No Regrets, Bella Donna!

This is a collection of thoughts by my friend, a woman-of-a-certain-age, as she thinks about who she is now with all the years behind {with lots of paraphrasing}. And while we “somewhere-in-the-middle” types can be prone to regret, too easily looking at our failures rather than our victories and be very critical on ourselves, a godly woman’s life is to be revered. Over the course of time, we have done a lot of good in the world and it takes the wisdom of years before we seem to be able to actually say that! And be gentle with our own history.
 ***
My friend, Donna, a wife, a mom, and a Nonna, has had good times and hard, laughter and joy and deep sorrow. I collected some of her own thoughts (things she actually has a hard time saying about herself) and added my cheering-her-on words to affirm who she has become, thankful that I can feel the warmth of her life’s light from a thousand miles away.
***
Real woman, real thoughts. To my daughters and sisters in the faith – go ahead and write your story. Write the future the way you want it to play out. Write who you want to be by the time you’re Donna’s and my age (you know God has already placed dreams in your heart – say them out loud).  Declare His truth about you over yourself even if no one else does! It’s ok to break into a happy smile when you realize all the good things your Father in heaven believes about you!  Start now. Just think how awesome it’ll be by the time you get to this season! :) 
By the way, older woman in the church to the younger women in your life: cheer them on!
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come…” Hab. 2.3-4 NKJV
For Donna…who knows deep down ::
I am fearless. {perfectly love-full}
I pray better now. My first instinct is to pray over every situation.  {He hears}
I follow my heart more than I once did. I’ve learned to trust myself and not just accept what others tell me is best. {down with fear of man}
I believe in myself. {I in Him, Him in me}
I run.  I have always loved to run. {run to win}
I walk. I am not a couch potato. {keep in step with the Holy Spirit}
I’m a writer.  I faithfully jot my thoughts and dreams in my diaries, as soon as something wonderful strikes my fancy. {“This will be written for a generation to come…that people…may praise the LORD”}
I have learned to be my own best friend, instead of my own worst enemy. {I spent years being an incredible friend to others}
I am a loving wife.  It took me awhile to get that right, but as soon as I knew to do better, I did. {my husband’s heart can trust me fully now}
I trust my own heart.  Led by the Holy Spirit, I can easily discern the best things. {He guides, He teaches, I just know what to do}
I do art and crafts and embrace my colorful, winsome creativity. {oh so child-like, which very much pleases the Father}
I finish projects, not so they’re perfect, but for the joy and satisfaction. {and then I rest}
I am sure to surround myself with good counselors and friends to confide. {isolation is no bueno}
I have kept relationships with people across many miles and through many years, thankful for people who have crossed my path. {a rich tapestry}
My husband’s family is a treasure and I am honored to be a daughter to them, to have joined them by marriage. They are as close to me as my family by blood. {heritage by covenant} 
I am committed to being true to myself and to being the woman God created me to be. {in His image}
People are so interesting to me, I welcome their gifts and their stories and love to nurture their dreams and encourage them on their journey. I receive who they are so I never even have to worry how they feel about me. We develop mutual respect and admiration! {you are admired and beloved}
I am blessed to have God’s favor and approval on my life, on my husband and children and on the children’s children. {I crown my family with blessing}
I am so blessed…Any more would just be icing on the cake.  And hot cake is fine without the icing. {contentment}
Speaking of children… I would enjoy mine in every stage more, if I had it to do over.  I would guard against distractions.  I would talk right to them and listen to them more.  And I’d say ‘yes’ more!  And yell way less. But with the wisdom of age? I am a fantastic, loving, nurturing mom. And as a grandmother? Off the charts amazing! {a woman to be praised}
I dance.
I enjoy life.
I laugh more.
I play more and I work more.
I am tempted to look back with regret, but there is so much future ahead!
I have a mission! I want to infuse the generation with so much love they cannot fear, with confidence in who God created them to be. I want to tell them the stories of the faithfulness of God in our lives through all their years. I want to enCOURAGE my daughters and my grandchildren, pour my very faith and courage in to their lives! Where I am set free, my children will be set free! Woo-hoo! This shall be their heritage and their portion, all I receive from the LORD will be theirs, free for the enjoying! :)
I am an obedient daughter of the King of Kings. I KNOW His voice. I hear Him loud and clear.
 Wish I could have known to love who God created me to be earlier, to trust myself.   Wish I hadn’t been afraid to see myself through my Father’s eyes. But I know now and my days are blessed by His relentless love and pursuit.
I am me. I love fiercely and get my approval from God!
I LOVE the Lord.
I am going to write books about it – all He showers on me freely!
Because did I mention? It isn’t my day job {yet}, but it is my life’s call – I am a writer!
YES, you are, Donna-Bella! No regrets!
donnabellawhimsical
The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises! Proverbs 31.30-31 Msg.
So much ahead. It is never too late to be the women God created us to be. Thank goodness!

Thought-Collage Thursday // Through the Open Window

An open window is a two-way relationship.

open window

Saw it on Pinterest. {Source}

I am quite aware of the sounds that find their way in to my house through my open doors and windows. In fact, truth be told, I can get a little annoyed that I am not living on a remote piece of land, unbothered by auditory clutter. But I just sometimes forget that some of me drifts out, too, to passersby.

