Prayers For The Great Smoky Mountains

mtns_11-29-2016Last night and today, fires are burning in the Great Smoky Mountains and it is heartbreaking.  Some of our favorite places to visit in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are being damaged or destroyed.

On my first date with Kirk, we went to Gatlinburg to eat and walk around.  We had a wonderful time and talked for hours.  That was the start of our amazing life together.  We both have very fond memories of that time together.

Last December, we spent a day with dear friends at the Westgate resort.  We had lunch at the indoor water park, and then visited at a cabin.  This photo was taken there in December 2015.  It is one of the places where the fires have been burning.

Our prayers go out to those who live and work in these communities.  May they be safe and not lose everything.  May the animals not be displaced or hurt.  May the firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, police officers, and all first responders stay safe and unharmed.

May those who have been evacuated be okay and able to eventually go home.  May visitors and curious people stay away since it is not safe to be on the roads where the fires are burning.  May we help one another.

May the rain help fight these fires and may the cities still stand when these fires are finally doused.  May all volunteers such as the Red Cross be blessed and have all that they need to help the people and these communities.

May we love one another and be there for each other during the rebuilding.  In your mercy Lord, Hear Our Prayer.  Amen.

Thanksgiving Prayer

DSC00725For most of the last few years, I have posted this prayer that my grandfather wrote in the 1950s. It has and continued to move me.  So many small things that we often take for granted are to be remembered and celebrated.

In light of the world today, I thought it was especially special to those of us with children.

“Our Father-God we thank thee…

• For the ringing laughter of our children playing, for their giggles, and the moist throaty chuckles of our babies
• For the tender weight of a sleeping child in our arms, and the trust of a tired son who rests his head upon our shoulder, and sleeps
• For the joy we feel in baby’s first tooth, first word, first step, and the thrill of the grown-up child who marries
• For the exultant communion with our teen ones when we dive together into the clean cold surf at dawn, and stand with them silently at sunset drinking glory from the cloud-studded sky
• For small boys on tricycles, or on hands and knees in the sandbox pushing toy trucks and making man-noises
• For tomboy girls streaking across the lawn, swinging on rings, or whirling like pinwheels on turning bars
• For the wonder on the sensitive face of a half-grown child as she listens to a great organ for the first time, or watches a symphony orchestra
• For the fun of family picnics, and vacation trips, and going fishing together
• For the thrill we feel when a daughter stands before us in her first formal gown, and we realize that she is beautiful
• For the joy of a child’s recovery from illness, and the relief we feel when we see an accident almost happen, but not quite
• For the pressure of a timid child’s hand in ours as we walk together in the dark
• For parenthood we thank thee.
• And, our Father-God, to thee we pray for peace. If it be thy will, grant that we may continue our lives together in the precious years to come.   Amen.”

Honestly, this prayer gets me every time I read it. So many things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving — my family, my friends, my home, our community, our church, Ian’s school, and so much more.  I am so blessed.

May you and yours be blessed this Thanksgiving Day!  Hope you have a great day!

Flashback Friday – Family

ff118_familyHi and Happy Friday.  For today’s Flashback Friday, I decided to use an old family photo from the 1970s.  It is one that Mom just sent to me and I love it.  Besides, the photo challenge for yesterday was family.

Here is my family.  I am the one in the middle. Interesting how we are all barefoot except for Dad.  I love these old photos and treasure them like gold.  Seeing the changes of all of us and the next generation in these faces is fascinating.  I just wish I could remember what I was thinking back then.

I love this family of mine — me, my sister, my brother, our mother and our father.  I love this photo too since it is so 70s.  The clothes, the hair, the couch, the wall, and did you notice the flag in the corner?  So retro and so cool.

I am fortunate to have grown up in a family where we were taught and shown unconditional love, acceptance, and compassion.  Also, we were taught to be kind and respect those different from ourselves.  Kirk and I are now teaching that to Ian.

My extended family is equally as awesome.  We are diverse in everything – our beliefs and our religions, who we love, how we earn our livings, what we are passionate about, our politics, and so much more.  Each one is unique and special and I love them all with all of my heart. Also, I have learned a lot from them.

I have recently had the pleasure of editing a family history book that Mom wrote.  And, I have to say from ancestors to those living today, my family is amazing. So many people have been passionate about so many things and we are all so different.  I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of this amazing legacy.

Today I am thankful for:

  • My loving parents
  • My fun siblings who are life-long friends
  • My amazing hubby and son
  • My wonderful in-laws
  • My fabulous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews
  • Learning about my heritage
  • Learning about my grandparents and many great grandparents
  • Growing up knowing that differences in people are okay and interesting
  • Long talks with loved ones who see the world differently than I do
  • Kindness and compassion towards others
  • Love not hate

I look forward to family time during the holidays and cannot wait for more time to chat and learn more about them.  I hope to see my extended family in the summer again soon.  Love to all of them.

