Long-Distance Family

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing

Today is 24 days of posts in November. I’m amazed I’ve made it this far!

Nikki asked a really good question about celebrating the holidays.

“I have been thinking about the differences in holiday celebrations now compared to when I was a kid. Our family isn’t quite as close-knit — everyone in my generation has moved away whereas my parents lived near their parents so we could all gather for the holidays. Have you noticed the same in your family?”

In my generation most of us stayed close to our parents, so holidays were always a big event.

Our children all moved away after they were married. Some it took years and our last one moved when she got married. All three living in different states from us.

I never considered this would happen.

When our daughter moved to GA with two of our grandchildren ages almost 4 and almost 2 in nearly killed me. I didn’t see this coming and my heart was broken.

I had well-meaning friends who said things like, “At least you are close enough to drive there and see them.” This was like pouring salt in my wounded heart.

But God! He had other plans.

My hope was that our family would share life together. We would be available to babysit so our kids could cultivate their relationship in the throes of raising a family. Holidays would be challenging in how we would seat everyone around the same table.

First our daughter, son-in-love and two grandchildren moved to GA. in 2011.

A year later my Mom died in 2012, leaving me feeling orphaned since my Dad died 9 years earlier.

Second, our son moved to Tennessee for his dream job in 2014. He took his sweet wife and three more of my precious grandchildren with him. While I was happy for the dreams they were pursuing, my heart was broken for what could have been. It haunted me daily.

Then Disney came out with a new movie and a hit song that was played everywhere. It had the three words I kept hearing God say to me. “Let it go!” I was afraid to let go of my desire for fear that my kids would never move back.

Finally, when our youngest daughter got married and moved to yet another state in 2018, I was undone. Finally I knew I had to let go of what I had imagined life would be to let my kids have the freedom to follow their dreams. I needed to be their biggest fan, not their strongest antagonist!

This made all the difference.

I was able to let go and trust that God was leading our kids exactly where he wanted them to be.

Our holidays change from year to year. We have enjoyed times where we are all together, but more times than not, we’ve had to adjust our expectations and enjoy the ones who were able to be with us.

Most times we are the ones who travel to see them because our kids and grandkids are a priority to us, even if it’s not convenient. I love them and anytime we are able to spend together.

FaceTime is an almost daily occurrence, and for this I am so very thankful. I think often of my grandmother, Grace, who moved away from her family at 16 years of age. There was no telephone, no internet, no cars even. Miles separated them and the only communication took weeks to receive.

As I write this we are with one third of our family for Thanksgiving. The other two-thirds are spending Thanksgiving with their in-laws. We are choosing to focus on being present and enjoying what is, rather than being sad over what could have been.

But God! He is the only reason I’m able to say this.

We almost lost two grandchildren in the last two years, and I lost my brother this year. The distance that separates us doesn’t seem as significant now.

As my youngest daughter recently wrote about raising an infant with special needs, “Every day is thanksgiving, and even though I can still struggle with a heart of complaint. I pray my perspective is always pointed to what God has blessed me with rather than what I think He has taken away.”

Yes, Perspective. it makes all the difference in how we move forward from grieving what could have been to what we’ve been given.

This is my 24th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Prompted to Remember

(Photo from 1962, Silver Star Pharmacy)

I am a part of a writer’s group that provides a writing prompt once a week in order to help us keep the creative juices flowing. This past week’s prompt led me down an unexpected path. The following is the prompt and what I wrote in response.

Wednesday Writer’s Prompt:

What place, or kind of place, elicits fond memories of the past?

Opening the door was an entry to my childhood. A time capsule bursting open in celebration of what once was.

The soda fountain served guests a daily special prepared by our beloved cook, Flossie. She was like a grandmother to me, always making sure I had enough food in my belly to fuel my curiosity. The clattering of dishes passing through the triple sinks to wash, rinse and sanitize were the background music of life in my Dad’s Pharmacy.

The regular customers provided a cadence call of life in our small town, beckoning us to participate together in life’s difficult moments.

But the center of it all was my dad’s caring heart. Each customer knew they had a faithful friend who would sacrifice time with his family in order to provide for their needs in crisis. He listened to their laments and carried their concerns to God in prayer.

But that was then.

Sadness cloaks me with a familiar comfort. Gone are the customers, the needs, the community of friends who called my Dad “Doc”. Gone are the rich smells of comfort food served with a smile. Gone are the days of my childhood.

Yet the memories linger as I sign the paper ending an era. Soon this building will belong to someone new.

(Photo from 2017)

We will go our separate ways to live our dreams and provide for those to whom God has given us to care and provide.

Tomorrow’s memories are being written on the walls of today. Each day matters; make them count for eternity.

A Simple Way To Discover Your Passion

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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?

Roots Matter

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I’m going to take a break from a specific question today in order to talk about the larger picture of knowing your roots and why it’s so important.

I remember the first time I went to Oklahoma with my Mom back in 2000. I hadn’t been since I was little girl, and I barely remembered it. But this time it felt like home. It was the strangest thing to not know how to get anywhere, but once I did it seemed I had been there many times. Strangers seemed familiar. Restaurants served food I thought my mom had invented. I came to realize that much of who I am stemmed from this community that made my mom and grandmother who they were.

Roots matter, for the family tree is more about the roots than it is about the branches.

Where do your family roots come from? Do you know? Do you care? Oh, I beg you to care. There are stories waiting to be discovered that will encourage you, motivate you and help you understand more of the why’s of your parents’, grand-parents’ and great-grandparents’ decisions.

Starting on Sunday, April 21st, PBS is continuing a new series titled, Finding Your Roots. It will explore the world of immigrants to America and help them go back and uncover stories they have never known. It sounds fascinating! So much so, I want to share with you the following video that explains the motivation behind the series. Pay special attention to Martha Stewart’s interview–I love her heart for uncovering the stories of old.

What stories are hidden from your history waiting to be discovered?