“If your neighbor has wind chimes, you have wind chimes.” On my cousin’s FB timeline

These perfect, wide-open-window days and nights I hear things like:

The whistler. He lives across and down, a retired man, a gardener. His yard might be considered over-planted and a little too fussy with its’ stone deer and owls and whirligigs, but he provides us all with a dazzlingly array of flowers in shocking oranges and hot pinks only broken up by the perfectly coiffed green grass.  His yard is tiny compared to ours, but he walks it, he tends it, he improves it and enjoys it. And he whistles, non-stop. He whistles from sun up to sun down. You are never unaware of his time outdoors, because. Whistling.

The doggies. I guess because I don’t have one now, I am more aware of the neighbor’s dogs. One comes outside and announces his presence. Down a few houses, another answers that he, too, is outside. Across the way a couple of pups excitedly get in on the conversation. Soon, from many directions, the dogs, in almost a chorus, yelp and bark and woof away for just a little while, catching up on the events of the day. Then, just as quickly as it started, it dies down. But they’ll gab over fences again soon, several times a day, without fail.

The birds are just delightful. I have a yard the birds love. At first light this morning, I pulled the curtains open to watch some blackbirds and robins searching for seeds in the cool morning grass. Some walk, some hop (**boing-boing-boing**).

A couple of stealthy squirrels were ambling down the neighbor’s roof-line, trying to wage a secret attack and eat whatever the birds had found first, but when they tried to shimmy down branches on a very young, supple tree, they fell 3 feet to the ground, ker-plunk! They were found out. The birds chirped some “I-don’t-think-so’s” their direction and went back to their search. Said squirrels scampered away.

I see the bunny, “Peter-Cottontale,” I call him. He first appeared the evening Sandy died, mourning with us. He munches on grass and co-exists with us. Every evening, as the sun is setting, I know he’ll be right there, just outside my window saying, “Yes, I miss Sandy, too.”

Through the open window, I hear the early birdsong and the all-day bird chatter. I hear a fly try to get through the screen, buzzzz-smack. Foiled. I hear the car horns toot, girls driving by a popular boy’s house across the street. Sirens in the offing. Conversations between neighbors are carried on the breeze. Children are playing on the sidewalks, lots of laughter, an occasional crying bout. Every morning a young dad and his two girls bicycle past, always talking excitedly, having genuine conversations. Then they come back on their way home, planning their day, enjoying each other. The mailman, heavy-footed stomping up, then down the stairs, talks loudly on his cellphone on my front porch. And passing cars with their windows rolled down “share” their music.

And what drifts out? I hope goodwill. I hope they aren’t annoyed that I sing all. the. time. I hope if they hear the song, they start singing, too. And I hope they don’t think badly of me for setting off the fire alarm several days in a row.  I do hope they enjoy the wonderful smells coming from my kitchen. An open window is a two-way relationship. It’s good to remember this.

breeze open window

Is it sacrilegious to question this?

You know how everyone always says, “When God closes a door He opens a window?” It’s usually to try to placate us when something hasn’t worked out like we thought it would or when times are hard. But I’m not a fan of it. I think God knows I have a bad knee and climbing through a window would be risky. Plus, He doesn’t seem to be the type running around closing doors and locking them on people. He said Come, knock, the door will be opened to you. Not Ha-gotcha! Go find a little window to jump through! I mean, I might do that. But not God. Pretty sure.

I’ll just try the back door, thank-you very much. Or maybe just remember to knock and wait for Him to open it.

I did climb through a window once, though.

I did. I climbed out a window to go see a boy. I was 16 and *gloriously stupid.* I told my sister to leave the window cracked. I’d know my parents had discovered my absence if it was closed when I returned and I’d have to come in the front door and it wouldn’t be pretty. So, I went. I saw him and it was uneventful and certainly not worth the risk.

I came back and the window was closed tight. Closed! Dread, panic, doom, gloom…I felt nauseated, a rush of blood to my head, the tingle of hyperventilating stinging my face in chaotic patterns (having just run a mile home in the dark; see “*gloriously stupid*” above), scared-stiff! I pondered my options. Heart pounding, I tapped very lightly on the window, once, then twice, again…finally, my little sister got up, groggily, and opened the window. “Do mom and dad know I left?” I asked anxiously.

“No,” she whispered, “I just got cold.”

O-m-gee!!! I couldn’t be mad because she was keeping my secret, but geez! Even now, at fifty-something, I hope my dad doesn’t see this blog post!

A scripture about an open window, but not the one you’re thinking:

“We met on Sunday to worship and celebrate the Master’s Supper. Paul addressed the congregation. Our plan was to leave first thing in the morning, but Paul talked on, way past midnight. We were meeting in a well-lighted upper room. A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window. As Paul went on and on, Eutychus fell sound asleep and toppled out the third-story window. When they picked him up, he was dead.” – Acts 20.7-9

I know you were expecting the tithing scripture from Malachi 3 about not robbing God and then He will open the windows of heaven. But I thought this story from Acts was fun and different. Ends well, btw. Go. Read!

Open your windows! I suggest:

Let in the sweet spring air and the bright, lingering light. Hear the neighbor’s mowers and dogs and children. Speak a blessing out those same windows, let what drifts through your windows out to the world be good and godly, life-giving and love-filled. Think of the possibilities!

open window chalk

{source}

Thought-Collage Thursday // He makes all things new

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”  – Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Seeds.

How do they know? How can they be sure when I take them, tiny, dried and shriveled, torn from small packages and pushed into wet soil in little cups, into cold darkness – how do they know, I wonder, what to do?

seedlings in egg-carton

Do they feel dead, useless, abandoned, lifeless, forgotten, put aside, finished, afraid, or misplaced? How does a seed buried come back from that, literally come alive where it cannot yet be seen and fully break free – emerging gloriously spring-green from its dark burial place?

