A Simple Way To Discover Your Passion


As most of you know, I entered both of my blogs (The Romantic Vineyard) in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I was crazy to think I could keep up with it, especially since we were away for two weeks smack in the middle of April. But I did manage 22 posts on this blog! 22!!! That’s quite a feat when you consider I’ve only had a total of 45 posts since August of last year. I’ve doubled in a month what has taken me 7 months to write previously. I also posted 26 on TRV for a total of 48 posts in one month. So I’m extremely happy. 🙂

But what I’m happiest about is those who have joined my author blog as a result. I feel as though I’ve received an Oscar and I have a list of thank you’s:

  • Thank you for stopping by.
  • Thank you for signing up to receive my posts via e-mail.
  • Thank you for buying and reading my book.
  • Thank you for caring to learn more about your own family history.
  • And thank you for helping me find my author blog voice and direction, a new experience for me.

Through it all I’ve discovered a new passion I didn’t realize had been born in my heart. It’s to help others discover the stories in their family history and to share what they’ve learned with me and their extended family.

I’ve heard it said that if you want to know what you’re passionate about, ask your children.

Would what they perceive match your answer? One dad I know said his children answered, “You’re cholesterol.” Ha! He didn’t realize how often he read the labels on everything he ate, and how much he talked about how high his levels were. I don’t think he would have ever said he was passionate about it, but he was. Anything that receives our daily attention is most likely an indicator of a passion. Simply put…we do the things we want to do and tend to put off the things we don’t.

This leads me to my next question for you to ask an older member of your family–or to answer and share with your own grandchildren.

Question #22

What are you most passionate about now? How about when you were younger? Has it changed? If so, why?


Letting Go Of Temporary Blessings

Mom's house

Today my Mom’s house will be sold to a new family. Since she died in December this was the first priority on our list. It is good that we were able to sell it so quickly, but I’m sad. She bought this house after my dad died so she could be closer to us. She was only there a few short years, but it served its purpose during that time.

Mom loved her backyard. She enjoyed watching the birds and squirrels from her bedroom window as they fluttered and scampered about the yard.

She loved when we would come to visit. I wish I could visit her one more time. But I can’t for that season is now part of my history. A story to be told to my grandchildren and their children. My oldest grandchildren will remember her, but the youngest ones won’t. It will be necessary to keep her memory alive by the stories we share about her.

My own children never met my grandmother, Grace. But they feel like they knew her because I’ve talked about her so much.

I’ve heard it said that four generations after  you will most likely know nothing about your life and loves. Really?! After living a long, productive life only 80 years after your death and no one will even remember? That seems so futile.

But is it really?

I don’t believe it is, because God has said He ordained every day planned for us before one of them came to pass. If He took care to plan each day, then even though others may not remember them, He certainly will. It’s important for us to live our lives in a way that matters for eternity, not wasting our time on temporary things. My Mom spent her life on things that mattered. She enjoyed the temporary blessings like houses and such, but she didn’t build her life around them. She prayed for her family every day. She listened to those in need and did whatever was in her power to help. She didn’t waste her time in self-pity, but she sought to better her life by constantly learning and growing. And she did this until her dying day.

I’m sorry this post has turned into a bit of a ramble, but that’s about all I have to give today. I’m sad, and I needed to express it by writing my thoughts and sharing them here.

Do you know the story of your great-great-great grandparents? If so, won’t you share a bit with me? It would sure encourage me on this day when I’m letting go of something, a temporary blessing, that once held a special place in my heart. 

Touchstones of the Heart

You've got mail bookstore

Touchstones are the parts of movies, books or songs that strike a chord in our lives to which we can relate. This is why we have favorites.

My favorite movie is You’ve Got Mail because I can relate to Kathleen Kelly in so many ways.

  • She has a little bookstore where the people have shopped for years. They loved her mother and the way she entered into the lives of her customers. (My parents had a drug store where they entered into the lives of their customers with compassion and care.)
  • She love books and writing. (I love books and writing!)
  • She was fascinated by the ability to connect with people on the internet she had never met in person. (I marvel at this as well.)

These are just a few of my favorite parts. 🙂

This leads to my next question…

Question #20 – What books, movies or songs provide touchstones to your life? What are the connections?

Be Careful What You Wish For


The weather is quite volatile today. As I’m typing the wind is howling through a cracked window; it sounds like an effect in a scary movie.

It got me to thinking of the storms I’ve experienced in my life. Back in 2004 when Hurricane Charley plowed across the entire state, I happened to be at a conference in Maryland and missed the whole storm. When I got home I was shocked to see the damage it had inflicted on our neighborhood. Tom rallied with neighbors to help clear the roads. But what’s funny is my reaction to the whole thing.

The last big hurricane to hit our area was in 1960 when Hurricane Donna hit Cuba and then made a bee line north damaging much of Florida. I was only one, but I remember bits and pieces of the storm because of its impact on our neighborhood.

