The Daily Post – Trance at the Museum

 

A trip to the Perot Museum in downtown Dallas took us to the Gems and Minerals Hall.  An exhibit which filled me with awe as I wandered around and looked at an amazing array of treasures from this wondrous earth.

In particular, the large, and very pretty, amethyst geode was remarkable to look at.  So gorgeous with all the shiny and sparkly purple gems glistening under the bright lights -it was enough bling to send a girl into a trance!

My granddaughter, Thérèse, loved it, too!

Spending time inside an air-conditioned museum on a hot Texas day was fun.

Spending it with family was even better.

Daily Prompt – Shallow

The grief I have felt over losing our dog, Ricki, has taken me by surprise and, taken me longer than I expected to get over.

It took me about 6 weeks but I finally washed her bedding, folded up her crate and put it away.

When memories pop-up on Facebook or Timehop the ache re-surfaces and I miss her all over again.

One particularly poignant moment occurred when all three of my men – meaning my husband and teenagers – went out of town at the same time.  I was getting into bed that first night and realized that Ricki wasn’t there to warn me if someone broke in during the night.  And, since her sidekick, Lucy, is deaf I knew she would sleep through any potential trouble.

Little things and moments still occur to remind me of the loss and, at those times, it surprises me how much I miss her sweet face.

When I saw today’s daily prompt – shallow – the first thing I thought of was Ricki playing in the water.  She loved to run straight into lakes or creeks, swim out a little then come back and play in the shallow water.

But, I can’t really discount the joy of running in shallow snow, either. Nothing like a little wintry weather in Texas to get us excited and hyped up.

Finally, just because this picture makes me laugh I’m including it.  In what turned out to be her last ‘photo shoot’ I got an image of what looks like Ricki smiling but, the grandkids looking a little picture-weary.

WPC: Atop the Circle of Life

Life ends, life begins and life goes on.

Feeling atop the circle of life with the death of my aunt followed closely by the birth of my grandchild, it has been a hectic week. As they always do, each of these life happenings kindled those deep emotions reminding me, once again, how I need to love deeply.

My aunt was a favorite and my childhood memories are filled with her laughing, joking, making smart-aleck remarks and her family famous German Chocolate Cake.  The last several years, especially since the death of her husband, finding joy in daily life seemed to be more of a struggle but, she still made us smile with her constant repetition of phrases like, “I’ll tell you for durn sure” and “well o gosh o Friday”.  (I never knew what the second one meant or where the saying came from but it was a staple)

She had a full life – even went parasailing at the age of 80.  And, while I know she is no longer suffering, and has been reunited with those she loved so dearly, I will miss her.

And, so, as death passes a new life begins with the birth of Colette Grace this week.  Colette is apparently a very laid back and relaxed baby who is in no hurry to go anywhere fast.  She took her sweet time introducing herself but, when she arrived, her birth was beautiful and filled with a quiet that was broken only by her first breaths and a good cry with the doctor announcing, “it’s a girl!”.   As Colette’s life began on the outside of her mother’s womb, there was a peace prevailing in the room.  A peaceful beginning for Colette and a peaceful ending for my aunt.  A lovely way to end and begin life.

When they got home I watched her sleeping in the bassinet and I was surprised how tiny she looked.  It really is so easy to forget how little they are as newborns and how fast they grow.  This was driven home that evening when we got to video chat with our grandson in Japan.  At 3 1/2 months old he is already getting big and is smiling, talking and changing everyday.

Birth, life, death – it is all closely entwined and serves to remind me how lucky I am to have so much love in my life.  I hope those around also feel deeply loved by me.

 

 

Waiting for Baby

The ‘official’ due date for my baby girl to deliver her baby girl has come and gone so now we are all sitting around staring at her, waiting for her to announce, “this is it!”

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  We aren’t actually sitting.  Or staring.  We are keeping busy and carrying on with life as usual.

Yesterday, in an effort to remain occupied we took advantage of some beautiful springtime weather and spent time at the Dallas Arboretum.

I’ll tell you – no matter what the season this place never fails to amaze me with its beauty.

