Broken Bones, Broken Hearts and Broken Promises…

After a bit of encouragement today from a lovely group of bloggers, my mind started to once more formulate something to write. It has been three months since my last post. I broke a promise to myself to be more consistent in writing. I was determined and I did not see it through. I realized today that for years I have been playing at writing. It is a life long goal of mine to be a writer. A serious one. Each new year I think to myself, “This is THE year. I am going to start that novel I have carried in my heart and mind for the past twenty plus years. ” And then, by the end of January those thoughts fade and I think to myself, “Well, maybe someday I will get to it.” This year was no different, I thought maybe this year I will do it. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t ruled it out.

The past three months have been eventful. They have flown by actually. The end of October I was blessed in being able to speak to a group of women whom I love dearly. It was a long weekend retreat at a beach house in Myrtle Beach, SC. The talk centered around forgiveness and a hard lesson I learned about forgiveness and faith several years ago. It was a cathartic experience in writing this. But, with experiences like this, I felt drained after sharing my thoughts and words and emotions.

During the time of the retreat I had to miss the memorial service for my dear cousin who had passed away. It broke my heart to not be there for him or for my extended family. We each have that one cousin (if we are blessed) that brings your heart joy with each thought. He was that cousin for me. My heart smiles with each memory of him, but, I feel his absence daily with each thought also.

After the retreat, hubby and I traveled to our hometown in Northwest Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful time, it is always fun to be with friends and see family. We had a wedding to attend and that made the time even more enjoyable. Our niece made a beautiful bride and her new husband is a wonderful addition to our family.

As we were celebrating in our niece’s joy we received word that a dear friend passed away suddenly after a fall. It made the cracks in our heart deeper as we realized once more that we would not be there for the memorial service. The separation of death hurts in ways you do not expect. We have the assurance that we will see one another again, both my cousin and our friend, when we pass through this life, but, it does not ease the desire for one more conversation, one more round of laughter, one more time to pray for one another.

On our last night in our hometown, my dear hubby decided to do a tap dance with a cat, at the top of a staircase. Guess who won the dance contest? Yep, the cat! Fortunately, no fall down the stairs, but there was a trip to the emergency room for a broken ankle. It fortunately healed quickly and he is back to normal and on the mend.

Yes, it’s been a hectic three months. But, worth it. In between all the chaos were the holidays and a trip to see Mickey and Minnie at Disney World. I have found that usually in life there is chaos and confusion at times, but in the day to day things there is always a place where peace and joy reside. It is in the little things. The memories of loved ones that make your heart smile. The laughter as you explain to doctors how an ankle was broken. The victory of being able to share things from your life you never thought you would be able to speak aloud. The sparkle of tree lights and the sparkle of grandchildren as they look and marvel at gifts under the tree. The gleeful laughter of grands as they play and chase one another around the house, dogs in pursuit and mothers yelling to slow down. Life, sometimes it needs encouragement, sometimes it needs quiet, sometimes a simple nudge to just write helps immensely.

Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate you! Cathi (DAF)

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Michael…

I haven’t been on my blog or reading other blogs for about a week now.  I don’t know what has been written about the hurricane and so I have been hesitant to write about it myself.

We had the remnants of the hurricane pass through our area, we were on the western edge, so to us, the storm was no different from a good winter type storm. Some wind, rain and a few small branches laying in the yard.

Our daughter’s family lives in Panama City Beach, had Michael not veered slightly to the east, she would have been in the direct path.   As it was, she did not receive as much damage as expected, for which we are so grateful.

What has prompted me to write is this, although the initial reports were wonderful, like most things in life, when the dust settles and the air is clear things appear that at first glance were overlooked.  Such was the case with family there.   They are still so much farther ahead than  others and they are so thankful and know they are blessed, but they still have some obstacles to overcome.

They have learned a few lessons so far in this process and by default,  I am learning them too. I am so proud of my daughter and son-in-law.  They give.  They give of themselves, their time, their belongings.  I am looking at my home in a fresh way this week.  I am looking at what is in my home in a new way.  This storm has touched my life.   I know there have been other storms, and I am not diminishing those in any way, this one was more personal.  When things are personalized they take on greater meaning.  I have joked in the past that I do like the hurricane seasons because my kids, who are both in hurricane prone areas, come to visit.  Yes, that is wonderful, and I do love those times, but this time the kids did not come home.   They made the intelligent decision to go a bit further west and found safety from the storm and had a few days of sun.

