Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Social

Sunday Social

Linking up for "Sunday Social"- I've always loved a good survey! (Anyone remember the seemingly never-ending surveys back in the Xanga days?!)

1. What do you miss most about being a kid?
The endless possibilities for the future. 
Playing "pretend" with friends and making up stories-- which I still love to do whenever I'm with little kids! Swinging as high as you could.  
Also, I take back every time I didn't want to take a nap! 

2. Did you have a nickname growing up? What was it?
My parents mostly just called me by my name.  My dad had one nickname for me that I'd rather not share on here, but he also called me "Curler Top" when I had rollers in my hair, and "Miss Hollywood" whenever I had on sunglasses!

3. What was your favorite thing to do at recess?
In pre-school, we played a game called "Kissing Girl."  All the girls chased the boys around the playground screaming "Kissing Girl!" and said we'd kiss the boys if we ever caught them. We never did, of course... and I don't blame them for running! Then I tried to play the game in kindergarten, and our teacher told me I wasn't allowed to chase the boys anymore.  What a five-year-old rebel!

4. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to find a way to be a kindergarten teacher, pediatrician, and writer at the same time, and I didn't understand why my mom told me that was impossible!

5. What was your favorite toy?
I loved my baby dolls.  I had all the outfits, strollers, beds, etc., and played "mommy" to all of them.  My favorite doll, Cindy, looked like a real baby... plenty of people had to take a second look when I brought her on our shopping trips!

6. What is the funniest thing you did as a kid that your parents still remind you about? 
When I was two, I always left off the word "years" when telling people my age.  So "two years old" sounded like "too old," usually said nonchalantly while quickly showing two fingers.  I sounded two going on 22! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The God on the Mountain is Still the God in the Valley

My mom passed along this email this morning-- she always gets the best ones! Of course I had to share.  It is easy to stand firm in your faith and God's plan when you are "up on the mountain" and things are going  well in your life, but it's when you're down in the valley that He really puts your heart to the test.  Such a powerful reminder that God is good, all the time, and that even when we're deep down in the valley, He is in control and will bring us back atop that mountain!

The God on the Mountain is Still the God in the Valley

“Life is easy when you’re up on the mountain
And you’ve got peace of mind like you’ve never known
But things change when you’re down in the valley
Don’t lose faith for you’re never alone!
You talk of faith when you’re up in the mountain
But talk comes easy when life’s at its best
Now it’s down in the valley of trials and temptations
That’s where your faith is really put to the test.
For the God on the mountain
Is still the God in the valley
When things go wrong He’ll make them right
And the God of the good times is God in the bad times
The God of the DAY is still the God of the NIGHT.”
-Claudia Miclaus

Words to Live By:

"One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do."
-Henry Ford

“I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.”
-Charles Swindoll

“There is no use trying to help people who do not help themselves.  You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb.”
-Author Unknown

“When you are in the valley, keep your goal firmly in view and you will get the renewed energy to continue to climb.”
-Denis Waitley

One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.
-G K Chesterton

“The remarkable thing is that it is the crowded life that is most easily remembered.  A life full of turns, achievements, disappointments, surprises, and crisis is a life full of landmarks.  The empty life has even its few details blurred, and cannot be remembered with certainty."
-Eric Hoffer

Monday, September 3, 2012

For Grandpa John

"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die." - Thomas Campbell

My Grandpa, the wonderful man he was, was also known to have a stubborn streak and make some decisions that made his first wife, my grandmother, and his second wife, Martha, shake their heads.  (Or in Grandma Mary's case, beat her head against the refrigerator, according to my dad). 

Some number of years ago, my family members were visiting my grandmother's grave.  Without thinking, in front of my grandfather's second wife, someone asked my grandfather if he planned to be buried there next to my grandmother. There was an awkward pause as everyone wondered how my stepgrandmother would react, but she piped up with "Yes, he will, and I'll be buried on the other side so we can take turns smacking him!"  To which my grandfather said, "And then you'll see a skeleton go running across the cemetery to escape in his red truck!"

My grandmother passed away 34 years ago, and my stepgrandmother has now also been gone for 12 years, so they've been waiting a long time for Grandpa to join them. My dad has always said that the night we laid Grandpa to rest in little old Milan, Tennessee, there would be a big storm.  He was right.  It poured all through the service, let up in the afternoon long enough for us to go to the cemetery, and that night, there was a storm with 70 mile/hour winds that blew the rain sideways.  I can't help but laugh thinking that Grandma Mary and Martha were part of that powerful welcome!    

I had been thinking to myself that if there was such a storm, as my dad predicted, Grandpa would also give us a rainbow.  He didn't disappoint! 

At the visitation, relatives and family friends, many of whom I had never met, told me how much my grandfather-- also known as J, Uncle J, John, Mr. John, etc.-- meant to them and how much he will be missed.  I heard from a lady whose granddaughter loved the tomatoes he always brought over just for her; a family who said he always brought them fresh vegetables when they didn't have much; his ROMEO breakfast club members (Retired Old Men Eating Out) who dined daily at McDonald's; sweet old ladies who were his dancing partners; and neighbors who said Milan hadn't been the same since he left. 

I am so proud of all that Grandpa saw and did in his life, like surviving the Great Depression, joining the Civilian Conservation Corps to send money home to his family, and proudly serving his country in the Navy during World War II.  

The little things about him are what will really stand out in my mind, like his love for bowling that I inherited (though I'm still trying to master his ability to curve the ball and get a strike) and how on his 91st birthday, he still beat my dad and cousin in a game of pool.  He was unable to stand for long, but the minute it was his turn and he had spotted an opportunity, he jumped right up with his pool cue and knocked yet another ball in a pocket.  He loved to go dancing, and my aunt recounted how even when he tried to stay in on a Saturday night, he said he'd hear a noise and it'd be his shoes dancing in the closet, so he figured he'd better take them out for a whirl!

Grandpa stayed active through his late 80s, and many of his younger neighbors said he put them to shame with all that he still did.  Even when Alzheimer's disease began to take over, forcing us to move him to Texas where we could help care for him, he still wanted to be doing things.  I realized that in the midst of a terrible disease that robbed him of so many abilities, we were blessed that he always remembered his family.  I have heard stories of Alzheimer's patients who forget who their own children are, and I dreaded when that day came for Grandpa, but fortunately it never did.  I don't know if he could have told you my name by the end of his life, but I could tell by the look in his eyes and his smile when we walked into the room that he knew we were family, and that he loved all of us, and we loved him.  At the end of his full 91 years on this earth, what more could we have asked for? We know that he is reunited in heaven with Grandma Mary, Martha, and so many others, bowling and dancing and no longer sick, and that makes me very, very happy.        

"Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." John 11:25-26