I have a counter full of seedlings springing up daily now, some perennials, pumpkins and squashes and decorative grasses, herbs and flowers to attract butterflies. The joy of watching them appear surprises me every time. I always live in fear they will not do it. I always wonder if I over-moistened the soil, or under-watered. Did I plant too deep? Was it a bad batch of seeds? Will these things really grow? And then – VOILA! They arrive.

I love it especially when I spy the tiniest green spec in a soil-filled egg carton section in the morning and by evening see this brand-new seedling has risen fully up to face the sun’s warmth through the kitchen window. How tenacious, how brave and resolute.

All of creation tells us the Story, THE Story. Jesus in a tomb, dark and cold. On the third day, He awakens, sits up pushing aside His shroud and somehow that stone is rolled away and He emerges victoriously: Life. New Life! All things are made new and nothing will ever be the same. How tenacious the Love of God, how resolute and steadfast.

What if?

being planted

{source}

What if you aren’t being buried, you’re being planted?

I saw this image on a Pinterest post {click here} and loved the hopefulness of it. What if...I mean what if we considered things differently, saw them from a different viewpoint? I am the worst at this! True confessions. But, really, what if...?

What if you weren’t ruthlessly expelled as much as thrown clear to keep you safe from harm’s way?

What if you weren’t unmercifully uprooted, but are being transplanted to a better location, a healthier place for thriving, a more spacious boundary line?

What if the delay, the seemingly endless wait wasn’t punishment or a sign of God’s displeasure, but part of His plan to bless you, set you up for amazing grace and favor?

What if the place you work, the classes you take, the house you live in, the people you know, the circumstances you find yourself in are part of God’s grand scheme to bless your community, to save a life, and to display His glory on the earth?

What if you don’t like what you have but what you want would hurt you?

What if the sun comes out and shines on the cold, dark soil of your current surroundings and the warmth and the rain and nutrient-rich burial ends up giving you nourishment and health you thought you’d never see again? It could happen.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

all things new

{source}

There is this brand new baby girl.

Just got back from a baby-birthing in Nebraska. I cry every time I get to see a baby born.  Oh it is hard work. The things a woman goes through from look-at-me-easily-breathing-through-contractions to I’ll-never-make-it-through-this to *Ahhhhh*-I’ll-do-this-again…Ha! Well, it is truly, truly miraculous!

So she came to this beautiful familia, her mommy and daddy and a big sister and big brother awaiting her arrival with great joy and anticipation. So much preparation, anxiousness and planning. And then the time comes – the actual time of arrival and this mystical, other-worldly occurrence.   Bebe is there in her hiding place, under the shadow, waiting.

And we wait. And we wait with patience and then patience wanes. And we wait with holy reverence and then we wait praying God will hurry things up. Please God, now, we are so tired…Then He does, and we are not certain we really wanted that prayer answered (yes, we are funny sometimes, aren’t we?)…Then…

At this intense moment of deep anguish, this rising tsunami-wave of hard-labor, this center-of-the-universe, roaring pain, from being swept helplessly away in the waves of birthing (only minutes ago having so powerfully breathed through each contraction, controlled and steady), from experiencing what seems like a certain death to a Let-there-be-light explosion of birthing to Life. LIFE! Again. Brand new life…From darkness to light. Weak yet strong. Poured out, yet able. It is finished.

And the mama, heaven and earth having just passed through her, trembles as she looks into the bebe’s sweet, small face. She knows the baby girl, and the baby girl knows her. And it is all worth it.

I won’t even attempt to wonder what birth feels like for the bebe before she emerges from the hidden place where the very hands of God have been knitting her together there in the secret place to being catapulted into bright light living?! That is a story for another day. But I can’t wait to tell it!

sayble 1

I get to be a doula sometimes {doula is an ancient Greek word that means “woman who serves”} and I am so honored and blown away each time. See this pretty baby? She makes me feel both young and old. The whole birthing experience takes me back and I remember again, the beauty of my own 5…but I feel the age I am at the end of the labor and delivery {Sayble @90 minutes old, honorary Nonna @much older and feeling it}.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  –Revelation 21.5-7 ESV

Welcome to the world, Sayble-J

sable 2

Welcome to the world, fresh and pretty girl, all brand new.

Thought Collage Thursday // Therapeutic Things

eleanor brownn quote

That’s my mom in the picture, enjoying her back yard! :)

Oh, it’s that time again!

That’s right, friends and familia, far and wide. This Thursday’s child is wild about Thursdays and my brain is inevitably running-over with an assorted array of somewhat disconnected thoughts and observations. Although I must tell you, I love finding the common theme after I have blurted it all out. That is always when the finished title emerges. Today? Therapeutic things, because you can and should attend to yourself, spirit, soul and body. Stay strong and healthy – it will bless everyone you love!

Enjoy spring.

I mean – can anyone really comprehend what it is like to have to live in a state that is so sunny-bright on these 70-some degree days in the spring with almost-zero humidity? Must I bear this cross alone? …Just kidding around with you, and maybe gloating a little.

The rainy days just past were purely lovely (more to come, I hear). They did what only spring rains can do. But the warm sun that follows, releasing the lilac’s deepest perfume – well, ’tis a glimpse of heaven, I am certain.

common lilac

NOTE:: If you do not own a lilac bush, go (immediately) make friends with some one who does and ask them if you might just stuff your face into the fully-florrid blooms in the heat of one of these spring-afternoons for just a few minutes. Therapeutic!

I wish I could dance.

