My Hands

My hands are not perfect. They are beginning to get age spots and creases along the knuckles.

But as I look at my hands, I recall the many wonderful moments with my children they have experienced.

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My fingers gently stroked their soft cheeks and held them close to my heart the very first moment we met.

My hands wiped their tears, tucked in blankets, and made lunches.

They held kite strings, picked up countless Lego’s, and sewed on scout patches.

These hands held on tightly while crossing the street or offering comfort.

They clapped with joy at first steps, school performances, little league games and academic achievements ~ both large and small.

They combed and braided hair, folded laundry, and buttoned shirts.

They have touched shoulders, waved in greeting, and pushed in playful gestures.

These hands waved goodbye as each one of my children left to find their way in this world and softly wiped the tears off my own face as I smiled.

They fold in prayer daily.

My hands are an extension of my heart.

“For all the things my hands have held the best by far is you” 

Andrew McMahon, Lyrics from Cecilia and the Satellite, July 2014.

Regret?

It is one thing to regret something you did or something you said that you probably shouldn’t have.

But what about something you should have done ~ but didn’t?

I am not referring to the failed opportunities you were given when you could not quite hit the mark.

Or the countless times you heard “No”.

At least you put yourself out there and in the end, it just might have made you a stronger, better person. No need to feel regret in these circumstances.

I am referring to the opportunity you did not take, or a relationship you did not nurture, or not realizing just how beautiful you really are.

One of my regrets is an opportunity I did not take.

I wish I had told my parents how much I appreciated them.  I wish I could have said thank you for the great life they gave me.

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My parents when they were courting!

Towards the end of my parents’ lives, I began to think about the things I longed to say to them. For example, how much I appreciated their encouragement and support with decisions I made from deciding to get bangs cut when I was a preteen to raising my children as a young mother.

Their strong faith, deep love for each other, and a shared sense of humor filled me with admiration. I wish they had known how proud I was to introduce them to my friends!

I fondly recall many moments of joyous teasing, conversations around the dinner table, and listening to my dad telling jokes. Everyone loved them and was drawn to their gentle and humble natures.

One day, a few years before they died, I decided I would go over to their house and let my heart talk.  But as I sat there I found myself getting “choked up” just “thinking” about the words I wanted to say.

I knew my voice would crack with emotion and the tears would stream down my face as I struggled to get the words out.  I was worried it would upset them to see me cry.  Would they interrupt me and say they did what they did because they loved me, and my thanks was not necessary forcing me to stop before I was finished? If I actually could speak clearly, would I remember every single thing I wanted to say?

Unfortunately, I concerned myself with these obstacles for so long that I ran out of time.

I know how much they would have appreciated those words of love and thanks.  What parent wouldn’t?

I did get the opportunity to say a few things to my mom as she lay dying, but I am not sure if she even heard or understood. I would like to think she did.

I know they knew I loved them.  We said those words often to each other.

I just hope they knew how very much.

Now my question is, who else do I long to say the words I keep in my heart?  There are quite a few and I intend to get started.

“I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say…..
I just wish I could have told him in the living years”   – Songwriters: B.A. Robertson / Mike Rutherford (gb)  Mike & the Mechanics, 1988

Summer Blessing

“Good Morning Mimi” “Good Morning Chunks”

Precious words uttered with a smile by my 5 year old grandson every morning as he walked down the stairs and planted a sweet kiss on his baby sister’s adorable cheeks. Oh how I miss hearing his sweet voice each morning!

A new granddaughter joined our family a few months ago and I am so in love!
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I had the unique opportunity to spend most of the summer with my daughter and her family.  The experience of having a peek in to their day to day lives and forming a closer bond was such a blessing.

The energy level of five children in the home is constant. Daily swim practice, bed time stories read aloud, the glorious sound of children’s laughter, out door play, board games, and snuggles on the couch was paradise! We even enjoyed s’mores around the fire pit one evening in spite of the heat! I treasured every moment.

As Lois Wyse wrote, “If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I’d have had them first.”

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A Southern Jewel

I am talking about Amelia Island.

We were in search of a weekend getaway before I start back to school. After finding a nice little place to stay on short notice and considering we had never been here before it seemed like a good choice.

Yes, it was plenty hot, but we sought refuge either poolside or in the cool shade provided by the beautiful oak trees that surrounded our property.  A good beach book and a cool drink was all we needed during the hottest part of the day.

We also enjoyed exploring the island during the day and saw The Ritz Carlton and the Omni Plantation have beautiful locations on this small island.  There appears to be five golf courses as well.  Amelia Island is only 13 miles long and 4 miles wide.

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Most of the streets, on the part of the island where we stayed, were shaded and cooled by majestic oak trees.