I am a native from Orlando so whenever something big happens I want to experience it too. When I missed Charley I felt a strange since of disappointment. Two weeks later I was able to experience what I’d missed – Hurricane Fran hit Orlando, only to be followed by Ivan and Jeanne in two week increments! I finally said, “Enough already!”

Tom jokingly says that I got my wish! Yeah, I sure did! I felt bad for even expressing a desire to go through a hurricane. This must have been how the Israelites felt when God granted their wish for meat. They had so much quail it made them sick! We must be careful what we wish for.

This leads to my next question:

Question #19 – What severe storms have you experienced? How did it impact where you lived?

History Written In Blood

Photo Credit: gizmodo.com

Photo Credit: gizmodo.com

Most children think history is boring. And sadly many adults grow up never realizing the treasure it is to know your family’s part in history.

Take the tragic bombing that happened in Boston on Monday. None of us will forget the horror, the brutality of that one decisive act by an individual to harm many during a momentous time in their lives–running or watching the Boston Marathon.

Fast forward a few decades when this very week is being taught in high school history classes everywhere. Sixteen-year olds are barely staying awake as the teacher tries to teach about what we have just witnessed. To them it will be only words on a page, but to us the words have been written by the blood of those who were injured or died. It is a sad day for us now, and for those in the future who won’t care.

This is why I’m doing what I do. One small blog post at a time, hopefully sounding the alarm that history is HIS story. God has planned for each of us to live when we have and to witness what we do. How we tell the stories of our lives may be retold if we are willing to help our children and grandchildren care about them. We must stay engaged in life as long as we have breath for life is too precious to waste away.

Question # 18: How have you helped your children and grandchildren know your story? How have you sought out your elders to know their stories? Do you regret not doing it more often? Why?


This is post #18 in the challenge to post everyday in April.


Like-Minded Cousins


Yesterday we had the privilege of visiting my cousin and her husband’s home for dinner in Ashe County, NC. We arrived early so we could have as much time together as possible. I admired her gardening ability, something we both enjoy doing that was passed down from our grandmother, Grace.

We worked on cutting and chopping for dinner all the while talking about various sorts of things. I happened to notice a beautiful pewter tea pot on her sideboard. When I asked her where she got it, guess what? It had a story! 🙂


She opened the lid to read a note she had taped to the inside. It was a wedding present given to her maternal grandparents back in the 1800’s. The tea pot looked brand new, but in reality it was one of the oldest things in the house. Note: the couple in the framed picture is my parents on their wedding day.

As we were about to eat, she took the chicken out of the oven that had been baking in this old, clay pot. She told me it was nearly 200 years old and had been passed down from generation to generation and was still “cooking,” literally! We talked about how amazing it would be to know all the meals that had been cooked in that clay oven. The chicken was moist and delicious, as was the entire meal.

Sometimes you can’t improve on the old way of doing things.


My cousin is a great cook!

Question #17

What is the oldest family possession you own, and what is the story behind it?


This is post #17 in the challenge to post everyday in April.


Living Today, Tomorrow’s History Of The Boston Marathon

Photo Credit: dailybail.com

Photo Credit: dailybail.com

Today we were witnesses of a horrible attack on the innocent bystanders of the Boston Marathon. As I’m typing this they are still working frantically to help the victims, search for clues and hopefully find those responsible. No doubt we will all remember this day. We’ll remember where we were when we found out. If we had loved ones or friends in Boston today, we’ll never forget waiting to hear whether or not they were hurt. It is a sad day.

Eyewitnesses are being interviewed non-stop by every media outlet in Boston. They provide important clues about this tragedy in a way no one else can because they saw things from their vantage point maybe no one else did. It is hard to listen, but we’re riveted. We keep watching, praying and hoping the world isn’t as bad as it seems. But it is.

Tragedies define us as a nation and as individuals. We become a product of the events we’ve experienced and for the rest of our lives we’ll reflect back on what our eyes have seen.

This provides us an important question to ask your elder family members:

Question #16 – What national tragedies have you lived through and what ones, if any have you witnessed yourself? Where were you at the time, and how did it affect your worldview?


This is post #16 in the challenge to post everyday in April.


The Mandatory Celebration of Tax Day’s 100th Birthday

Photo Credit: 123greetings.com

Photo Credit: 123greetings.com

Birthdays are a day to look back a remember. But they’re also a time to look forward to the year ahead. In America we celebrate by honoring the person with parties, balloons, cake, ice cream and usually lots of presents. Children enjoy their birthdays more than anyone else, and always anticipate what theme they’ll have at their next party. It is a fun and festive tradition.