I can’t. I can. not. Really. Everybody tells me it is possible, that even I could learn, but it isn’t. I was raised that dancing was a sin. My parents became Christ-followers through a “holiness” group that put the kibosh on most anything fun as being a “worldly amusement.” They pretty much lived by the mindset I am in the world, but I will not be amused by it.

Now my mom did say, many times as I was growing up, “Well, they tell me dancing is a sin. but if it weren’t, I’d get you ballet and tap lessons.” Haha. The obvious dilemma being that there was no differentiation, in the holiness standard, between dancing for joy, for art, for the beauty of movement and that shady stuff happening at dimly-lit parties with men putting their arms around other men’s wives after a few martinis, lusting and smoking cigarettes. No, just to be careful – rule out ALL dancing.

Never mind that the Psalmist, a man after God’s own heart, danced in the Bible! He also took his clothes off to do it. So that story never got told with flannel graph in Sunday School!

Somewhere along the way my parents figured out that dancing, that joyous release and movement celebrating being alive, and even the slow dance between married lovers, isn’t a chute straight to hell. They dance now! I even have video and photos of it, which makes me happy!

But it’s too late for me.

My feet are nailed by the heavy stakes of holiness-past to the ground. I’ve got rhythm. I just can’t seem to use it. I dream of it, though. I have dreams where I can run and twirl and leap and dance and practically fly. So, I can’t dance for now, but in heaven, I’m thinking I’ll be able to and wow, loving the thought!

HOWEVER – if you CAN dance, you should. You MUST! Therapeutic and free!

This really works.

Want to feel accomplished? Want your mind to be cleared and your life ordered in a way that makes sense? Grab your garden gloves (buy a pair at the dollar store), and a grocery bag. Head out to your garden squares or borders, the places where last week’s rains made the weeds feel all haughty and strong. Set your phone timer for 5 minutes. Grab hold of the obvious weeds at the base, the ones emerging in your borders and along fence lines. Pull. Tap lightly to return the soil to which they were clinging to its’ rightful place and fill your bag. In 5 sweat-free minutes, you’ll have stuffed that bag with unwanted, noxious weeds and given yourself a gift to enjoy later.

You can do this in the morning when you first arise, the cool of the day (God is always hanging around gardens, I have found). You can do it when you’re on the phone, or while the coffee brews. It works when you’re heading out or just getting back home, a 5-minute weed-pull here, another 5 minutes there.

dragonfly

Today it’s a chore, sure. But next week,  when you look at that small area, the ones where the weeds threatened to overtake your yard and garden (or where the grass hopped happily in to your garden beds), you’ll smile and reap the rewards of the time you tended your space. 5 minutes a day or a few 5-minute grocery-bag stuffings throughout the week: you’ll stretch and move and breathe and tend and have accomplished big things in short spurts. Good for the brain and body, satisfying for the soul.

“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.” Genesis 2.15

WARNING: Unused winter muscles will feel it and hurt, but in a good way!

Why you should sing.

Singing is amazing. This articles says singing (1) boosts cardiovascular health, (2) stimulates the brain, (3) reduces stress, (4) naturally heals and (5) builds confidence. But it’s also just fun.

You also need no special equipment to do it. And if you want to sing and be courageous, too, join a karaoke site. There are thousands of songs you can sing with just your smart phone and ear buds and it’ll be simply for your fun and enjoyment. And while I suspect it may have been considered “worldly amusement” by some for all of the “secular” songs there, I think it’s fun for the heart and soul. And they even have worship songs and church music if that’ll make it better for you. ;)

life is a song

{source}

You have to be brave and silly to sing on a karaoke site, but I’m doing it and it’s making me breathe deeper, which I need. I just posted “Harper Valley PTA” on a karaoke site this week and it made me laugh so much at myself. I loved that song as a kid, even though, as you might imagine, people who don’t dance also don’t like these types of drinking-adultry-miniskirt-type songs. :) But I did it. I just sang it anyway.

Len Sweet’s Bible Credo.

reading your bible

This poetic post about the Word of God, the scriptures, our Bibles – just made me want to go grab mine right away and get started on digging out the treasures, trying to comprehend the mysteries and just knowing the author of Love better, all over again.  Too much of my life has been spent shooting {or dodging} “scriptural truth bullets,” reading to try to figure out the “rules” or staying on the doggone one-year reading schedule** to earn divine points (true confessions). Sometimes this magnificent treasure has felt burdensome or life-killing. I do not want to pass that on to my grandbebes. I want them to experience the Logos and the Word made Flesh the way Len Sweet has so poetically  shared here.

“I believe you can’t go through the Scriptures without the Scriptures going through you… changing the drumbeat of your life as you dance to a new rhythm….I believe reading the Bible is not a disciple’s homework but a disciple’s holy play.”  ~Leonard Sweet

Did he say something about dancing??? :)

Read it. You’ll find yourself looking for the first available free moment to crack it open, to devour its pages and receive the words of life again! And again!

**PS I am not against reading plans…I have just botched them so badly I end up hurrying through and miss the whole {beautiful, “holy play” } point!

Call your mom.

Seriously. If your mom lives nearby, VISIT her. If she is far away, plan your next trip and call regularly. NO ONE has loved you longer! Except the Creator. But He chose her for you!

My mamala:

mamala collage

Let’s throw a parade!

As kids, parades were so easy, nothing but excitement, sound, color, horses (and shovels), Shriners in costume jewelry and little cars doing circles and patterns, with princesses on floats and marching bands. When you’re a kid, you don’t have to worry about where you’ll park and how you’ll fight the crowds or worry about who will clean up the paper mess afterwards.