Have You Voted?

Voting0003Today is Tuesday, November 8, 2016 — Election Day!  Finally!  After an ugly campaign season of more than a year, it is finally time to vote.

Have you voted?  I hope that you have or that you do today.  It is important to make our voices known and be involved.  As I heard on a show yesterday, people have fought and died for this right.

I voted early and am glad that I did. The line wasn’t long and I had a feeling that today it would be.  Ian went with us and was intrigued by the entire process.  He helped me push the button when I cast my ballot.

This morning, he set up a voting booth for his stuffed animals.  Several of them have cast their ballots.  Others will throughout the day.  I have to say that I loved seeing that!  He seems to understand the importance of voting and I hope that will be something that lasts his entire life.

It is interesting to think that in his life, he has only known President Obama as the President.  That is a unique perspective, isn’t it?  I wonder who will be the next President?  I just hope and pray tonight that the winner will win graciously, the loser will be gracious as well, and that we as a country can move on and heal.

Compromise and understanding what the opposition thinks aren’t bad things.  To me, the only way to move forward is to learn from one another, work together, and put the good of our country at the forefront.  May we figure out a way to do just that.

Today I am thankful for:

  • Living in a country where I can vote freely and as I choose
  • Women being given the right to vote in 1920
  • That our son is interested in the process
  • Our many freedoms and rights
  • Early voting
  • Our amazing three branches of government
  • Learning from others
  • My 9th Grade Civics Class
  • My diverse family and friends
  • My hubby and son
  • My dad who is one of the many election workers today
  • My mom who is passionate about her views
  • My parents who taught us to learn about issues and think for ourselves
  • My family who taught me to respect others and to be kind
  • My siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews
  • My friends who enrich my life

I wonder what the end of tonight will bring?  I just hope and pray that it is peaceful and without violence or hate.  May God Bless America

Halloween Flashback Friday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi and Happy Friday!  In a few days it will be the last day of October and Halloween.  My this month has flown by.  This photo is from many years ago of Ian dressed as Elmo.  As you can see, I was in a similar outfit.

I know several families who do not celebrate Halloween.  We do, but ours is the fun dress-up Halloween, not the scary one that many people seem to like. Each year, I have to warn Ian that some people like scary stuff.  We do not, as he likes to remind me.

We are ready to walk around the neighborhood and ask for candy.  It is supposed to be warm so that will work well for his costume.  He is wearing the same as what he did last year and is excited about that.

A few Halloween questions.  What are your answers?  Mine are below.

  • Store bought costume or homemade?  Ours are usually homemade.
  • Favorite candy? Junior Mints, M&Ms, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Stay home or go out?  We trick-or-treat and then come home and give out candy
  • Favorite scary movie?  Don’t like them so none

Hope you have a great weekend and a fun Halloween if you celebrate it!  We sure will.

Happy Anniversary to Kirk / Happy Birthday to Dad

TT.DadDay2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi and Happy Monday.  Today is my wedding anniversary with my hubby Kirk and also my father’s birthday.  What a special day it is. The top photo is of me with my dad the year before Ian was born.  The bottom photo is of my groom, Ian, and me.

Over the weekend, we celebrated my dad and a family friend and had a blast.  Our family and friends always make a big deal about birthdays.  I just love that.  We celebrate each person, have great meals and cakes and ice cream, and give gifts and cards as well. The birthday boy or girl chooses the special meal that is made in his or her honor.  There is also singing and lots of photos.

This morning, Kirk and I had breakfast, reminisced about our wedding day, and gave each other cards.  We are both quite busy and will celebrate more later.  More importantly, we are loving and kind to each other each day.  Or at least try to be. We are also best friends and love doing stuff together.

My hubby and my dad are two of my favorite guys.  I am so very blessed and so thankful for both of them and all that they have meant to me.  It was great for Dad to share his special day with us.  I love them both so very much.

Today I am thankful for:

  • A father who has always loved me, flaws and all
  • A father who has taught me so very much
  • A husband who I treasure more each year
  • A husband who is my partner on life’s journey
  • A father who is great with Ian
  • A father and mother who have shown what true love really is
  • A husband who adores his son
  • A husband who loves to spend time with me and our son
  • A father who loves unconditionally
  • A hubby who loves unconditionally

Today I celebrate my hubby and my father and thank the Lord for both of them.  Kirk and Dad, hope you both have terrific days!  Also, Happy United Nations Day.

What a Month!

Playground.4Hi and Happy October.  I just noticed that I haven’t written at all this month.  Sheesh!  I can’t believe that is the third Monday of the month already.  Where has this time gone?

What have I been doing all month to keep me busy?  Let’s see, celebrating a boy’s birthday, having fall break fun and adventures, shopping, eating out, traveling to North Carolina for work and fun, spending time with family and friends, celebrating my mother’s birthday, watching a few movies, working on items for PTO, and so much more.