But sometimes birthdays aren’t welcome. People hate the thought of growing older and anything that reminds them of the passing of time. I’m not one who succumbs to this way of thinking because I happen to enjoy the gift of life I’ve been given. Each year stands as a testimony of the faithfulness of God in my life. And I see this as a real reason to celebrate!

Today is a birthday of sorts, and it’s one most every American dreads.

It’s the 100th anniversary of the day our annual income taxes are due. There will be no cake, no presents and certainly no theme. This party requires everyone to send presents, even those who choose not to celebrate. 😦 Certainly not a party to look forward to.

But are you familiar with the history of Tax Day?

The idea of it began in the early 1800’s:

Tax Chart

The nation had few taxes in its early history. From 1791 to 1802, the United States government was supported by internal taxes on distilled spirits, carriages, refined sugar, tobacco and snuff, property sold at auction, corporate bonds, and slaves. The high cost of the War of 1812 brought about the nation’s first sales taxes on gold, silverware, jewelry, and watches. In 1817, however, Congress did away with all internal taxes, relying on tariffs on imported goods to provide sufficient funds for running the government.

In 1862, in order to support the Civil War effort, Congress enacted the nation’s first income tax law. It was a forerunner of our modern income tax in that it was based on the principles of graduated, or progressive, taxation and of withholding income at the source. During the Civil War, a person earning from $600 to $10,000 per year paid tax at the rate of 3%. Those with incomes of more than $10,000 paid taxes at a higher rate. Additional sales and excise taxes were added, and an “inheritance” tax also made its debut. In 1866, internal revenue collections reached their highest point in the nation’s 90-year history—more than $310 million, an amount not reached again until 1911.

In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system. The amendment gave Congress legal authority to tax income and resulted in a revenue law that taxed incomes of both individuals and corporations.

Read more: History of the Income Tax in the United States | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005921.html#ixzz2QWzk4q2B

Taxes are a necessary part of running a government well. And this leads me to today’s question:

Question #15: Have you ever discussed what paying taxes were like in your grandparent’s day? Do they remember anything in particular that they have never mentioned?

Chart Source: http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com

The Story Old Photos Speak


My husband and I love to travel, especially road trips. There’s something about being in the car that stirs conversation in a way just sitting at a table or couch doesn’t do. Maybe it’s just us, but I don’t think so.

I remember my parents’ talking about taking a road trip with my grandparents back in the late 40’s. They traveled west and saw all kinds of amazing places: the Petrified Forest, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the Great Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite to name a few. It was a memorable trip. My Mom and Dad are no longer with us, so I can’t ask them any questions about their time together. But in going through their home to get ready to sell, I found lots of photos from that trip. The color has turned sepia without any effects from Instagram! Time has settled upon the photos giving them a nostalgic look on this trip of their lifetime.

The sad part is I can no longer ask my Mom about specific things in the pictures. She would know the story behind every photo, but I don’t. The pictures mean nothing to me, but to her they were the connection to wonderful memories from her past.

Everyone most likely has similar memories and probably the photos to go with them. But we don’t take the time to let our elders talk about them…

This brings me to Question #14–

What photos do you have from trips you enjoyed long ago? Of all the

places you’ve been, which place was your favorite and why?



This is post #14 in the challenge to post everyday in April.


Whole Latta Fun

latta plantation

We spent the day today touring an old southern plantation in Charlotte, N.C. — The Latta Plantation, to be specific. It wasn’t all that impressive by today’s standards, but in the early 1800’s it was quite the spread. We saw an old covered wagon, a chicken coop, a few horses, a mule and donkey, a couple of pigs, the kitchen and well-house and of course, the main house. I loved walking through imagining what life was like for them then. Probably the worst part for me would have been wearing those long skirts and long-sleeves with no air-conditioning. Yeah, I’m spoiled.

So much of what they did on a farm was to sustain life. They had to grow their own food or they would die. They had to care for their animals or they wouldn’t have milk, eggs or fresh meat. It was a hard life without the many conveniences we take for granted. You would think with all the extra time we have that our quality of life would be so much better. But it isn’t. Somehow I think we are more distracted which prevents us from focusing on the things of most importance.

Question #12 – Do you know what your grandparent’s did for a living? Did they farm their own land? Or did they live in the city?

My grandfather was a citrus farmer. He had 32 acres of groves here in Florida, and they were still a part of our family until the freezes of the early 80’s wiped them out. That was a sad time in our family. My parents replanted one grove, but even that one only lasted a couple of decades. The land became too valuable to keep as farm land. My Mom sold it to a developer in the family. 😦 Sadly, there aren’t any groves left for us to go tour like we did today. I can’t take my grandchildren to the family homestead in order for them to see what life was like for their great-great-grandparents. All they can have is the stories I share, which is why knowing it and telling it often is so important.

How are you doing with the questions each day? Are you making the time to ask someone in your family? What things have you discovered? I would love to hear…


This is post #13 in the challenge to post everyday in April.