It’s all about love…

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This is a picture of my dad on his wedding day in Marco Island Florida last February 2013 -he was 77 years old. My dad and his bride LuWayne dated for about 16 years before they decided to tie the knot. Yes 16 years.

My dad and my mom divorced when I was thirteen -my brother and I lived with him. That was not common in those days and divorce itself was just becoming something you didn’t have to whisper about. My dad found himself raising two kids- one a teen and the other a pre-teen. Needless to say our house was quite crazy! I was full of myself and boy crazy at the same time. How does a dad deal with that? Anyway we wouldn’t have survived without my Nana- my dad’s mom. She is another story for another post.

My dad began dating which was super weird when you are a teen. I didn’t want to pay much attention to his dating and I was ridiculed by neighborhood kids when he brought a woman over for a cookout. She had a couple kids of her own that came along. I was mortified as I listened to the neighbor kids sing the Brady Bunch song to me. Anyway I never saw that woman again and my dad began dating a fellow IBMer named Jean. At some point my dad became serious with Jean and married her the summer before I went into tenth grade. Back then I didn’t think much of her- she was very strict and cramped my teen style. But later I realized what she took on by marrying my dad. She took on two teens and a man that is – how can I put it- unique. My dad has a very strong personality. So poor Jean had to be tough. They had there ups and downs but mostly ups. Sadly Jean developed cancer at age 51 and passed away. I was 30 by then. My dad was 58 years old.

So there was my dad alone and having to navigate the world again as a single man. He and Jean had planned a move to Marco Island , Florida. He put it on hold a year and sold their home in Potomac, md. and rented an apartment in the same complex where my Nana – who passed in 1987- had lived for nearly 30 years. I think that move to that apartment was a comfort thing for my dad.

My dad is not one to show sadness. So he always tried to remain upbeat. He was going down to Florida a lot as his new home was being built. I was surprised he kept that plan to move south. He was always a beach guy but I never saw him as a Florida guy. But it turns out I don’t know much!

My dad definitely had his pick of suitors -but I think he was looking for someone special. He dated a nice woman for a bit in Maryland but when he moved to Florida it fizzled out. On the other hand , Marco Island , seemed to be just the right place for my dad. There was a lot to do, it was beautiful there, and there were many retired folks there. My dad was semi-retired and he could work part-time right from his home that overlooked a lovely canal.

Soon after moving there, he had a clutch of new friends. I have to say I think that was brave of him to go where he knew only one person (an old school friend who was a bit older than my dad). That would be hard at age 60 but he knew what he wanted to do and it was a great choice. He was very social and went out a lot. He never really talks about love and anything too sentimental. But to me there was always an undertone of loneliness in those early days in Florida. I really hoped that he would find someone special.

I was still single when my dad was newly single. I had ended a long term relationship just before we lost my stepmother. I was building up my career and I was hoping to find the One somewhere along the way. In some ways my dad and I were on the same path looking for love. In 1997 I went to visit my dad in Florida- i was coming out of a breakup of a short relationship but it left me in a bad state. So running to warm,sunny Florida in September seemed a good idea. And I thought hanging with my single dad would be fun too. The funny thing is that now as I’m writing this I remembered that the person who dropped me at the airport is now my husband! That’s for another story as well!

The thing is when I got to Florida on that visit my dad had someone to introduce me to. I suppose he had spoken of her on the phone when we chatted but I am sure I was caught up in my life so I didn’t pay much attention. So I was introduced to a very pretty lady about my dad’s age. Her name was LuWayne. Right away I knew this person was special. She was warm, friendly, talkative, smart and just zany enough to get my dad. She was a music director at her church and played the organ on Sundays. My dad long ago broke his rule about dating only Catholics. That was a big deal for him. But a good thing because otherwise LuWayne may not have been in the picture. And I was very glad she was.

I could tell my dad really liked LuWayne -I could see he tried to be a better person when he was with her. She laughed at his jokes and she made him smile. My dad can be impatient and she dealt with that like a pro. She was independent and laid back. They were very different but good for eachother. LuWayne was and still is so positive. She is a great person to just sit and chat with she makes you feel cared for. She has three kids who I have not met to this day. All of them I feel I know we have chatted a lot about them.