But I liked this (from Pinterest, via Etsy):

kindness confetti

Let’s throw a parade! Let the kindness fly and the fun begin. First in our homes, with the people we love the most and then every where we go each day (school, work, stores, church) and give everybody the best parking spot and the curb-front seats to just being nice, in word and deed. We can make everyday a celebration-worthy holiday for some one, I am convinced!

I promise you, you’ll have the chance TODAY to be kind, or not. The confetti is in your hands! {No clean-up…now that IS therapeutic!}

Happy and Blessed Thursday, friends and family.

Take care of yourself and “Hey!” as they used to say on Hill Street Blues (which coincidentally aired on NBC’s Must-see-TV Thursday night line-up, “Let’s be careful out there!”

Turn around and you’re 2…

“Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a [grown boy] going out of my door.” -Harry Belafonte, 1957

The grand-boys

Only four of my 10 grandbebes are of the male persuasion. Hunter, who is 10, is keeping score and wants everybody to work diligently on even-ing the tally a bit.

the four grand-boys

Gavin is 12, holding Oliver who was about 4 weeks here. Hunter is 10 and Kai, 2, did not want to be in a picture!

Kai is 2 – this is mostly about him…

Kai on a walk

Malachai spent the night last week when his parents were doing a concert in the Springs. He is two, in all its’ glory. He has shot up like a spring weed ready to take over the world. He has opinions and understands every single thing I say, even if I cannot quite return the favor. If a request I have made vexes him, he need only cover his eyes with his hands and slump his shoulders for Nonna to take it back {{No, no, it’s ok – you don’t have to put the toys away, Kai-Kai}}. If he’d like one more piece of candy (after too many, already), tilting his head a bit while drawing me into the liquid blue pool of his gorgeous eyes and jabbering away (saying something quite funny, which I know because he then laughs uproariously) is all it takes. Ok, one more…

Alright, I must interject here: he is soooooooo smart! Malakai randomly pointed to the Excel icon on my Mac a few weeks ago and said, “Oh, Nonna – X!” I was like, “Kai-how did you know that???” Whereupon, he jabbered a long paragraph of explanation in his own Pentecostal-toddler language before clearly and assuredly saying, “I know that!”

Then the other night Dave was wearing a Broncos shirt and the font was kind of scrolly-semi-cursive. Kai said, “Oh, Poppa: B-O-O,” pointing to the letters that were obvious. Can you believe that? He is TWO…and pretty much extraordinary! IMHO.  ;)

Kai and his toys

Life is a vapor, people. James 4* was not kidding!

It is here and then, like a breeze just lifting a dry leaf and blowing it across the lines on the front walk, time is blown quietly way on down the road, section by section and everything has changed. And you wonder – how did we get here, already? You don’t notice it much day by day. But my little leaves, my darling grandbebes, are swirling and growing and each time I turn around, my breath catches and I wish, with eyes closed tight and fists clenched, I wish I could just stop time for a little while. Oh to love more, hug my bebes, kiss-kiss sweet cheeks and just soak in everything each one is right now, today.

But time marches on and there is nothing to stop it.

Gav & Hunter devices

Gavin will be twelve soon. He was only 3 when I started writing here on the blog. So it is here I have wept and laughed and tried to put words to the depth of my love, the increased capacity to feel and rejoice that grandchildren have brought me.

“Being a mom was the most wonderful thing.  Being a Nonna, I am completely undone.” ~From a post I did about Gavin, Hunter and Guini in 2007 SEE MORE HERE

And every now and again Kai says or does something and I remember Gavin or Hunter doing the exact same and it nearly knocks the wind from me to realize how fast that happened.

Gavin was building wooden block towers with Poppa just so very recently, wasn’t he? He was two, like, minutes ago…But now he texts me and we play games with our iPhones (he teaches me little tricks and secrets for using it). He seeks me out in crowds to give me very warm hugs and never leaves without kissing me good-bye, so thoughtful and grown-up. He was 2. Then a *snap of the fingers…Now he is almost 12.

Kai is 2 and I dare not look away, because he is also, I know now from experience, almost 10, nearly 12.

Gav & Hunter

Where are you going my little one, little one…

Kai woke up at exactly 5:55 a.m. the morning he was here. Even though his mommy told me that when he does that you can tell him he has to wait until the sun is up high in the sky to get up, I didn’t want him to feel unheard or uncared for being in a different place. I went to him and picked him up with such great affection I thought my heart would burst. “I’m here, Malakai, Nonna is here.” Dragging his blankie along he reached for me, then wrapped himself around me securely. In the quiet I hesitated, memorizing this fleeting moment, this tiny sliver of space and time in which you know that you know you are fully loved and fulfilling your purpose exactly perfectly. He relaxed, then, and he felt the  features of my face with his little hand in the early morning dark, “Nonna?” he asked, just to make sure.

Oh yes, I am, I thought. I’m your Nonna, baby boy. Let me hold you, let me carry you while I can. Let me love you and cheer you on and keep you safe and drink you in.

I brought him to our bed and placed him between us, his Poppa and me. He wanted to chat, but I whispered that we needed to wait until the sun was high in the sky. “High and ‘lellow’?” he asked. For “lellow” is his favorite color. It’s the color of his ultra-blond hair and his favorite cars and school busses and everything he loves the most. It’s the color of sunshine and it’s warm and happy and all the things Kai is to us.

