Resolved

Graphic Credit: sendingsunshine.wordpress.com

Graphic Credit: sendingsunshine.wordpress.com

Today I am 54. 54! How did that happen? I know, I know, the answer is simple–one year at a time. But wow.

This is my first birthday without my Mom and Dad, who were used by God to give me life in July of 1959. My Dad led me down the aisle of our little baptist church in 1969. It is strange to no longer have parents here, but they’re not gone. They’ve just relocated to a better place. And because of God’s gift of salvation to me on December 19, 1969, I will see them again. Until that day I am resolved to live out the rest of my years in glorifying the One True God who gives life to all who call on His name and choose to follow Him.

Jonathan Edwards was considered to be one of the greatest American philosopher/theologians of his time and was a key figure in what has become known as The Great Awakening of the 18th century. He has been quoted as saying:

“Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

The Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman trial has received unbelievable media coverage this past month. We live only a few minutes from Sanford, FL. so it was with great interest that we stayed up with the trial. When that February night occurred in 2012, neither Trayvon nor George knew that their lives were going to be permanently changed as a result of the choices they made. My point isn’t to discuss which side was right/wrong, for both lost in my opinion. But their case stands as a stark reminder of Mr. Edwards quote. I ask myself,

  • Am I living today as if it were my last?
  • What do I want to be known for?
  • If my epitaph was to be written tomorrow, what would it say?
  • Better yet, what would I want it to say?

I heard someone suggest that we take time to write the epitaph we would want written about us today. Then, make our choices based on that goal. Of course, even those who have the best intentions can’t always guarantee their life will play out as planned. This is why my epitaph should reflect God’s work in my life and not my own plans.

A couple of great epitaphs include:

George Washington

LOOKING INTO THE PORTALS OF ETERNITY TEACHES THAT THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN IS INSPIRED BY GOD’S WORD; THEN ALL PREJUDICE OF RACE VANISHES AWAY.

Benjamin Franklin

The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer (like the cover of an old book, its
contents worn out, and stript of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for
worms. Yet the work itself shall not lost, for it will, as he
believed, appear once more In a new and more beautiful
edition, corrected and amended by its Author

Finally, I found this site that lists over a hundred great epitaphs from which to choose. Take some time and consider which one would best mark your final resting place. Then, live each day to make the statement true.

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. 

Exit 8

We’re on the road headed to NC for a two-week vacation. Our daughter and her family (who lives in another state) is also on vacation this week. We happened to be texting when we realized we were both coming to Hardeeville, SC, at the same time.

So…we made plans to meet at the McDonalds without telling the kids. Believe it or not we arrived within 5 minutes of each other, and it was totally unplanned.

The look on the kids’ faces was so worth it!! There’s nothing like the surprise greetings from children. Their hugs are tighter and their smiles so genuine.

I’m enjoying the afterglow of the brief time we had. I saw Stella’s three new teeth, Norah’s new kitty, Bradley’s sweet smile and Mommy and Daddy’s new wheels. It was a fun, memorable pit stop.

Question #12 – When was a time you remember surprising someone or being surprised yourself?

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A Slice Of [Mom’s] Life

Photo Credit: www.bbc.co.uk

Photo Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk

Today I want to share with you an article I wrote for our neighborhood newsletter in August of 2004 about a very special day. 

My Mom and I love going out to lunch together. We have done this almost every week since I got married over 25 years ago. One particular week she picked where we were to go, but first she wanted us to stop by an old friend’s house. Her name was Mary. She explained that Mary was a writer and knowing my desire to one day write a book about the life of my grandmother, she wanted us to meet. I was happy to go, but not sure about meeting her friend. Sometimes arranged meetings such as this don’t go over the way intended. I had no idea what was about to happen.

My Mom grew up in Clermont, a bedroom community to the west of Orlando, where everyone knows everyone else. Even though this town is changing rapidly, somehow Mary’s house had avoided any change. As we pulled into her dirt driveway, I felt as though I was leaving the year 2004 behind. Suddenly, I found myself entering a strange new, but old world–my mother’s childhood. Mary met us at her squeaky screen door, which led us from her clapboard porch to a dimly lit paneled living room. There her husband stood, cane in hand, with a smile large enough to make any stranger feel like family. His handshake indicated confidence. I liked them both immediately.

Mary quickly led us up the wooden stairs to her office. As we sat among her treasures, books from every subject, age and size, I felt as if I was sitting inside her personal journal. In this room was Mary’s life, and she had gladly opened up her volumes to share with me her love for writing. I was deeply affected.

