Smile – It’s Your Birthday

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Joshua – 10 years old 

For the parents out there – have you ever said to one of your children, “I hope you have a child just like you”?  And, if you did say it, was it because they were being about as perfect as perfect could be?  Or… not? Maybe it was said in one of those completely exasperating moments.  I don’t actually recall if I’ve said that to my children. Chances are, at the very least, I said it to my son, Joshua.

Joshua is all grown up now and he and his wife just had their second son but, when he was a child he was always precocious and inquisitive.  His curiosity kept me on my toes and is now legendary when we reminisce about antics from his younger days.

When Baby Alan arrived a few days ago he had the small but distinct honor of arriving on his great-great-grandmothers birthday.  She would have been 118.  As I was thinking about my grandmother…and her birthday…and Alan’s birth/birthday…and Alan’s daddy (Joshua) my mind then drifted to my grandmother’s funeral.

I didn’t say my thoughts made any sense.

But, they did make me smile.

We were having a visitation for my grandmother at the funeral home.  She looked peaceful and pretty in her casket.  As it usually is the top half of the casket was open and we could see my grandma from the waist up.

Joshua, fairly young at the time – and always curious – climbed onto the side of the casket to get a better view.  As he looked at her he decided he needed to see the rest of her and pushed the satin drape aside to get a better look.

Pretty much in the coffin at that point, he yelled, “HEY! She doesn’t have any shoes on! She’s barefoot!  What’s she supposed to do when she gets to Heaven?  Why does Grandma get to go barefoot and I have to keep my shoes on??”

Inquisitive, enquiring, questioning, probing minds wanted to know.

Oh Joshua, how I love you.

 

Baby Alan, with every joyful ounce of a Nana’s love… You hit the jackpot with your daddy.  I hope you grow up to be just like him.

 

 

 

 

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The Hope Amid the Darkness

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.                 Corrie Ten Boom

Holy Saturday.

Jesus has been crucified and buried.

His followers are bewildered and afraid.

Darkness prevailed.

Looking back over the past month I have struggled with my own bewilderment and darkness as I’ve attempted to come to grips with the death of the 16-year-old soccer teammate of my son, Ben.

It began on March 8th.

That morning I received a text from my other son, Patrick, “something’s happened at Jesuit”

Me, “what do you mean?  is the school on lockdown? Are there alarms going off? Are there emergency vehicles? Why do you think something has happened?” (It had only been three weeks since the school shootings had happened in Florida – I was feeling a little nervous.)

Son, “I’m not sure but they announced a freshman and sophomore meeting and changed the class schedule for the day.”

A moment later, “a sophomore died.  It was a car crash.  Guy Delaney, he played JV soccer.  Ben probably knows him.”

And, with that news, the day and the ones that followed went dark.

My heart was shattered for Guy, his family, his teammates, friends and, the staff at Jesuit who now had to help the students and each other navigate a second student death this school year.

My heart was also broken for Ben who was devastated and confused and had no idea how to handle the amount of grief he felt. I was overwhelmed, and surprised, by my own sorrow and the anguish I felt for Guy’s family.

Darkness settled in and I struggled through the ensuing days. I tried to choose joy when I woke in the morning and I tried to be thankful for the many blessings each day brings.  I tried.

But the darkness and grief were powerful.

I didn’t question God or why it happened.  I know free will dictated the choice made by the driver who caused the crash.  And, I believe strongly that, even as Jesus welcomed Guy into His kingdom, he also cried for the loss felt so strongly by so many.

My head knew these things but I couldn’t seem to convince my heart that everything was going to be okay.

As funerals often do, it began the process of closure for those outside his immediate family.  Guy’s parents invited the soccer players to honor him by wearing their jerseys, processing in and placing a white rose on his casket.  The service was filled to capacity and the tributes remembering Guy helped everyone laugh through the tears.

And, a sliver of light broke through.

Two weeks after his passing, and playing their first soccer game since the funeral, the JV soccer team was praying before things got underway.  It was a cloudy sky but as the team huddled together a ray of sunshine broke through and shone on the players.  It was an incredibly powerful moment.

(photo cred to Rob Kelton)

The grace of God and our faith tells us this was Guy.

The sliver of light became a bright sunbeam.

The hope amid the darkness.

As Ben and I continued to talk about Guy, and the hardness of losing someone, the days slowly became brighter.  One morning, Ben shared with me that Guy had come to him in a dream during the night.  In the dream, Guy told him he was okay, Ben was able to tell him goodbye and they hugged. Ben felt the hug and he felt the love.  “It was so real”, he said.

Guy is in the arms of Jesus.  And, in a few hours, we will commemorate Jesus’ victory over death.

