Tuesday, July 3, 2018

An Anniversary

Some years fly by. 

Some anniversaries are back in a flash.

Not this one. 

I've felt every single measuring unit of this year. 

July 3rd, 2018 marks one year since the fire. 

Coming home from a visit with my mom in California, I opened the door to our Floyd home. 

 My throat and nose filled with the stench of thick smoke. 

I wasn't even sure what I was looking at. I shut the door quickly then opened it again to try and make sense of the what I saw. 

A huge hole in the floor where the ceiling fan fell through. Everything was a charred mess. 

We had been robbed, and the house set afire. 

I woke slowly this morning, thoughts dulled until the memory dawned. 

It's been a year. 

I let the memories come while still in a cocoon of blankets. 

"My joy has flown away:
grief has settled on me. 
My heart is sick"~ Jeremiah 8:18

My heart was sick. 

From the same bed, I text a friend to tell her what happened. 

She replied:

"I'm coming to you right now." 

And she did. 

Many people came alongside my family during that time.

Reminding me that Hope comes alongside seasons of despair. 

"We can be mended, and we mend each other."

Today, I remind myself:

Life is full of unwelcome events. 

Life is under no obligation to edit out all the rough patches. 

Hope is a vital part of life, and it really doesn't take a huge amount! It's kin to faith and only takes a mustard seed portion to be effective. 

I am never alone. 

My God is El Roi. "The God who sees me."

I have counted my losses and saved the memories. 

 And Hope whispers: "The story isn't over.."

A year later, I am feeling a little more freed up from grief. 

Thank you for letting me share this anniversary with you, dear readers. 

Let freedom ring.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Dear 2018

Dear 2018,


I don't think I have ever wanted to see a year end as much as I did 2017.

2017, you were full of yourself.

 Full of challenges, health issues, loss and heartbreak.

 2017, while we are still on speaking terms I want you to know I've come to appreciate the lessons you taught.

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer"~ Zora Neale Hurston

2017, you left me asking a lot of questions. Mostly the Why questions as many people do when misfortune arrives (totally uninvited) in their lives.

It's not a useless question, it's just that they don't matter. That's when you shake hands with acceptance. It's fertile ground where you learn new strategies for living in a world that continues to move on in spite of your loss.

2017, the most beautiful lesson I learned living with you for the past year was personally experiencing the Lord's grand exchange of "beauty for ashes."

It's a real thing.

When you scoop up the rubble and ashes of your life and hand them over to the God of the Universe, He takes the ashes~ and in exchange, He presents you with the making of an exquisite bouquet.  One stem at a time. It's as humbling and heartwarming as a child who presents you with a dandelion "picked just for you!"

My bouquet is getting quite full now.

My vessel doesn't feel so empty.

It's quite an artistic arrangement! Build from the sacred work of loving family members, friends and co-workers who echoed and reminded me of God's love and care.

Thanks for that 2017.

2018, don't think you are getting off easy just because 2017 is such an easy act to follow!

I do have certain expectations of you.

We can  work together.

Lets see what beauty we can create.

"And now let us welcome the New Year full of things that have never been."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A New Move

Aidan has lived in my home since the day he was born. Recently, we found a house that's handicap accessible and he lives there now with his mom and dad. Aidan loves his new house! I miss seeing his sweet face in the morning and hearing his laugh echo throughout the house. It makes my time with him seem even more special. Like the little adventure we had today:) 
Spending time with Aidan helps me to slow down and to detach myself from petty issues which I have no business entertaining. 

Everyone involve with the care of Aidan is stretched in endurance and it can produce a bone-tired fatigue. But there's no quitting. It's a situation where the dream isn't the reality but, you make peace with it. Hemingway said: "The world breaks everyone" That's what a diagnosis does to a family - and it becomes a slow nightfall of acceptance. The milestones are A-typical but you rejoice in the little things! With feet firmly planted in mid-air...you live between trials and faith. Underneath it all, Love is there. And Love speaks clearly enough. 

Happy new home, Aidan! I love you.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

What I Know About Prayer

What I know about prayer:

Not much.

But I know enough to be a believer.

I have a visual image of prayer:

 I speak it out.

Sometimes, I give it a little push.

I blow on it.

Just a little puff...like a
breath on a birthday wish or a dandelion.

I visualize it rising.

We have lift off!

 I imagine it sprouting little wings..

It's like mailing a package, really.