In the fall you have Autumn at the Arboretum with pumpkins galore

For the Christmas season, it’s the Twelve Days at Night

Right now, it’s Dallas Blooms.  A beautiful array of springtime flowers punctuated with carpets of amazing tulips in vibrant colors.

It is stunning.

This years theme is ‘Peace, Love, and Flower Power’ and showcased Volkswagon’s covered in blooms.

Texas-sized games were available that kids and grown-ups alike enjoyed.

Cute grandkids and lush backgrounds made for great photo ops.

In hopes that a lot of walking would help jumpstart labor we stayed for a long while. Apparently, Baby is quite comfy and all we managed to do was wear mom out.

A lovely family waiting for a small bundle of joy to join them.

Any time now Baby K…

I wish, for my daughter’s sake, that Baby comes sooner rather than later.  Even though she feels, at this point, like she might be pregnant forever, we know she will go into labor.  For now – we continue to pray for the blessing of a safe delivery and the joy of new baby snuggles.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

Eyes of Asia

Linking up with a travel blogger who chose the theme ‘eyes‘ for this week I am sharing pictures from China.

I love to watch people.  I love to take pictures of people.  Our stay in Jiading – a ‘suburb’ of Shanghai – offered me ample opportunities to sit and soak up the local atmosphere.

The plaza just on the other side of the canal from our hotel was a perfect spot to sit.  During the day the children ran and jumped and played and roller skated.  They loved that I was taking pictures and would come right up to me and pose.  Their eyes shone with curiosity about the blonde-haired, fair-skinned lady with the camera.

jiading dancing

When the work day ended the adults would gather, the music would start and an impromptu dance would begin.  They danced and they laughed and they left the stress of the day behind.  It was absolutely delightful and the happiness in their eyes was contagious.

jiading baby

Several times I was approached by those who wondered who I was, where I came from and why I looked so different.  They were not shy about asking gesturing for me to take pictures with or of them. Like this mom – you can see the excitement in her eyes.  She was so eager to have her baby ‘meet’ me that she took out her Iphone and asked gestured for me to pose with her little girl.  I reciprocated and asked gestured for her to pose, too.  I think the baby was just confused – that’s what I see in her eyes.

Jiading eyes1

This man was taking a break from his street sweeping as I made my way back to the hotel.  His eyes look a little tired – maybe because his day had been long and he wasn’t quite finished yet.

p b j j p b

These guys.  My three boys.  Walking across the plaza they did not see me.  I had to yell out a couple of times before they figured out who was making a racket.  Their eyes were covered but, I promise you, they are the most beautiful shades of brown, green and hazel.

01-jan-dfr

And, finally, these beautiful eyes.  They belong to my new grandson.   Babies are wonderful.  Just wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter in Texas

With a high today – today being February 10 –  of a 88 degrees it was definitely a day to get out and enjoy the sunshine.

These pictures were taken in November and I’m always aware that, although we get cold snaps, we also get to enjoy many days that are weather-perfected.  No matter what time of year it is, the sinking sun and  shadows never bother the grandkids, especially when grandpa gets the ultra-fun toys out and plays with them.

Path Perspective

icemageddonSometimes the path is cold, cloudy, empty and feels lonely

Photo cred to Kyon Photography www.kyonphotography.com

Other times it is filled with sunshine, joy, chaos and love

DFROur path continues to grow with the addition of a new grandbaby

Our family is a circle of strength and love, with every birth and every union, the circle will grow, every joy shared adds more love, every crisis faced together, makes the circle stronger.
Author Unknown

 

The Heard on Black Friday

 

It’s not this time of year without the madness of the Black Friday frenzy.  And, while I have, in past years, jumped on the bandwagon in search of savings, this year I had no desire to join the crowds.

However, I did feel the need to get outside and make the most of the sunshine and mild temperatures.  With such good weather my daughter and I made  a plan to visit dinosaurs and explore trails at   The Heard Museum in McKinney, Texas.