Bad things happen but, God is good.  Today, he has wrapped his loving arms around Guy’s family and all those who love him and continue to struggle with their grief.

And, long ago, on that Holy Saturday when his followers were baffled and afraid God knew the bigger plan would triumph.

The light is coming.  Hope is on the horizon.  Jesus will rise.  His followers and those of us who believe understand that even amidst all the confusion, grief, and darkness God’s love will prevail.

Thanks be to God.

Guy’s own profound words, written in a memory book and shared by his father, Neil, at the funeral:

“Work hard, be patient, say your prayers and the rest will follow.”

warning:  Love wins.

I did another post right after Guy died when the team played their first game without him.  If you are interested you can read that blog here.

Sunrise & Sunset – Texas Style

I never tire of watching the sun rise or set and, I never tire of photographing it, either.  There are way too many beautiful ones I’ve taken pictures of to limit this post to just one.  Although I did manage to keep it to ‘just’ five.

Spectacular Texas…

On-the-go-picture of the sunset: driving north on HWY 287 to Amarillo

Allen, Texas: sunset at the grocery store

Sunrise on Lake Lewisville at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House

A heron at sunrise also at Montserrat

Sitting on the dock watching a spider and the sunrise

 

Meandering with Lucy

Maybe it is the time change, but my 14-year-old Westie, Lucy, woke up this afternoon and was feeling feisty.  Lucy, who is mostly deaf and partly blind and spends most of her days sleeping wanted to play so – taking advantage of a pretty afternoon and the extended daylight – we went for a walk.

Cool temperatures, budding trees, blooming grape hyacinths, and one of those amazing sunsets turned a quick walk into an opportunity to meander.

These moments are always good.  And appreciated.

The Wonder of Playing Through the Pain

Our Jesuit community lost a student on Wednesday.  A beloved 15-year-old sophomore, who also played JV soccer, Guy was tragically killed in a horrific car crash.  This is the second death this school year that the students, staff and, families have dealt with.

It is a lot.

It is a wonder that, despite the loss and the pain, Guy’s teammates were able to bolster their courage and play tonight.

During the game I snapped a picture of my son, Ben, playing goalie.  Ben is also a sophomore and like everyone has been deeply affected by Guy’s death.  But like the rest of his teammates, he played for Guy.

The sun was setting and in the distance part of the Dallas skyline was visible. It was beautiful and made for an easier moment in a day filled with hard ones.

Daily Post – Miraculous

I have always considered the birth of a child to be a great miracle.  God is wondrous and amazing, and when I think how a beautiful new life is created by an act of intimate love, I am awed.

Our first miraculous event occurred more than 30 years ago today with the birth of our first child; our daughter, Krista.  She is a continual blessing in our lives, and I am blessed to be her mom.

Happy Birthday to our first born miracle (holding her last born miracle) You are loved simply for being gifted to us by God.

 

 

Small Business Saturday – Don’t Forget the Little Guy

If you go out and shop this weekend remember to visit the smaller, family-owned businesses, too.  Whether it’s a restaurant, retail or service, as the underdogs in this big business universe we certainly aren’t conglomerates, we are just trying to support our families and make a difference in our little corner of the world.

Come see us – you will get a higher level of customer service from knowledgeable staff, along with competitive pricing and financing options. Okay, maybe you won’t get financing options if you’re visiting a mom and pop restaurant but, if there is a problem, the owners will help resolve issues.  After all, we want to ensure you are satisfied so you’ll come back again and again.

This weekend, wherever you live, please look for and shop at the small companies that make up the fabric of your community. Give us a chance to help you and give you a better experience then you’ll get with a large company. Seriously, it doesn’t cost anything to check us out and see what you’ve been missing. And, if we can’t find what you need or get what you want than those big chain stores are just down the road.

Come see us. We need YOUR business to stay in business.

Oh – and tell your friends too.

WPC – Experimental

Our son, Patrick, is a senior in high school this year and I want some nice pictures of him.  Always looking for ways to save a buck or two I decided to take some shots on my own and see if I liked what I saw.  He’s been playing marimba for the band since his freshman year and music is a big part of his life.  Naturally, I want  to include this monster instrument in some of the shots.

Being 18 he, at first, gave me nothing but scowls and eye rolls but, then, once we had a little smile-or-else chat (that’s the polite version) he cooperated and we actually even had a couple of laughs.

Round 1 was strictly experimental and I haven’t decided if I’m happy yet or not.  We will see.

Wanting some close-up shots I enlisted the help of younger brother Ben.  These may be the funniest of the series because there is no way to crop Ben’s rear end out without losing part of Patrick’s head.  Suffice to say there will be Round 2 because the shot hasn’t happened yet.

Stay tuned.