 

      Morning walks on the beach along the Atlantic Ocean was a wonderful way to start our day!

We spent two of our three evenings in the charming and very walkable downtown area of Fernandina Beach. We browsed in unique upscale shops, dined on delicious seafood and was treated to live music each evening at the Green Turtle Tavern.

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On Saturday morning we wandered through a local farmer’s market.  The atmosphere was pleasant as the crowd mingled to the eclectic sounds of a guitar player. A local resident would often steal the show as he played bluesy tunes on his harmonica. Vendors proudly displayed fresh baked goods, homemade jewelry, lots of fresh vegetables, homemade jelly and marinades, gorgeous fresh flowers, and other whimsical items to highlight a few of the booths here.

 

We could not resist this lovely plant and carefully brought it home with us in the car! It survived the long car ride home and now our fingers are crossed it will continue to thrive in our soil.

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The lack of crowds and traffic usually found in beach destinations this time of year was a huge hit for us.  We enjoyed our time in this lovely area of the south and so glad we visited!

Blessings in the Making

Blessings arrive in many forms.  Some are easy to recognize and are happily accepted.  For example, the birth of a healthy and extremely wanted baby or the marriage of two people who are very much in love.  Other blessings are disguised and hard to recognize. Our desire to initially reject them is strong.  For example losing a job or fighting an addiction.

As I age, I realize more and more that a “blessed life” doesn’t always mean an easy life. Society’s view of a “blessed” life can be unrealistic and make some of us feel like we are falling below the bar…..and blessings are so much more than this.

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I’ve had days (and even years) when life just didn’t seem to be going my way.  Heartbreak, disappointment, and stress have all tempted me to lose hope.

Thanks to the internet I began to discover the talented writing of some incredible people sharing their private moments.  I have read stories of joy, stories which include photos of nature’s beauty, and stories of the love of family and friends.  Truly these are blessings that are easy to recognize and accept.

Then there are stories of emotional or physical abuse, alcohol addiction, and unresolved issues which are all discussed with passion as well as cries for understanding, forgiveness, acceptance, and healing.  Some of these stories have happy endings. A few of the writers have arrived at a place of peace in spite of the incredible pain they have endured.  Some have been granted the “serenity to accept the things they cannot change.”  Some have realized that they have been given the opportunity to experience a blessing in the making.

I occasionally read a blog written by a young mother who has a special needs child. During her pregnancy she often wrote about her joy as she waited for the day her child would be born.  She also compassionately wrote of the agonizing moment shortly after giving birth when she was told of the struggles that lie ahead.  She speaks very candidly about her child (who is now about 10 years old) ~ the heartbreaks, the joyful moments found in the small things, and how much she has learned through her precious child.

Another blog I follow is written by a woman whose husband is declining due to Alzheimer.  She writes of her journey as she learns how to cope with this dreadful disease.  I so admire her determination to rise to this challenge and how she looks for and appreciates the joy she and her husband can still find in life.

Yet another blog I follow is written by a person who is battling alcohol addiction.  Her moving stories of success and failure as she trudges through relapses, or speaks of the negative and positive changes in her life as a result of her choices, yet her faith stays strong.  She speaks of the people from all walks of life she has met through this journey and how they have helped each other.

Yes, the journey’s of each of these women are incredibly tough, but the deep love, the huge amount of inner strength they probably never knew they had, and joy they have found within themselves as well as in and through others are blessings that are continually in the making.

Making the choice to seek the presence of Christ among the trials instead of giving in to the temptation to grumble and sigh help me (in God’s perfect timing) meet the challenges I encounter in my life. I seek clarity where there is obscurity and strength where there is weakness. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to watch You turn trials into (sometimes unexpected) blessings!

Psalm 9:1 – “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart.”

Isaiah 43:2 – “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Pay it Forward

Once a week, during the school year, I treat myself to a special coffee or a pastry. Starbucks is one of the places I occasionally visit.  This morning at the drive thru I asked the barista if I could also pay for the order of the person behind me. He smiled and happily said, “Of course!”

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As I pulled away I glanced in my rear view mirror and hoped, that in that small way, I made someone’s day a little better.

Has it ever crossed your mind that we really do have the power to make a difference? 

Can it really be as simple as following our hearts, taking action, and paying it forward?

We may choose to blow off the ideas that come to our minds because we think they’re silly or they won’t matter, so why bother? Every time we rationalize away an idea, someone loses.

Life can get tough, it is not always fair, and people are not always nice.  All it takes is a cross word or action from someone and my day can suddenly go from good to miserable.

When people feel good, they tend to do good. As people do good to others, chances are the receivers will also do good to others. This then creates a cycle of kindness and charitable acts.pay-it-forward216No matter how small, I believe each act has the power to turn someone’s day around for the better.