Yes, bebe. Wait until the sun is high in the sky and bright lellow…

So he closed his eyes, he settled into plump pillows, his little feet resting against my leg. And as if my wish for making time stand still came true, a wave of deja-vu came over me: Gavin at not much older, in this same bed, he and I watching a Christmas movie. I kept drifting off and would be awakened with his little hand on my face, whispering, “Don’t go to sleep, Nonna – watch with me.” Then he would hold my face and look into my eyes making sure I stayed awake with him. I did.

And wasn’t  it just yesterday little Hunter would spend the night and when I’d think he had gone to sleep finally, on a special bed right beside mine, I’d wake up to find him, head propped on his hands, leaning on his elbows, practically nose to nose with me – just watching me. When he saw my eyes were open, he’d ask, “Are you awake, Nonna?” He just wanted to chat, middle of the night or not.

The memories felt thick and real.

For a second I couldn’t tell what year it was, suspended in timelessness and love.

I opened my eyes to check. And there was Kai, looking right at me in the slowly increasing light. He whispered something about us waiting for the sun to get high and lellow. He was holding his blue blankie and his little ‘lellow’ motorcycle {aka Vroom-Vroom}. He took the tiniest corner of the blankie into his mouth. It’s his comfort, the way he deals with things. You’ll see him just barely, very gently bite the very corner. It’s his alone, his thing.

We looked at each other in silence for a little bit, me, mesmerized by his baby blues, him, just barely touching his teeth to soft blue fabric.

Then he offered it to me – the corner of his blankie. He extended it my direction. “Bite? Want a bite, Nonna?”

He was giving me all of his earthly treasure, sharing the deepest love he could possibly share. Even recalling it now, *melting…

Kai and his umbrella

He is two. But he is already almost grown, too,  and the man God created him to be (so quickly). And I am not only undone, I am blown away at the power of the beautiful love of God through him.

Oliver is 7 weeks and 2 days old. Soon, so very soon,  he’ll be two, too.

See his newborn pics by Stephanie HERE.

oliver-small-size

Photo by Stephanie www.maydae.com

Thanking God for my grand-boys, His little men, today!

*James 4.13-14

 

 

My Sandy-girl Died

I have so many words inside my breaking heart, I am going to need a few days to sort them out, to tell her sweet story.

sandy and me 12 27 14

Sandy and me on 12/27/14

So, this is just to say that right now my heart is tender, and I never even wanted to have a dog because I didn’t want an end, but she was more than worth the mourning and pain I am experiencing now.

My daughter, Stephanie, rescued her from the landfill near DIA 14 years ago. She was full-grown even then, so we have no idea how old she ended up, but we had her for 14 loving, affectionate, gracious years. We called her our junk-yard dog, but her worth to us cannot be measured.

I have so many words, but for this post, until I can cry them out on another day, suffice it to say, she belonged to us all, the whole Rhoades tribe, kids and grandbebes. We all grieve.

She left quietly, trying hard not bother any of us, which was exactly the way she lived. It was Saturday morning, the birds were singing in the trees and she was leaving us with no particular fanfare.

She died in the backyard, her hair sparkling in the bright morning sun, waving gently in the sweet breeze…on a beautiful spring day, like all the days she gave us.

I’ve written about *Sandy* before:

5-12-2012Sandy, true to her German Wiredhaired Pointer characteristics, lives to please us.  She is like a trusted friend, always ready with a warm greeting when I come home, edging as close to my feet as possible when I sit.   In fact, where I go, she goes...” READ MORE HERE

2-18-2010The scraggly family mutt who was abandoned at the landfill years ago to run wild and fear her own shadow, the trembling pile of fur we drug home, intent on saving whether she wanted us or not, and named “Sandy” after the dog from the Broadway play and the 1982 movie, “Annie,” has come full circle.

Yes.  Sandy-the-Dog played Sandy-the-Dog in Prairie Playhouse’s production of “Annie,”  at tonight’s OPENING NIGHT!!!”  READ MORE HERE

11-17-2014As I write this, my dilapidated old dog is at my feet. Sandy is somewhere near the finish line. It makes me feel better knowing she’ll be joining her cousin-doggie soon, where the two of them can romp like puppies again together, well and whole.

Don’t try to debate me theologically on this point. Sandy is one of the most Christ-like creations of God I have ever known. She is a godly old girl…” READ MORE HERE

8-21-2014Oh Sandy, you sweet, old dog, you. I love how you watch me from the corner of your eye when I have told you to look away while I eat. I love how you patrol the yard and make a ruckus at the hint of the first sprinkle, as if you can hold thunder and lightening at bay. I love how you chase the birds loudly one day, then share your water bowl the next while you just look at them inches away from your nose. They are not afraid of you at all. And you’re a bird-dog.  I love your big, brown, pouty eyes and how you know when I need a friend…READ MORE HERE

7-26-2013She loves you already.  It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t even know you yet.  She has never met a human being she didn’t want to adore fully right off the bat, with the possible exceptions being screaming-2-year-olds.  They make her nervous.  But fully-grown people? She loves even the dog-haters.  She is just a great big lover.  She will attach herself to you as if she is the Secret Service on Presidential Guard duty.  No one will be able to get to you on her watch…READ MORE HERE

There are so many posts. But I’ll stop…I am so missing her.

Good grief

I spent the day after she died researching, desperately looking for a to-do list, a set of guidelines for getting through the grief process quickly. I even researched what “acceptable” grief for the loss of a beloved dog is. I found out that it will take however long it takes. I learned that old grief gets mixed in with new grief. I learned that I cannot be cured or fixed and there is no universal timetable and that life will go on, but that losing Sandy is a change, a loss of huge proportions to my heart and soul. So there will be tears and I will grieve. For however long…

…Missing my Sandy-girl tonight.