Coming home to what they did, they took nothing for granted.  They have power and cell coverage.  They no longer just turn on a switch and expect the lights to come on.  The lights are a blessing.  Their cell carrier who is usually complained about is now a wonderful treat.  They are sharing their phones with others, so things can be accomplished and loved ones can hear a voice and feel reassured.

It’s the little things that are usually taken for granted that have opened their (and my) eyes to the blessing they are.  The photos do not do justice to the area.  Their neighborhood is being cleared, but the damage is great.  There is a bridge that connects Panama City Beach to Panama City.  My daughter said that the damage on her side of the bridge takes your breath away in the magnitude, but, she said compared to the other side of the bridge they are very fortunate.

I have shared this to encourage whoever is reading to pray for those in the path of Michael.  There are some who are still struggling with the effects of Florence who  were hit once more with this last storm.  As  news stories come and go, we tend to forget those major headlines from a week ago.  The headlines may fade, but the damage does not go away as quickly.

Thank you for stopping by today.  DAF (Cathi)

Six years out…

Six years ago on the 28th of July, I wrote this blog post:

This will be short. I am busy watching my baby’s baby. He is absolutely gorgeous, all 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long.

He coos, he squeals, he cries, and he is the proud owner of my heart. It no longer belongs to me, it is his. His little fingers have wrapped their way around my heart and there they will stay.

That’s it for now, I am busy reveling in the glory of our God in giving our family such a gift.

Yes, it was a short post, and it seems like yesterday that I wrote it.  But, it’s not.  It was six years ago.

Tomorrow Little Man turns six.  Can you believe that?  I know I can’t!  So many little stories I have written about him and when I re-read each one, it seems like it just happened.

It has been a while since I wrote anything about this precious little guy.  My heart is still his, like my heart is also his cousin’s.  Those little ones grab your heart with that first look and they do not let go of it, nor, would I want them to.

Little Man is now heading into the first grade.  He is an avid reader, reading much more above his grade level.  He is into dinosaurs currently, he still loves his legos, and his taste in music is incredible.  He can rock out with the best of us.

He makes me smile just with a glance and when it has been a while since I last saw him, my arms ache for a hug.

So much of what I took for granted while raising my daughters, like birthdays and interests, loose teeth, and advancing in school, is now of great interest to me.  I love hearing him tell me of his adventures, those  big and small.  These little things are so important to him, and to me.   He continues to teach me things I have long forgotten.  The joy of discovering a new trick on a scooter, the fun of wriggling a loose tooth, the information on dinosaurs and how they looked or what they ate.   These are important lessons to focus on.

I am still amazed at this Little Man.  He makes my heart smile. IMG_1760Happy Birthday six-year-old!  Grammy loves you.

 

 

We have the same name…

I went to kindergarten in the morning.  I had a friend who lived across the street somewhat, it’s an intersection where there are actually a couple of streets merging off of one.  Anyhow, I really liked this girl and her name also was Kathy.   I remember one day another girl came to play with my friend Kathy.  She had red hair.  She went to afternoon kindergarten.  She was playing with my friend Kathy.  I immediately did not like her.  She was crowding in on my friend territory.  Her name?  Kathy.

Fast  forward through eight years of elementary school and this red-headed Kathy was at all of my birthday parties and I was at hers.  We were friends.  The other Kathy? I really have lost touch with her and don’t actually know where she is…

But, this third Kathy, this red-headed girl has become my forever friend.  We grew closer during high school.  I was at her house all the time.  We spent nights together, talking until three or four in the morning.  She introduced me to my husband, I was there when she tripped and actually fell into the lap of her future husband, smashing an ice cream cone into his face.  Yes, I was that friend who sat and laughed uncontrollably while that happened.   It was classic!

I just went online to read the definition of forever friend.  I read articles of how you know when you find a forever friend.  I didn’t need to read any of it.  The definition of a forever friend?  Kathy.

C.S. Lewis (one of my favorite writers) once said, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. ”   This is my friend.

We have gone long times when we haven’t spoken.  We have had a distance between us.  We have been like sisters at times when we have argued and stayed mad at one another.  But, then, that melody drifts into our hearts and we know that we need to reach out to one another. We need to have that time of restoration.  To hear one another, and to listen to each other.  Those words that remind us of who we are.   That melody in our hearts that were sung as children and teens, and kept us sane as young mothers.  That harmony that now eases us into our ‘senior years’.  The song that started out as a light melody has now become an orchestral piece, rich with all the sounds of the instruments.  The deep bass of the hard and difficult times we have seen one another through, the piccolo of the happy times, the weddings and the births of grandchildren.  Those calming woodwinds that  echo with memories of times spent together.  Each movement conveying notes we carry in our hearts for one another.