As I listened to two old friends reminisce, I realized that I was privileged to see my mom from a completely different perspective. Here sat, not my mom, but a little girl and her best friend talking of how they used to play in this very room. Mom mentioned how she would always run to this room first, because she loved the packed toy chest that used to sit below the window where Mary’s computer was now located. Her face revealed the joy this moment was bringing to her. Hearing them talk, I could actually see them in their childhood finding pleasure in the simple things of life. I was reminded of how quickly time passes. As they spoke of their lives 75 years ago, it was as if only days had passed, not decades.

I’m so glad I had this moment to glimpse into the past, for this is the stuff of which books are made. Mary helped me in my quest for capturing my grandmother’s story more than she’ll ever know; she introduced me to her youngest daughter, my mom.

Moments like these are rarely planned. They usually happen upon us when we least expect them, and we fail to remember all we heard because we weren’t giving the moment our full attention. I can remember this day with my mom as if it were yesterday. I never saw Mary and her husband again, so I am all the more grateful to God for giving me this time for Mom to show me a very special slice of her life.

This leads to our next question to ask an older member of your family:

Question #8 – Who was your closest childhood friend and what did you enjoy doing together?

Note: My mom’s friend is a famous writer of children’s books. Her name is Mary Rose Pearson, and you can check out her books HERE.

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This is post #8 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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Now That’s A Great Question

Photo Credit: Neodesha Chamber of Commerce

Photo Credit: Neodesha Chamber of Commerce

I am privileged to be taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday during the month of April. I must admit I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the thought, but I’m compelled to do it. I pray you will find my posts helpful as you take the time to discover your family’s story and hear a bit more about mine.

My goal is to provide a great question each day that you can use to ask your older family members, be it a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle. You can choose who to ask, hopefully it will be someone who has an interesting answer. Then, come back and share what you’ve discovered with us. It should be a fun and rewarding month as we purpose to uncover stories that may have never before been told.

Question #1

Where were you born, and what is your earliest memory?

oklahoma-landrush-1893My grandmother, Grace Stella Kirwin, was born in Neodesha, Kansas (pronounced Nee-oh’-deh-shay), located in the southeastern corner of the state, on March 2, 1889. Unfortunately, I can’t ask her what her earliest memory was, but I do know that when she was only 4 years old, her Uncle Charley took part in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893. He had a race horse named, Pigeon. I wish I knew why in the world he named his horse that–but one can only speculate. Not only was Pigeon a good horse, he was fast. Uncle Charley staked two claims of land for the family.

At precisely twelve noon on September 16, 1893 a cannon’s boom unleashed the largest land rush America ever saw. Carried by all kinds of transportation – horses, wagons, trains, bicycles or on foot – an estimated 100,000 raced to claim plots of land in an area of land in northern Oklahoma Territory known as the Cherokee Strip. There had been a number of previous land rushes in the Territory – but this was the big one. (Source: eyewitness to history website)

The claims ended up being in what is now called Noble County, Oklahoma. My Mom and I had the chance to visit the little town of Ceres, where we think the homestead was located.  It looks like their land is now owned by the power company and is underwater of a man-made lake.

So, what have you discovered about your relatives earliest memories? Won’t you join the conversation? 

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we came from.”

                                                                                                                   – Alex Haley
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We are taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.
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Scents of Life

Driving down the road the other day I caught the scent of orange blossoms in the air, and immediately my mind went to another time and place.  I was running through the groves at my grandmother’s home in Clermont hoping to avoid being hit by my brother’s usually perfect aim, with rotten oranges!  While many of you grew up enjoying snowball fights, I was caught in a messier version where the same rules applied.  Unfortunately, I was almost always on the losing team.  What triggered those memories was nothing more than the sweet smell of orange blossoms.

Florida State Flower

Florida State Flower

As I child, I loved coming into the house for dinner and smelling my mother’s wonderful cooking.  Somehow I didn’t realize then just how much thought and time went into her preparations each evening.  All I knew was that I loved the result. Unless, of course, she was fixing something I didn’t like!

How often are our thoughts affected by the smells we encounter during the day?  For example, where does your mind go when you smell hot, buttered popcorn, chicken frying, or roses in bloom?  I’m sure you have your own list of favorite scents.  Remember the smell of mimeograph copies?  (Those of you under the age of 30 probably won’t know what I’m talking about!) Nothing evokes the memories of life at my elementary school than this.

With spring in the air fresh scents abound.  I hope you will be able to get outside to enjoy God’s creation as it comes back to life from such a long, cold winter.  Me? I’m going to work on greeting my husband tonight with some delicious smells from the kitchen.  That’s the best aromatherapy you can’t buy in a bottle!

What are the scents of your life? What memories do they evoke?