Ten Little Monkeys! {{.*Oliver:is:here*.}}

I have been woefully neglectful in posting, but that is because I have been deliriously enjoying the fact that I now have TEN Grand-bébés! Oh yes, I do! And isn’t that just THE most fabulous number???

“There were ten in the bed and the little one said, ‘Roll over, roll over’…”

“Ten little monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head…”

Yes. It is true. I am very well versed in toddler and pre-school songs and rhymes.

Ten!

Well, you have heard of Gavin and Hunter, and I’ve told you about Guini and Gemma May and Averi-J. We also have Amelie Belle and Malakai plus Bailey-Baby and Eva-Girl. But may I introduce you to my newest, darling grand-boy?

This is Oliver. Born to Dessa and Ryan (and to his big-sister, Evangeline) almost 2 weeks ago.

Oliver

*Oliver*

3 4 15 oliver

So much to say, but I’ll try to share it in small doses. Because, as you know, Nonnas can be overwhelmingly exuberant about the little-grands! Oh, yes, we can!

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“Oh, my sweet grand-bébés ~ YOU are my life’s greatest story!” -me :)

grandbebes

 

Oliver and his proud grand-poppa-

Dave and his newest grandson

 

A Prayer for My Grown Children

A prayer for my 5 grown children

This is from an email I sent them in 2012. Tara, Stephanie, Tredessa, Rocky & Stormie… 

the rhoades kids

May you each {within your own homes and families, now} live full and exciting lives, marked by sheer delight and pure joy, along with the surging Holy-Spirit-strength that comes from that!  And I pray you will have many good conversations with the people who matter the most and will enjoy experiences and memories that warm your heart at the end of each day along the way.

I pray that you will be blessed with work, the life-giving kind of service and labor that comes from knowing you are doing the good things God actually created you to do way before anyone else even knew there would be a you (see Ephesians 2.10). I speak grace to you, over your lives. I shake heaven’s gates praying you will have the grace to be everything God created you to be and the grace to accomplish everything He created you to accomplish!

I pray you will press in to know the One who loves you most (Hosea 6.3), and that you will zealously, and with consecrated energy, live for the praise of His glory! I urge you to break off the chains of the quotidian existence sometimes imposed by the times and our culture in its’ pursuit of amassing things, gaining impressive status or careers with fancy titles.  And  I pray and declare that you’ll live, really live, in the hope for which God has called you.

Make every effort to enter into the rest of God (Hebrews 4.11), my sweets. Jesus paid it all, so don’t bother trying to earn your place in Him. He has got you covered.

Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost – that is Kingdom of God, the doors-wide-open welcoming House of the Lord. This is where we live, in the Household of Faith. There is bread in His house, you’ll never lack for His provision. Come, eat, my beloved children. Don’t go hungry when the feast has been spread.

I pray you’ll sleep sweetly through all your nights (Proverbs 3.24) under the moon and stars hung by your loving Father, having lived your days without regret and shame. And I pray you’ll drop into bed in sheer exhaustion, but that it will always be that “good kind of tired.”

I never even hoped to dream I’d have children like you. You were made for me. And I was made for you. I love you all very much and am wholly honored that God chose me to be your mom. And I am, you know…And I pray for you!

These are not just a random selection of nice thoughts for these who came from me. They are actually dedicated, targeted prayers for wholeness (and healing, too as it is needed) for a few of my weak areas – places where I may have (probably) failed them. Thank God He can redeem and restore and His grace is greater!

Averi-Girl: The 5th grandbebe turns 7!

averi4

I was so proud of myself when I took this picture of you at 1 1/2 years old. But I did have to chase you around the yard for an hour as you excitedly explored the garden before I got this! You make me smile! Oh, yes, you do!

Hey, my sweet birthday girl~

averi & sisters

 The day we all did our make-up. :)

Happy-hApPy-delightful-delirious-joyful-head-over-heels-laughing-dancing-rejoicing-fun-FUN-fun-gladhearted-jumping-jelly-beans-cartwheels- & -kisses Birthday, Little Miss Averi!

Oh your Nonna loves you, girl. You know that, right? You’re funny and sweet and wry and so-very-mature and insightful. You’re considerate and thoughtful and every bit the perfect firstborn, and big-sister. I just don’t know what we ever did without you! You make life sweeter and neater and so much more beautiful! Every time I think of you, I smile. When I get to see you, well, I just go a little bonkers with happiness!

averi 7th

 I thank God for you, Averi Jadyn! I think He outdid Himself in creating you! I thank Him and I add my blessing. I bless your days and all your ways. I bless those piercing, liquid-blue eyes. I bless those oh-so-kissable cheeks.

I bless you as a big sister and a good cousin. I bless you as the perfect niece and a wonderful granddaughter {we’re so lucky to have you}.

averi1

You were 4 or 5 months here and so scrumptious I could just eat you up!

I bless the things you’ll see, that you may see them with God’s eyes. I bless your hands, those beautiful, graceful little hands, that they’ll be applied to good works God prepared ahead of time for you to do – even before you were born.

averi2

I bless you as an honoring daughter – knowing that as you honor your mommy and daddy, the Bible promises it will go well for you and you’ll live long on the earth! What will go well? LIFE! The life Jesus came to give you, abundant and wondrous and free from any kind of captivity! I bless your life. May you always be in Christ. May you find your most treasured identity and home in Him!