Friends are truly a gift from our God.  I have been blessed with many friends.  I am honored when someone befriends me and I often wonder why they would.  The friendship with Kathy has been grown over time.  I often see a reflection of God in her.  Her faith, her giving heart, her determination, her drive, challenges me and at the same time amazes me.  There are very few people who I can be truly and honestly myself with.  I am grateful that Kathy allows me to be me, bumps, bruises, frustration, anger, tears, laughter, all of who I am, I can be.   She will listen and then, with ever so much grace she will point me the Lord and the direction I need to go.

In the Message Bible, Proverbs 17:17 says, Friends love through all kinds of weather,
    and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”  

I am so grateful to God for the gift of that red-headed girl I met so many, many, many years ago.   I hope you have had the blessing of a forever friend.  Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

The Comfort of a Worn Quilt…

Psalm 91:4 New Living Translation (NLT)

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

 

This verse in Psalms reminds me of sitting under an old soft quilt.  You know those quilts made up of many squares from different pieces of cloth.  Each cloth has a story of its own and a different “feel” to it.  Some are more worn than others and some silky, some with a faded texture, some more vibrant in color and some that are just worn from time.  Each square is sewn together with threads of love, prayer and hope.

You sit under this quilt for comfort, warmth and security.  This quilt has been used to wipe your tears and your nose.  It is a well-loved quilt.  You cannot describe this quilt because it encompasses too many thoughts and emotions. There are too many stories that, like the squares that are sewn together, each has a history.

Bruce is married to my forever friend.  I was there when they first met (classic story for another time), I went on their first date (double date to a Billy Graham movie), interrupted their first kiss (oops!!), he was in our wedding and we were in theirs.  He is our oldest daughter’s  Godfather.

He is not a brother, not a friend; he is like an old worn quilt.  Our lives (the four of us) are sewn together with threads of faith, love, hope, disappointment, fear, trust, laughter, memories.

Spending time with Bruce reminds me of my quiet times with my Lord.  I can sit and talk, honestly and openly.  I can sit and say nothing at all.  There is no judgment.  No condemnation.  Just a peace.

Lord, help me to run to the shelter of Your wings.  There I can be safe.  There I can learn from You.  Cover me in Your perfect peace.   Amen.

Thank you for visiting today,  Cathi (DAF)

My Brother…

1 Corinthians 10:24 New Living Translation (NLT)

24 Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.

I never had a brother.  I always wanted one.  Growing up with my sisters was wonderful and I cherish them, but, I saw my cousins who were, or had brothers and I envied them.  There is just something about having a brother.  I actually wanted a big brother.  That was just not possible.

Not possible, until we went to Japan.  When we first went to Japan we moved into a small apartment on the “economy”, which meant we moved into a Japanese neighborhood and lived like they did.   We were put on a waiting list for government housing, which is an American style home.  (Well, American as what the Occupation housing was like).

Several months after arriving in Japan we were contacted that we had worked our way through the housing list.  We drove from our little place in Kikoba, Hayama to Yokohama, Japan.  There we met up with two other couples, one a little older than us and the other, a couple our age with their baby girl in a little carrier.   There were three couples and three homes.  There was a ranking order and so we knew that when the older couple said which house they wanted, it was theirs.   We ended up with the houses we all wanted, so there was no strife in the decisions.

We moved in and a few months later while I was grocery shopping I ran into the couple with the baby.  They invited hubby and I to dinner that night and thus began a life long friendship.

But, this post is not just about them, it is about my desire for a brother.  The Lord heard my cry for one and He provided a brother for me in this young man.  After we all left Japan, they moved to San Diego and eventually we were there also.

It was during our time in San Diego that Mike truly became my big brother.  With hubby deployed so often, Mike stepped in and did the heavy stuff around our home.  Without asking, he was there faithfully to mow our lawn, build fences, move dirt, anything I might need.    His family is our family, we love each other and they are Aunt and Uncle and cousins to my girls and we are that to their girls.

Michael is not just a brother in a sense of taking care of things for me, he is the one I can argue with and disagree with.  He will challenge me when I am wrong, he will correct me.  He has words that are encouraging and words that make me spit out drinks from my nose in laughter.  As they say now, he truly is my brother from another mother.  I cherish his presence in my life.

