemed to pour out of me.  (That…and my Creative Writing teacher taught poetry and he was really cute!  I’m sure I learned something, right?)  I filled at least three books that I can remember, which I still have buried in the garage.  MoFlowerstly they were poems about love, death, life, my faith, and a few more about love.  As I go back now and read them, I can easily tell when I had just broken off a relationship with a boyfriend.  One minute I’m writing about how wonderful he is and how much he turns my whole world upside-down, then within the next few pages, I am reading about his early demise in life, or how much I hope he suffers without me.  They crack me up!

Several years ago, I was visiting my parents for the weekend and remember being internally conflicted about something.  So much, that I woke uFreedomp around 1am and wrote down my feelings in a 4-page essay entitled ‘Remote Control Life‘.  The words spilled out of me at a rate which I could barely keep up.  I’m not sure what the conflict was exactly, although I have a few guesses, but it was more about how I felt once I had finished writing.  FREE!

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Should I stay or Should I go?

I live in Washington State, and my parents, in-laws, and only sibling live in the Midwest.  It’s too expensive to travel with my husband and 4 kids to visit all the time, so usually I see my parents once every couple of years.  They don’t like to fly, and I would be scared to death if they tried to drive over here – fearing for the lives of not only other drivers, but theirs as well.  So…as we begin a new phase in our lives and my husband is about to retire from the Army, I am faced with the decision to stay in a city that I love, or to move closer to home and help my parents in their later years.  I have invested much of my time and energy in a job that I love, and I’m really good at it.  I’ve also become quite involved in my community as a volunteer event planner for several different non-profit organizations – my heart is officially torn.  Doubt

It’s like the old Clash song goes…”Should I stay or should I go now?”  Jobs come and go, but there is something to be said for stability.  Even more than that though, is happiness and fulfillment.  I miss my Grandma, my parents, and my brother and his family.  I’m an aunt for crying out loud!  I totally want to be the cool Aunt too!  I also miss being closer to some dear friends in my hometown.  I wouldn’t want to live there, but being a few hours away would be kind of nice and I could definitely visit more often.

My kids are pretty open to moving, and my husband says, “It’s up to you…”  Great!  NO PRESSURE THERE, RIGHT?  This is one of those times when I sure would like a burning bush.  Why is Moses the only one who gets the bush?  I don’t get it!  So, as I pray for God’s direction on what our family should do, I’m going to stay put and continue to enjoy my time here.

I’ll keep you posted as to what we all decide, but in the meantime…I welcome your advice!

Until next time, keep sharing the hope!

#moveorstay #undecided #torn