You’re becoming more beautiful by the day because it is coming from the inside. As I see you growing up, 7 going on 17, I see a deep radiance, a caring girl. It is lighting you up from the inside out. And oh, how your Nonna loves you and is blessed by you. I know God is pleased by you, too. I sense His joy in you!

averi5

Someday, when you need reminding about what I have always thought of you and maybe you’ll need to know how much God loves you, I hope you’ll remember to come to this blog and read these words again and know that Nonna is shaking heaven’s gates for you, praying for your life, for good things for you. And I am reminding God over and over that I want Him to be with you always and make His face to shine right on you and to surround you with His favor like a shield and to give you grace to be all He created you to be and to do all He calls you to do.

And you what? He has already promised that He will do and be all these things to you in His Word! All the wonderful secrets are there – in your Bible! But I will keep on praying for you and reminding Him for you, anyway. And I will agree with His good plans for your life and shout AMEN! Yes, Lord! Let it be!

Happy Birth~week, my sweet! You are a good girl. And I’m so proud of you!

Love, {Nonna}

I bless the girl my son married

Hey, Jovanie~

jovan and rocky and family

Oh, sweet girl, how did almost 3 months pass before I got to this post? Life has been a whirlwind, yes? And YOU had a birthday, and moved a little too far away for my heart – all at once {October 31st}. In the middle of so many good and wonderful gifts from above, a whirlwind of exciting living – we breathlessly paused and celebrated. And thanked God for you, again.

jovan with bailey

As birthday posts go, I have never been later. And this one has been sitting in the drafts folder, not quite finished far too long. But know this, at least: as daughter-in-loves go, there is none more cherished or delightful! And I still thank God for you, birthday or any day and everyday of your life and mine!

I love you, Jovan Marie Rhoades! And I bless the day you were born, born to a future that included marrying Rocky and to giving me three of the most adorable little grand-girlies in the world…so far, anyway! :)

jovan and rocky selfie

We’ve known you for half your life!

It is really strange to imagine our family without you, having known you now since you were 14 years old. And when you came into our lives (fourteen years ago, to be exact), you just fit. You were easy to know, easy to have in the room. You hung out with Stormie, sometimes spending the night at our houses and then got up and did chores, like any of our kids.

Who is this amazing girl, I wondered? I must remember to thank her parents!*

jovan and rocky

I love that his heart is safe with you.

And you befriended Rocky, too. You admired him and respected him and looked up to him ( a whole 2 years older, right?) and I liked how I saw you looking at my son. I thought that Rocky choosing you was one of the greatest things he could ever have done. I still think so. And I love that even before we knew you, during the years you were growing up with your two sisters and godly parents, long before we were ready to think of our only son ever even getting married – you were being equipped to be Rocky’s. God was at work in your heart and life, and he was at work in our son. He alone knew what the two of you could be together, as one. So mysterious and beautiful. It makes me wonder why I ever worried over my kids at all – the way God so carefully orchestrates adventure and life and love and goodness and mercy over you all.

IMG_6197

So, even though I thought I had all the daughters I could handle, with the four incredible beauties I birthed myself, it turns out, getting to have just one more {YOU} has been a blessing of mammoth proportions! You have been a sweetness and grace, a reward to me for getting through the years of raising 5 children! Ha!

I do thank God for you, Jovan. I was so happy to get to tell Averi and Amelie recently, as we were “doing hair and make-up,” what I have told you many times before: I grew up saying I intended to have 8 sons, eight! It sounded fun. But then I had 3 daughters, finally a son and in an attempt to get one more – another daughter! But wow-Rocky was an energetic handful of rambunctious-ness and I later realized I would have fallen dead from exhaustion if I had actually birthed 8 little Rocky-types. Haha. Oh, how I love that little boy and the man he has become for the ways he has challenged me! LOVE him.

So, I was glad to tell your daughters, my cute grandbebes, how delighted I was to find scripture that fit us, you and me, so perfectly. It’s Naomi’s friends talking to her about her devoted daughter-in-law, Ruth:

“And may [your grandchild] be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne [this child].”  Ruth 4

There it is! And I will always be able to tell your children with my whole heart: your mommy, who gave me you, is better to me than seven more sons would have been. So even though I didn’t get the 8 baby boys I always thought I’d have, I got you, and I got a daughter-in-love who has my heart for always.

Averi said, “I’ve heard that story!” And I hope she’ll never forget.

A Birthday Blessing for my Jovan, the world’s best daughter-in-law:

So, today, I bless you. I bless your heart and soul and your thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams. I bless the family you are building with Rocky and the your days with the  beautiful Presence of God. I pray all you give out will come back to you many times. I bless you with the deep love in marriage and the honor of your children and with the long life that goes so-very-well for you because of how you honor your parents. I bless your days, your hours and minutes – may they be lived fully and colorfully, and may they be fruitful and accomplish much to the glory of God. I pray you will flourish, become deeper rooted, and all your gifting and talents will be received with great fanfare and welcome whenever and wherever they begin to show up. I speak against any enemy lies or assignments on your life and agree for any chain that tries to hold you down to be broken and left in a heap while you go from glory to glory, strength to strength, fully shining like the bright joy you are! Yes! In Jesus’ Name! {{*AMEN.*}}

jovan and rocky with girls

You were born to be one of us, Jovan. My thanks to your parents for raising such a lovely young woman. My thanks to Rocky for having the good sense to make you his standard of beauty and desire, his wife and one flesh. And my thanks to God for His grace on all of us, through you. {mom}

*P.S. Speaking of Jovan’s wonderful parents –

Today is Jo’s birthday! I finally got Jovan’s birthday blessing posted on her mom’s birthday! I mean there would be no Jovan without Jo! Happy Birthday, Jo!

Happy-Birthday-jo