"Is it fragile?"

Yes, this ones' fragile.

"How soon do you need it to get there?" 

As soon as possible. 

Priority  prayer..

"Does this prayer contain any liquids?"

Possibly a few tears..

"Would you like to buy insurance?" 

The prayer itself is my assurance. 

 I do my part: The asking.

It seems to be set up this way.

The formal request.

Also known as: "The initial request"

Because some prayers need repeating/resending.

I don't mind the standing in line...or the waiting.

A lot of folks are mailing off prayers...

And, I've done my part..

"Tracking on this?"

You mean I can keep checking on it? 

No, that sounds like worry.

Worry is like adding too much tape to a package.

Adding layers you don't really need-making it impossible to open.

 A sticky situation..

No, I trust its course.

I've known this address for decades now.

The Lord and I sealed the deal.

His stamp of approval on questionable contents...

"Would you like conformation on this?" 

Oh yes, please..

In the form of an answer please.

And when I receive a letter in return,

I make sure I send off my thank you note.

It's the etiquette of the universe.:)


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Onyx.The Big Black Dog.

A wild beast lives in my house.
I'm not sure how it happened.
Something about a "Puppy" and we can "Train it."

I'm waiting for that last line to manifest itself...

Onyx is so big and so strong, I often forget he is still a puppy
His year is running out.
He better start "Adulting" soon.

He runs down the hall in the morning to greet me.
Because he misses me..
and he loves me....
and I'm the only one awake.

I trip over him.
I continue on my hands and knees into the kitchen.
No rain of drool
Or dog hair mess
Shall keep me from my coffee press!

He bolts into my room in the middle of the night.
Because he misses me..
and he loves me...
and I'm the only one awake.
(Now that he's on my head)

Maybe this is his teenager stage and prefers his fun in the middle of the night.

I don't know...but it's annoying.

So is his cigar smoking.

Or whatever that smell is...

Onyx is a labrador retreiver.

Look..he's retrieving my bra.

I say "drop it!"

He stares me down.

I say "come here!"

That's him leaving with said item...

He chews my pot holders and kitchen towels.

There's not a pice of furniture (fabric or wood) he hasn't tried to eat.

I guess you can say we share the same taste in decor..

He eats my underwear.
In need of confession and in an act of repentance and restitution, he returns them to me.
In the form of vomit.

One night I made Aidan cry.
He cried because I yelled at Onyx
For a long time..
And then I yelled again.

Aidan looked at me in disgust.

I said: "But, he ate my shoe!"
"Aidan, HE ATE MY SHOE!"

Sometimes I don't even think I like this dog.

But then there's this:

And I almost forgive him..

Monday, January 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, Aidan

Happy 9th birthday, Aidan Lee Thomas!

This is your birthday picture!
You were only a few hours old.
We were just getting aquatinted!
Saying your name out loud...
Telling you how happy we were to finally meet you and how much we loved you!
We kissed your nose.
Passed you around and counted your fingers and toes.

A perfect little boy.
Perfect in a different way.

We didn't know at this moment what nine years later would look like.

It would be a different dream, on a different path.
There were slow starts.
Words that never came.
The silence was confusing. Frightening. Heartbreaking.

And then a diagnosis that makes you question the depths of your faith.
Unwanted but, at least we knew.
It was a starting place.
No time to escape into the luxury of denial.
Not when reality was staring us down.

So, here are some things you do:
You invite the truth in.
You entered a dark place..but your eyes adjust.

You guard your optimism.
You leverage your faith over your fears.
You live outside your own heart.
You experience a fatigue you have never known before.

There are doctors visits and hospital stays .
This treatment.
That pill.
A new and complicated diet.
It seemed at times that we were chasing our own tails.


There was progress, then two steps back.
Bargaining with God and prayer requests.
Healing services and heart cries poured out on paper.

Stress tries to scoop you out from the inside leaving you hollow.
Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day.
Some days are just too long.

You see the world continue on while yours gets smaller and more isolated.
But that's okay because you're too tired to try to keep up anyway.
Help shows up in a different shape and form than one might expect.
It fills you up again..

Because the fight is on.

The motivation comes from Aidan himself.

You learn things about yourself, such as:
Dispare and hope can coexist in the same heart.

You hear yourself saying things that aren't exactly true:
"He seems a little better.."
"We're fine"
"No, there's nothing you can do"
Because the sheer awkwardness and weight of the truth is too much to be told.