Arriving earlier than the rest of the family I was able to get in two miles before we met up.  I enjoyed the solitude in nature as I encountered fewer and fewer people the farther out I went.

The water, the turtles and our version of autumn

When they arrived I met them on the dinosaur trail, and as I came up behind the kids I was met with the wonderfully familiar sound of “NAAANNAA” as they caught sight of me.

Dinosaurs – oh my! Let’s take a a selfie.

As we wandered along we came across a trail that none of us had been on in a while and decided to follow it.  Five year old Kolbe was convinced that this was the trail with the giant white sycamore and really wanted to find the tree.  Despite the rain a few days ago everything had been relatively dry so we thought, “okay!”

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-16It may have been a little muddy in a few spots.

We were thoroughly enjoying our hike when we came across areas that had obviously been flooded.  Seeing a bridge which had been washed away from who-knows-where along with all of the piled up branches, trees and debris we commented on the damage.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-2

See the bridge?

Walking a bit further we suddenly found the spot where the bridge had been.  And, it was where we needed to cross. 11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-1We wondered, “Should we turn around and retrace our steps or see if we can get across?”

Now let me set this scene for you.  We were a party of seven.  One Nana – that’s me, one daddy, one pregnant mommy, two school-age kids and two young-un’s.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-11

The littlest ones

What the heck – it was time to be adventurous.  If we fell in the water or slipped in the mud it wouldn’t be too bad.  After all, it was 62 degrees with sunshine and no wind!

It’s an adventure payoff!  We all got across and no one fell in!

Time for another selfie.  Or two!

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-7AND – we found the giant sycamore!  More than 160 years old!

As we came to the end of the trail we realized we had been hiking a closed trail.  Due to damage from flooding. Oops.

11-nov-25-black-friday-at-the-heard-17I don’t know what happened to the sign at the start of the trail, but our ‘adventures’ made a good day truly memorable.

 

Forgiveness

205653_229089443895247_1015121692_n

I found this picture on Facebook several years ago and, for me; it is one of those profound statements with an impact.  And, it’s been true several times in my life – when I finally found the courage to let go of something I may not have found immediate happiness, but I found a sense of peace.   And, with peace, happiness will follow.

Let me back up a little bit.

It’s been five years since my dad died.  He was an alcoholic, and this piece is about our relationship.

From time to time,  I have the opportunity to share my life story with groups of women.   Each time I’m asked to do it I pull up the written version to re-read it and make any updates that may be needed.   This, inevitably,  always leads to a bit of reflection on my part as I go over the events that have brought me to where I am today.  And, today, I am in a good place.  Healthy in both mind and body having long since left the wounded child behind.

One of the last times I shared my story I was asked a bunch of questions.  Questions about forgiveness and overcoming difficult situations.  The next day, while taking a walk, I continued to reflect on the conversations my story had sparked and, on life with dad.  When I returned home, I went to my mom and asked her if she thought it would be okay if I shared my story in a blog.   After all, I do want to share this, but I didn’t want to cause her any undue pain or make her uncomfortable so we chatted about it for a bit and she gave me her blessing.  Thanks, Mom.

Okay here goes – my dad was a Secret Service agent.  The reality of his job wasn’t as glamorous as portrayed by the media.  He worked long hours, traveled a lot and some months we hardly saw him at all.  Protecting President’s and Dignitaries and working serious counterfeiting cases was stressful and took a toll.  In 1979,  a particularly difficult Trans-Atlantic move combined with a demanding work schedule became too much for my father, and he was at a breaking point.   Let me note here that in 1979 programs had not been implemented to deal with the effects of job burnout and high levels of stress.  You were expected to man up and deal with it.   When my dad went to his boss and said he needed some time away from the job he was told exactly that – suck it up and get over it.  My father’s response?  Well, feeling trapped, needing a break and finding no support he abruptly resigned his position.

And with that, the career he loved so much was finished and a hellish life began. I was 16 years old, and up until then, I had had a pretty good childhood.