My dad and LuWayne dated for 16 years. They had ups and downs and even a breakup that lasted a while. LuWayne decided to buy a home in Nashville,TN . Her son and his wife were in that area and I think she wanted to be nearer to them and their children. That fueled a break-up that I don’t have all the details about but I know I was quite sad that they weren’t together anymore. My dad was not the same person as he had been with LuWayne and I worried for him. Luwayne grounded my dad and without her he seemed lost. My dad didn’t express his feelings but you just knew he missed her.

Lo and behold they got back together after seeing eachother on a Saint Patricks Day. The luck of the Irish my dad might say. So began the reconnection. Luwayne began to live with my dad during the winter and shacking up was not something either really believed in. So talk began about getting married. I think my dad would have married her long ago even prior to that breakup but he never pushed it. He had found love again and was happy just being together. She told me that they just keep ending up together and that she knew he was unique (my word) but she loved him. And they are best friends. What more can you ask for? I know my husband just gets me…or what he doesn’t get he just accepts bc he loves me. We are best friends.

My dad and LuWayne got married in a small ceremony – just them and two friends – on the beach on Marco Island last February. They went on a short cruise for their honeymoon. I sent them two toasting glasses for a gift. They were thrilled and used them for their toast after the ceremony. In the picture I see two very happy people. I keep this picture on my fridge. I love seeing my dad so happy. I know it’s been a long road for him. He suffered some major losses. But the one thing I see is a man who never gave up on love. He always longed for it and never ran from the possibility. He found someone later in life and he never thought he wouldn’t. Or at least he never said it. And finally when the time was right for both of them, they got married. Just like Jon Katz said in his new book “Second Chance Dog” that love was not just about him and what he wanted but it was about what the other person needed and wanted too. I think my dad got that idea especially after he and LuWayne broke up and reunited. My dad never gave up on love and now at 78 he is as happy as I have ever seen him. That is a love story.

Thanks for reading…

What a world….

What a world we live in. Most days I feel we live in a wonderful world and am thankful God has given me the chance to experience it. But on days when tragedy strikes I wonder why I think this world is so wonderful – its all just really scary.

The terrible explosions that happened April 15 in Boston on the day of the marathon rocked all of us to the core. Some of us knew people running in the race or knew people who were there to watch. We frantically texted them to make sure they were all right. We wondered if other bombs would go off there or even nearer to us. We wonder why these tragic events happened. We became afraid of what could happen next.

When some person or group takes out whatever their anger or hatred they have on innocent human beings it robs everyone of their joy and peace- at least for a time. Children wonder if a bomb will go off at their school or during soccer practice. Adults wonder if they should attend that major league baseball game for fear something might happen. Our lives are robbed of joy….and that makes me so angry. I pray and cry for the victims and those who died in the wake of those explosions, but I also cry for all of us because after each one of these tragedies we are changed forever in some way.

In a world that is out of control – we as humans look for some way to be in control. The harder we try the harder it seems to be to gain the control. When terrible things happen it makes us realize how unkind the world can be – and how not in control we really are. We look for a reason for why these terrible things happen. All the reasons n the world will not make sense of any of these tragedies. There will always be something out there trying to steal our joy- and fill us with fear.

So what to do? As Christians we know we are living in a temporary home. We know we will experience hard times and joys. The only thing we can do when darkness strikes is to reach for the light of our loving God. .                 2 Corinthians 4:18- So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. We may question God – wondering why these things happen and we may just never know- but keep reaching your hand up because God is there to comfort you in the darkness. Isaiah 49:13 – Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. (NIV). God will take your hand and help to heal your heart.

We cannot let the bad things of this world steal our joy and make us fear. If we let this happen we are shrinking our lives and not living the life God wants us to live. We have no way of controlling what is around that next bend. But we do know that God is with us every step of the way. If we lean on him he will lift us from our fears. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV).

I am no stranger to fear and what giving in to that fear can rob you of. I lean on God every day to walk me through fear. In times like this I am more determined than ever to not let the craziness of this world rob me of more of my life. I will mourn with the country and pray for these things to stop happening but I will not allow it to rob me of my joy of life or make me sick with fear. I will believe what my God has told me and trust those words. Otherwise, I am chasing control in a world where gaining control is impossible.— Thank you for reading…

  •  Deuteronomy 31:8 – The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (NIV).
  • Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (NIV)
  • Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Telling your story

We all have a story or two to tell. There are incredibly interesting things about each one of us and the lives we lead.  I love chatting with people i meet from day to day because usually if you get them talking they have some interesting story to tell.

