Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stop a Moment

We've lost something along the way.  Fred is stressed about his job; I'm stressed about mine.  There is never enough time to get everything done. The girls are always busy with their school work, and since they work independently a good part of the time, we all go our separate ways. We don't play Wizard anymore and we don't have movie night and eat popcorn together. 

The other night I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.  The girls were in their rooms and Fred was on the couch watching TV.  Then I heard it--these pure, beautiful voices singing Amazing Grace.  I dried my hands and went to see who it was.  Celtic Thunder!  Our old favorite group!  Forget the dishes.  I sat down with Fred.  It was a PBS fundraising special, but the featured performers were Celtic Thunder doing a Christmas program.  We called  the girls and they ran in when they heard the music.  Then there we were, all four of us cuddled together, enjoying the singing just like we used to do.  This was such a gift.  We've missed these times.  We can't let them go by the wayside again.  In fact, in another hour we're going to pile on the quilts on this cold night and watch the old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cartoon once again--all together. 

Now stop and listen to the video I found on youtube.  You will be blessed.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Celebration of Family

Thanksgiving is fast approaching; more birthdays have come and gone as the children are now another year older.  Arielle will soon be sixteen.  People always say, "Where did the time go?"  Regrettably, I must say, much of it has been squandered and wasted or else I have rushed through the days with the only goal of completing all I had to do.  I've lost many years that way, longing for the day to end just so I could go to bed.  We'll soon be gone, all of us.  We'll be just a memory for a couple of generations and then we'll be gone forever as if we'd never lived.  There won't be anyone left who even knew us!  I leave behind these words that may never be read, and I leave my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I hope a few will carry into the future the hope of the gospel.  The word of the Lord and the souls of people--those are the only things that last forever.

I'm ever reminded to hold on to these days, somehow, and treasure them.  When you almost lose a beloved family member, every day is a celebration.  We had a party for Lana on her 10th birthday.  Our precious Lana reminds us how fragile and fleeting life is.  The cousins all had a grand old time running around the yard and enjoying each other. Our house just gets smaller as more babies are born into the family, so we were thankful for a warm day to be outside. Liana did a photo shoot of Lana.  I think the pictures will make a great gift for Lana for Christmas.  And Liana is becoming quite a photographer.  I seldom take pictures anymore because hers are always better than mine.  

The girls had been cleaning our their closets and found a bunch of fancy dresses they wore when they were young.  So at Lana's party, Liana helped the little girls put on a fashion show with the dresses, even styling their hair for the occasion.  All the adults sat in the living room as they strolled in and modeled their outfits. To their great delight, we told them they could KEEP the dresses, so they wore them home! 

I loved watching the kids interact with each other.  They don't get together too often, so it is exciting and fun for them to play together.  Arielle and Liana are so good with the babies, and I love seeing my daughters nurturing and caring for the little ones.  How blessed we are to have this family!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Winter Wood

Fred and Damien are always on the lookout for wood and spend a tremendous amount of time chopping, splitting and stacking their wood in order to save money on winter heating.  In fact, they have this Saturday set aside for taking down some cherry trees they found.  Last night my brother Jim posted this story as a comment, but I wanted to put it up front so more can read it.  Jim is a thoughtful guy, a great writer, and a good family man.  But he is also a real man's man and a tough, hard worker.  Love you and miss you, Brother!

Today has been special, Deborah. We built our first fire of the season. I have never had so much firewood going into winter! As I waded into our substantial firewood pile at the bottom of the yard this morning I remember every "workin party" that we had in the last year. I can tell you, if you have time to listen, where every batch came from, separated by the species. As I throw the wild cherry chunks into the trailer I can still feel the sharp stings of the yellow jackets that lit up my ankle after I stepped on their nest on the first cut of the of the downed tree. They did not appreciate the change in lifestyle that I had initiated by slicing through their nest. The locust wood reminds me of a very special day that I enjoyed in the woods with Rory, Landon and Sara. Rory is my scout as he drives his daily route through five counties of Western North Carolina delivering propane, always vigilant and alert for free firewood to keep his Dad warm through these long, cold, mountain winters. He had called me the day before to tell me that he had spotted a huge yellow locust tree that had been blown down by a recent windstorm. Rory doesn't burn wood but he is always right there with me ready to go to work to help me stock my firewood pile. The tree was in the creek, covered by poison ivy, and twenty feet down a steep bank. I'll never forget Landon's face as I sawed into the trunk and found a large mama copperhead and three baby snakes curled up in a rotten pocket on the tree.
I load some sycamore sticks and they remind me of a rainy day in June, when a friend had called on Friday afternoon to tell me that he had a tree down. It had to be gone before sundown. I looked at Angela, she looked at me. We were both tired after working long hours all week. She said, "let's gear up. We need to strike while the iron is hot". I have taught her well!
So, on this day, as the sun drops below the cold November horizon, the firewood is up to the house, the house is warm and smells wonderful! I lift the lid off the pot on the stove. I recognize immediately that Angela has cooked my favorite soup of all time.
She giggles behind me. She is pleased with my pleasure as I taste the soup!
Thank you Deb for your Butternut Squash Soup recipe! Even more important, thank you for showing me how important it is to appreciate and enjoy our families and all the small things that come our way every day and can bring us so much joy if we are receptive.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Tears for a Guinea Pig

It's been a sad week at our house.  We lost our dear little Poppy.  On Sunday she became lethargic and by the end of the day she was unable to walk or eat or drink.  I woke early Monday morning and fearfully peeked in on her.  She was lying motionless but when I called her name, she raised her head.  I made a little nest for her in a box and carefully picked up her frail, soft body so she could lie down in peace.  I covered her with a little blanket Liana made for her long ago. I told her what a good little animal she was and thanked her for being such a precious pet for Liana.  Then I woke Liana to tell her Poppy didn't have much time. 

Liana went downstairs and sat next to Poppy for an hour and a half.  Liana stroked her and talked to her until Poppy was gone.  All of us shed tears for Poppy.  Liana loved her so much.  I used to say God made guinea pigs just for little girls.  What docile animals they are, and so responsive to tender care.  And Poppy was a one-girl pig.  She loved Liana.

Some people would say, "But it's only a guinea pig!"  Poppy was much more than just a rodent.  She brought out Liana's best.  Liana is such a nurturing child.  She used to carry Poppy around in a basket lined with fleece.  When Liana sat with Poppy in her lap, Poppy would nestle in against her.  I would sometimes try to put Poppy back in her cage and Poppy would resist me and snuggle closer to Liana. I still remember the day the girls got their guinea pigs.  What joy these two animals brought to our household!  And poor Sunshine, Arielle's pig.  She wanders around the cage confused, looking for Poppy.

Poppy was buried in a shoebox among the Rose of Sharon and azalea in the backyard.  Her headstone is a beautiful rock we carried back from North Carolina several years ago.  We can see it from the kitchen window.  Liana is hurting.  I realize this is the end of childhood.  Little girls and little animals.  Gone with the years.