My dad always enjoyed his beer and wine and did his fair share of partying but after he left the Secret Service his drinking took on a whole new intensity.  I’m going to skip a lot of the details of living with an alcoholic.  Let’s just say life was not fun or happy at my house.  He was drunk most of the time, and in that drunkenness, he began to abuse my mom and us kids emotionally and verbally.

Each of us in my family handled it differently, and I cannot speak for anyone else but, for me, I turned to Ronald – my then boyfriend and eventually my husband.  I spent as much time as possible with him and away from my house.   As my home life deteriorated and my dad wasn’t able to find or hold onto a job the financial picture became grim.  My parents ultimately had their house foreclosed and ended up returning to the town where they both grew up.  This occurred just after Ronald and I married – at the tender age of 19.  After they had moved, I believed that, with my father in another city, and me married, that all my troubles were over and I would indeed live happily ever after from that point on.

I can almost laugh at how naïve I was.  I had no idea how much I had been affected and the work it would ultimately take to overcome.  I thought all the problems were with my dad and did not realize that living with him and his addiction had created a whole set of problems for me too.  It wasn’t long after they moved that my issues began to surface.  Again, I could give you all the sordid details about what I mess I was and all the mistakes I made, but I would rather get to the better bits.  Let’s just put it this way:  I had anger issues and felt like I could never get a grip on life.  I was happy one moment and despairing the next.  I wondered if I was crazy because I couldn’t control my emotions.  Eventually, I learned that much of what I went through was typical for a kid with an alcoholic parent.  But at the time I had no clue.  Overall I could have been the poster child for a troubled young adult.

I don’t want you to think that I was a complete raving lunatic all that time.  There were wonderful aspects to my life… two beautiful children, a beautiful house we built, good friends and a church I adored.  I don’t think outwardly I displayed too much of the confusion that I was experiencing.  I think most of my craziness happened behind closed doors and out of earshot of anyone but Ronald and maybe a few confidants.

Over the years I did a lot of counseling while trying to deal with this.  I would go for a while, hear blah blah blah and surprisingly (not) I continued to deteriorate.  I would stop my sessions but then would decide I needed to continue so I would find someone new and start again. Eventually, I found a therapist that was awesome and amazing and helped me to turn my life around.  It also happened around that same time that I began working with this great company.  They were pretty forward thinking and were constantly making us read positive books like Stephen Covey’s Seven Habit’s of Highly Effective People,  do affirmation exercises and encouraged us to live our lives in gratitude and appreciation.  The timing of this was incredible and instrumental in helping me begin to turn my life around.

Don’t ever try to tell me that God’s timing isn’t perfect.

With these elements in place, and taking root in my life, I headed off one day to see my counselor.  During this appointment I began, yet again, whining about how my dad wasn’t who I wanted him to be and how he was wreaking havoc in my life when my counselor stopped me, looked at me and said….

“You have to let go of this fight.  Your dad is who he is.  You will NOT change him.  He is an alcoholic. You can either accept this and love him where he is at or you can leave this relationship and have nothing to do with him.”

Wow.  Was that ever a breakthrough moment.  The light bulb lit up, the proverbial slap on the forehead occurred, the big Aha…..well you get it.  Right then and there my life changed.  I guess maybe I was in a place that I was finally able to absorb those words – whatever the reason I finally got it into my head that I was who I was and he was who he was.  I wasn’t going to change him, and I wasn’t going to be able to make him stop drinking.  I could only change myself.  I made the decision to stop fighting the fight of trying to make my dad be who I wanted – and thought – he should be.  I took a huge breath and at that moment began healing myself.

Was it easy? No.  Did I find success overnight?  No.  Did I do it perfectly? I wish!  It was a process where you take two steps forward and one step back.  Sometimes it was one step forward and two steps back!  And as much as I would like to say that things were rosy and happy between my dad and me from that moment on anybody who has experienced ‘real’ life knows that isn’t realistic.  But on the other hand, it wasn’t all bad either.  I have some very sweet memories of my father mixed in with the tough ones.  As I healed and found more success in letting his words and actions bounce off me, I was able to find more objectivity in my dealings with him.