Sometimes I am shocked that people take interest in our little farm and then I remember how enamored with farms I had been before I had one. Lets face it, I am still enamored with farms –  I love to see silos in the distance.  I love to watch those large tractors drive up and down the fields.  I love to see horses, sheep and cows grazing…and I love to hear farm stories told by anyone who has one to tell! Tell me about your goats getting out, how many eggs you get a day, your compost pile! I am hooked!

I am a mish mash of stories. Some changed my life.  There are some stories I tell very easily and others I hold to myself.  We are all probably like that to a degree. Sometimes I wonder why I might be holding a story in. Am I embarrassed – or is it too private (as some are), am I avoiding something, do I worry what other people might think?

One of the stories I don’t tell often is my Christian testimony.  For those who are reading this and don’t know what a Christian testimony is :”A testimony is a compilation of words that tells others about your faith.”   I dont tell mine very often because I don’t feel like it is that interesting really- it does not have the big bang – it is more of a discovery on a slow moving steam.   And frankly I know I don’t share it often because I worry I might offend the audience.

I had that experience recently  I wasn’t invited nor was I planning to share my entire testimony with a person I was speaking with. But I knew during the conversation I was having that expressing a part of my testimony might be important.  I also knew it might offend the person if I didn’t say the right thing. I have to tell you I hemmed and hawed through the small part I told.  I was frustrated with myself!

Why do I do that?  Why is it so awkward to me to express that Jesus Christ changed my life?  That once i came to know Him my heart was changed- that I was changed?  I want to be so eloquent with my words and express the changes that have occurred in my life after I decided to give my life to Jesus Christ. Instead, I  don’t feel like I made much sense. But today a good friend told me that it is better when we don’t sound so perfect in our words..it makes it all less intimidating.  That made me feel better- because I was not perfect!  Maybe in some way God spoke through me -not in my words but in my expression-  I am not sure but I hope so.

I thought later that my words might have opened a crack in the armor  This person felt that people of faith often were hypocrites.  Maybe by explaining that I was a hypocrite sometimes, a sinner a lot(a forgiven sinner!), and completely underserving of God’s redemption maybe that person would understand that those people they thought should be so infallible because they called themselves christians…were just human.  That being a Christian does not mean we are perfect…  We will never reach that bar if that is what people are looking for when they see a Christian.  To me it means being changed in heart, trying to please and serve God each day with what I say and do- and when I fail that I ask God to forgive me and that my heart means it.

My friend had also been badly hurt by a person who said they were Christian. I won’t deny there are some unkind, and just bad people who might label themselves as Christians. I know when someone is really harmed by a person who claims to be a Christian this can push the hurt person away from God – as it did with my friend.  My only answer to that is – that was a person  – not God. Please don’t turn your back on God because of what a human does to you. Please trust that God did not lead that person to hurt you. God is love – not hate.

Can I help get a person, who has been badly hurt by another person who claimed to be a Christian, to stop blaming God and turn to Jesus?   I have no idea – but the only way I can try at all is by telling my story – no matter how muddled I get in the telling.

So please tell your story – not only the Christian one – tell any story because they matter and you matter and you never know how they will effect someone.  In my case, I hope I made some difference.  I think facing life is much easier knowing I have a creator who loves me and a wonderful place to go after I leave this temporary world.

Thanks for reading—-

I knew I had pickling spice–one of those little God moments

I was trying to make corned beef for St Pattys Day- I was doing it the day before because we had a church activity Sunday night the actual St Patty’s Day.

I realized that my corned beef did not come with a pickling spice packet. I normally have pickling spice in my spice cupboard. I did not recall using it all up but I could not find it.  I took a bunch of items out and there was no pickling spice! So frustrating!  I knew pickling spice had cloves in it- at least I thought it did- so I put cloves on my meat. Then I decided to consult the internet on how to make my own pickling spice.  So I looked on the net and put together a list of spices I thought I had and decided to use those to make my own version of the spice!

I walked back to the kitchen and opened up the cupboard and was reaching my hand in- I had not touched anything. All of a sudden something fell in the back of the cupboard! I had a weird feeling…. I reached back and there were my pickling spices!  I had looked all around in there but not well enough! Coincidence….hmmmm maybe to some… but that was a God moment for me! However simple, I know He and his angels had a hand in helping me find that spice! All I could do was smile and whisper thanks.  It is nice to know we are being watched over….all the time….

The corned beef was pretty good I might add!

Thanks for reading!