Michael has taught me many things.  His life reflects his determination to be available for others.  He looks for the good in others, he brings it out in people.  He strives to expose in people things they do not see themselves.  He has done this for me.  I have grudgingly listened to him and mentally fought what he has said to me, eventually realizing he was right all along, thus giving me a firmer foundation.

Sometimes the desires of our hearts are not what we thought they were.  As a child, I saw an older brother as a mere protector, someone to guard against bullies, or to wrestle with, or to just hang out with.  The brother I received could be all of that, but, he is a voice that will beckon me to better things.  He will show by example consistency in his family.  He can be annoying in disagreements, and he will just smile when I realize he was right.    But, even though I do not see him much now, I know that he is a phone call away and if it is possible he would be at our side as soon as humanly possible.

Our Lord places us in families, those we are born with and those that just ‘happen’ to come to us.  My family was blessed to be placed together with theirs.  I am grateful for my brother.

Lord, thank you for Michael.  Thank You for the lessons You have taught me through him.  Help me to follow his example of You.  Those examples of seeing people as You see them, being consistent in my life.  Let my life be a reflection of You this day.

Thank you for stopping by…  Cathi (DAF)

Implementing an Idea…

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to write.  I have always loved the idea of putting thoughts together to somehow have an impact on another’s life.  I don’t know if I have ever succeeded in doing so, but, as you know, it has not stopped me.

As we were leaving Japan to return to living in the states, I had an idea for a book.  Obviously, that has not happened.    The book was to be a devotional of the lessons I had learned from the people in my life.  I have tried a few times to start it and each time, I reread what I had written and either tore it up (before computers) and threw it away, or, I have hit the delete button and it disappeared.

After my last post, I realized that lately I have had a theme in several of my posts that talk about people in my life and what they have meant to me.  I have suggested that you tell those you love, or who are in your life how important they are to you.    As I finished my last post, it occurred to me that this might be the time for me to at least blog about the lessons and truths I have learned along the way with those precious people who have been in my life.  So, I am going to begin sharing some things from people who have been placed in my life.  This will be my (hopefully) gift to those close to me.

So, my blog will be my observations, lessons, and love I have gathered along the way.  Life is fleeting, and I want to take the time to share my love.  That is, of course, unless something really exciting happens and I have to write about that!

Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate your visit.  Cathi (DAF)

Navy Family…

Military families are a unique group of people.  Separated from biological families, they have to make and become part of a new family with each duty station.  Their children have very little access to their real cousins, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents.  So, in the absence of having blood relations around, family units are formed and the bond is as strong as it would be if you had grown up in your hometown.

As is common in some families, though, there are times where there is little communication and days of not talking can turn into weeks, months and eventually years.  You think of them, you pray for them, but life continues and soon you realize that you have lost touch with them.  Their names are no longer on your Christmas card list, and their birthdays are no longer marked on the calendar.  You have the memories of them, you smile to yourself as you remember the duty station and the things you had in common, but, for the most part, you smile and once more tuck the memories away in the file in your heart labeled (for me) Norfolk, Yokosuka, Nagai, Bangor, Winter Harbor, San Diego.

And then…   your text notification goes off at 2:00 a.m..  My first thought was to ignore it.  My second thought, it may be one of the girls and you panic trying to figure out what happened and if the grand-babies are okay.  The third thought is, ‘Put on your glasses dummy and see who it was” .  So, at 2:05 a.m., I fumble for my glasses, and stumble into the bathroom, turn on the light and bleary-eyed read the text.  It was urgent sounding.  Prayer needed.  No name, just a phone number.    My next thought was, “poor thing.  must be a wrong number since there was no name attached to the text.”   I pray for this person and then the area code sinks into my brain.  I recognize the area code, I used to have this area code.  By now I am mentally awake.  I scroll down and realize it is a different number than the Maine numbers I have.  I pray a bit harder.

I get back to sleep after feeling like I had prayed enough.   It was a group text and honestly, I think people get up way too early on Sundays.  My notifications started to go off at 5:30 a.m..   One after another.  I finally put my phone under my pillow so it wasn’t so annoying, after all, I had my alarm set for 7 a.m.  and I didn’t want to over sleep!

In a nutshell, all of the texts and commotion through the night was for a ‘family’ member from Winter Harbor.  She is ill, and in the hospital.  She was one that had been lost for me.  It was her number that showed up on my phone.  Today I talked with her for the first time in I can’t remember how long.  We laughed and shared memories and prayed together.  It brought a smile to my face.