How did I do it?  First and foremost through my faith.  God is so amazing and when I stopped trying to mold my dad into what I wanted I also turned my attention more fully back to Him.  The grace He will flood you with is astounding when you finally say – and mean – I cannot do this on my own – I need You.  In letting go of my need to control I was able to open my heart more fully to Christ and by doing that I was able to take a step back and see the bigger picture more clearly and deal with our relationship more effectively.  I’m not kidding.

Most days this is my mantra – Philippians 4:13 – I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.  And on those days I forget to repeat my mantra – I tend to struggle more.

I also made the effort to start turning my negative thoughts into positives one.  Living a life that is thankful and appreciative does make a difference.  It is remarkable the change that occurs when you stop focusing on the pessimistic and celebrate the good things happening in your life.

The last thing I did was continue in therapy.  I buckled down and dealt with the issues that had plagued me for years.  I learned how my dad’s alcoholism had adversely affected me and I wanted to overcome that and put it behind me.  It would have been very easy to stay in that negative world and blame him for all that was wrong in my life.  But that is dangerous.   Once I learned the impact that alcoholism had on me, then it became my responsibility to overcome those negatives and find my happiness.  Yes, it is true that I had a rough start, but ultimately my peace of mind and joy is up to me.

What else contributes to peace of mind?  Forgiveness. Which is not forgetting.  Forgiving my dad for his shortcomings never, for even one moment, meant that I was okay with his drinking and the way he treated us.  I think Matthew West said it beautifully in his song appropriately titled “Forgiveness”:

There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Yep – it’s true.  In giving up the need to control and finding a way to forgive my dad the one who was set free was me.

Am I a happier person overall since I began the healing journey? Without a doubt. Do I, at times, still struggle with a short fuse and say or do things that I wish I could take back?  Oh for sure.  Do I have moments where I slide back into the needy, whiny 20-year-old and wish the world would just do what I want it to do?  Probably more often than I realize.  But here’s the thing….. I have the skills now to overcome the negatives and the desire to live a happy life with Christ at the very center of it.  With God, the most amazing thing is that I can start every day new and fresh.  A lot of times I have forgotten that – sometimes for days or weeks at a time – but once I manage to get myself re-focused I find that starting point and begin again.

My dad did stop drinking eventually, but our relationship remained tricky.  We butted heads until the end.   The years of drinking took a toll on my dad’s health, and he suffered from many different ailments.  Before he died, he needed to be on dialysis three times per week.  This is hard on a body, and he was tired of the toll it took and decided that he wanted to discontinue his treatments.  He sent my mom and us kids an email one morning outlining his decision.  I was at home at the time and took a few moments to sit and reflect on this.  I knew without the dialysis he could not live long and felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to walk over and see him. (I know I said earlier that they moved back to their hometown but they ended up moving back this way to be closer to their grandchildren.) I asked if he was sure this is what he wanted to do.  He told me it was.  So I told him that I would support his decision and support whatever he needed to make his remaining time as comfortable as possible.  I also took the opportunity to tell him that although he and I had a very difficult relationship, I considered my young childhood to be one of the best.  I told him I loved him, he told me he loved me, and we hugged.  I was glad for the opportunity to share that moment with just the two of us as the coming weeks were constantly filled with people.   He died 16 days later, peacefully at home.  I am very aware of the gift I received –  knowing my father was dying, God, in all of his graciousness helped me to put aside my hard feelings to make sure his last days were tranquil and not filled with discourse.  I am so humbled by God’s love and the grace that He gave me not only to be able to give this gift to my dad but also to be on the receiving end of it.  In the end, I have no regrets about how things were between us when he passed from this world. That in itself brings me a great measure of peace.

I don’t think I would be where I am today if those words about letting go hadn’t been spoken to me so many years ago.  It IS a happy moment when you can find the courage to stop trying to change what you cannot control.  And like I said earlier – the peace to be found in forgiveness is unparalleled.  And never would I forget to give credit to God for working on my heart all these many years and, in the end,  giving me the courage to put aside my feelings.

1 Peter 4:8  Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.