Your house starts to look like a hospital room.
Medical equipment and supplies are your new accessories.
Rugs are removed because wheels are the new legs..
Not exactly House Beautiful..
But that's ok..you'd be amazed at what you'll find beautiful.

We have goals for you Aidan.
A life worth living because your are cherished and lavishly loved.
We will never stop seeking a way to make your life better.

If heaven had warned us and said:
"This one may make your heart bleed and your eyes flood.
This one will bring you to your knees in a kind-of grief that "looks like weakness and feels like surrender." This one will meet physical barriers that will not allow him to be fully included in society.
This one may be prejudge and exclude. This one will need extra care. There will be very little sleep.
You might feel alone...but you are never alone."

Our answer would have been "yes."

Do you ever hear a secular song and receive it as a prayer?

This one has always felt that way:

"When the night has come and the land is dark and the moon is the only light we see.
No, I won't be afraid. No I won't be afraid..as long as you stand by me."

So, this is what it looks like 9 years later..
Happy Birthday, Aidan..We love you!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Seasons of Life

Autumn has arrived! 

Does it seem to you that it happens suddenly? Incrementally AND suddenly? 
You get into your car and start to drive and all at once you're in the midst of vibrant ruby reds and deep orange bursts of color? 

That's my experience every year and I always have the same Steve Jobs reaction: 

When Fall makes her appearance on the East Coast, there is no mistaking her.

 She creates a Cinderella entrance and after living in Virginia for 33 years, her beauty still takes my breath away. 

She brings crisp, prepare-something-pumpkin-kind-of-weather. (and let me get my scarf on first..) I want something warm in my mug and develop a desire to participate in random acts of pastry.

I wish she would stay longer..but like Cinderella she has a curfew. A set exit strategy and she seems in a bit of a hurry to leave!

In her rush, Cinderella left a shoe behind. Fall leaves the party half naked! And makes a mess while she's at it! Dropping her leaves everywhere like a woman trying to decide what to wear and before she knows it - the entire contents of her closet is scattered all over her bed. 

Or so I've heard...

Then someone (hopefully one of the much younger people living in my home) will have to pick up after her. 

Raking up whatever is leftover from her Haute Couture Fall Collection...

Then it's haste la vista, baby! Make room for Old Man Winter and his famous work of art titled: Whiteout. 

He's a no frills kind-of guy and if he's not too grumpy he might let us keep our electricity..

Fall also graciously hosts my granddaughters birthday! You can clearly see how old she is:) 

She learned this for her big day! 

"How old are you, Penny?" And up pops her two bunny ear fingers..

"I'm two!" 

Aw....I'm loving this season of life with grandchildren. We learn a lot from each other! Like a recent lesson learned with Penny in the grocery store. We we standing in line and she was very intently looking up at me and sort of flapping her mouth open and shut and performing an awkward chewing motion. It was a cross between a snapping turtle and a cow chewing cud. 

It was bazaar looking and I was trying to figure out what the heck she was doing (and if I needed to call 911...) and then I realized she was mimicking me....chewing my gum. 

I no longer chew gum...

Humbling lessons learned in a check out line from a (bunny fingers up!) two year old:)

When Aidan was a toddler he would tiptoe into my bedroom early in the morning and climb into bed and make the sign for "book" which meant he wanted me to tell him a story. 

For some reason, Aidan liked to touch my face when I read. Over time he would touch a certain spot on my face with one finger. 

I'd like to say it was a freckle. 

Freckle is a cute word. 

But alas, it is an age spot. 

Not a very cute word. 

It's about as cute as the word 


So, I decided to call it my ..

"Not Freckle" 

My Not Freckle is below my left eye, and there his finger would rest as I read or told a story.

I'm a cud chewing spotted cow..

You have no idea about these sorts of things until you have grandchildren!

For many reasons my Not Freckle holds sweet memories for me and if I had the chance to have it lasered off, I wouldn't take it. 

I might for those other members of Not Freckles family who are definitely age spots and not cute at all. Squatters who have no permission to be on my personal property!

One of the precious things I love about my grandchildren are their laughs. 

Honestly, if I could bottle them up I'd have some kind of miracle cure, for sure. 

Maybe even the fountain of youth in a cream!

But I'd put it nowhere near my Not Freckle!

Not Freckle feels like Home.

"Children's children are a crown to the aged" ~ Proverbs 17: 6