Then an hour ago, another unidentified phone number showed up on my phone.  I answered and figured it was a sales call.  It was not.  It was someone else that I had lost touch with.  She was part of that family in Winter Harbor.  I recognized her voice, as with family, you do not have to identify yourself when calling.  You know the voice.  Your heart recognizes the voice.  We visited for a short time and the call ended.

In hanging up from that call, I realized that our adopted families are just like our biological families.  We know we are there.  We can call, or choose not to.  We can message, text, write a letter, share a post, or we can decide not to.  But, when there is an event, or an emergency,  family comes together.  We may not be as close as we once were, and we may no longer see eye to eye on everything, but, we will come together to pray, to support, to hold one another up.

I am grateful for my adopted families.  My life has been shaped and formed through knowing them.  My mind and heart are filled with memories shared with them.  When I think of them, I am transported to the housing area that had a perfect view of Mt. Fuji, rice paddies, and yakitori stands.  Or, I am immediately put on the rock-bound coast of Maine, with the sea smell and lobster traps.  Images and smells and sounds of my life.  Littered with snippets of people who have encouraged me, challenged me, supported me and laughed with me.  So, to my siblings that have been on my mind and heart today, Mike, Cindy, Debbie, Dick, Maggie, Jackie, Bob, Susie, Vance, Ruthie, Neil, Rosalee, and so many more, thank you for making me me.  My life has been so blessed by you all.  I love you.  And, to my nieces and nephews,  Janna, Wendy, Cathy, Beth, Dawn, Paige, Kelly, Kevin,  and Aimee, I love you.  You are missed and your young lives made me smile in so many ways, thank you for the blessing of being you.    (Disclaimer: I failed to mention another Vance, who started as an adopted part of family, but became family, as did his mom, dad and sister and he became Little Man’s daddy)

Thanks for dropping by today and for reading my stroll down memory lane.  Cathi (DAF)

Snow…

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Yesterday we woke up to this.  Beautiful, isn’t it?  I love snow.  I smile when I see snow.  I turn into that child that wants to run outside all bundled up and play.  We had heard we may get snow, but, we have heard that a couple of times this winter.  Each time has been a disappointment to hubby and I.   We read accuweather and saw that the snow was supposed to come at 3:00 a.m.  We actually stayed up until 3:30 a.m. hoping to at least see some flurries.  Every few minutes one of us would go out to the front porch and look.  Each time one of us would report that although we could smell the coming of snow, it was not snowing.

Finally, saner minds took control and we went to bed, knowing that we would be disappointed once more, but resigning ourselves to the fact that we once again, may not have snow.

You can only imagine our excitement to wake up and see our beautiful property covered in glorious snow yesterday.   We watched as the snow kept falling throughout the morning.  We had a late breakfast and went out to explore our property.  We walked through our woods, loving each snow covered branch, each tree laden down with the weight of the snow.  We were out until our feet were cold and our hands cold.  It was a day I will always remember.

Snow is important to me.  It is part of who I am.  I know that sounds strange, but there is a part of me that comes alive in snow.  I don’t tire of it.  It is a part of my childhood and it is a part of our young married life living in Maine.  It makes my heart glad.

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Snow especially means a lot to me on this day.  Forty three years ago today, I woke up to a blinding snow storm.  I gasped as I looked out the window.  I wasn’t expecting snow on that day, it hadn’t really crossed my mind.  But, there it was and still falling.  I got dressed, curled my hair, put on my make up and then posed with my family for my wedding pictures.

It was a day I will always remember, as you do whenever you get married.  But, this day had so many unexpected laughs and memories that I hold dear.  So, as I look out our back windows today at the snow covered woods behind our home, I remember seeing my dashing young groom come sliding into a parking place in front of the church, bounding over the snow drifts and heading into the church.

I will remember my forever friend’s father making snow balls and throwing them at us as we were getting our pictures taken inside the church.  I will remember walking through knee deep snow in the parking lot of our reception hall and being caught by my groom as I went sliding into the hall almost losing my balance.  I will always remember the look on my Aunt Dot’s face when she saw me almost fall.    I will remember the band walking in late for the reception since they were in three snow related accidents trying to get to the reception.  None of those memories would have happened had there not been snow.  So, yes, I do love snow as it makes the best memories to hold.

Outside of living in Maine some thirty nine years ago, we have not had snow on our anniversary.  It was a special gift to me this year.  One that I will always remember.  Happy Anniversary to my dear hubby.  I may not have written anything lovely on Facebook today, but, this is for you.  It has been an adventure, hasn’t it?  IMG_1869

Thanks for stopping by today.  Cathi (DAF)