We just completed fall break and Ian is now back at school.  We had a great time but I took a break from the computer and just enjoyed being in the moment.  It was nice but also a bit strange.  We also had some computer and Internet issues that prompted some of it.  I did, however, start missing my writing.

I love October.  It is my favorite month of the year.  I got married this month and our son was also born this month.  And, it is the birthday of some other loved ones.  So, it is special. And, I love that it is the first month that actually feels like fall.

We enjoy the change in the weather, the chance to wear fuzzy socks again, jackets in the morning, the shorter days and changes in the colors of the leaves. And there is Halloween candy, dressing up, and baking treats. I also like soups, chili, pumpkin spice cookies, pumpkin bread, bonfires, football, and baseball playoffs.

All in all, it is a great month and one that I look forward each year.  You may be wondering about today’s photo.  The photo challenge for today is Tree.  I took this photo last fall and thought it would be great for today.  It is very much fall — after the leaves have fallen off the trees.

Today I am thankful for:

  • A fabulous fall break
  • Taking many photos during our time off
  • Having time at home to relax
  • Holiday creamers for my coffee
  • Extra cuddles in the morning
  • Celebrating my loved ones
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Soup for dinner
  • Reading and relaxing
  • The return of our regular routine

I wonder what adventures this week will bring?  I cannot wait to find out.  Have a great one!

Flashback Friday – Fall Beauty

fallback1Hi and Happy Friday!  Yesterday was the first day of autumn or fall, my favorite season of the year.  Did you have a good one?  I did, but the weather sure doesn’t feel like fall, at least not yet.

This photo was taken two years ago in North Carolina.  The colors of the leaves was gorgeous.  I don’t know how this year will be since it has been so dry and hot.  We shall see.

Don’t get me wrong I really like the summer and we always have a great time and enjoy the time we have together.  However, fall is when the weather is the best, our routine comes back, and life is very rich with so many great activities.

There are so many things that I like about the fall:

  • Pumpkin Spice lattes
  • The chill in the air
  • Not sweating on our walks home
  • Celebrating my wedding anniversary with my love
  • Celebrating Ian’s birthday
  • Celebrating my parent’s birthdays
  • Celebrating two nephews’ birthdays
  • Celebrating cousins’ birthdays
  • Football games
  • Hot drinks
  • Cozy blankets
  • Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Baking items
  • Campouts and campfires
  • Premieres of favorite shows
  • Amazing smells and scents
  • Lovely reds, brilliant golds and oranges
  • The crunch of leaves
  • Long sleeve shirts and jeans

I wonder what this fall will bring?  I hope it will be cooler weather, fun times with family and friends, and some great food and drinks.  Take care and enjoy!

TGIF! Time for rest and fun

I don’t know about you but I am so thankful that it is Friday!  I am so ready for the weekend and for us to have some time for fun and relaxation.  The last month has been really hard and I have had a hard time focusing on my writing.  That is frustrating.

So much sadness has been going on recently that putting together coherent thoughts has been difficult.  A friend passed away, another one is now in hospice care, a former co-worker’s son was found dead, people are suffering and hurting, and several friends are undergoing chemo treatments now.

That is so very much to deal with and my heart has been heavy.  However, I still try to find the good in life and be positive each day.  That is hard some days, but I continue to pray, and have been touched by all of the prayer support for these people.  So things are starting to get better.  When they are, I hope to have the desire to write again and more frequently.  I do miss it when I don’t.

This photo is one that calms me and helps me to remember fun times with family and friends.  It is lovely and one of my happy places.  So that is why I decided to post it for today’s blog.  Hope you also have a happy place or things that can help you when you are down.

Also, it is heartbreaking to see so much hate in the news and online.  We seem to have real and extreme problems with those we don’t agree with and I just don’t understand that.  What happened to having differences of opinion, compromising, and respecting someone else’s opinion and ideas?

I grew up learning to appreciate another person’s take on life.  It was enriching and not scary to me.  These days, people seem to be scared and filled with hate towards others.  This has to stop.  We have to be a people again who love others and show kindness to our loved ones and those we don’t know.

As a mother of a child with a loving heart, I don’t want him to grow up thinking it’s okay to be mean, hateful, and judgemental of someone who is different than he is.  Instead, I want him to be loving, kind, and willing to listen to differences and respect them.

A few quotes about hope:

  • “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” — Desmond Tutu
  • “My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” — Maya Angelou
  • “Hope is like the sun, which as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” — Samuel Smiles
  • “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” — Michelle Obama
  • “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from today.” — John Wayne
  • “What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” — Rick Warren

May we always remember to be loving, kind, compassionate, willing to listen to others, and respect those who are different from ourselves.  May we have this weekend to recharge and have some fun.  May we have hope despite all of the pain and suffering.  May we remember that our Lord is there with us through everything.

Tears and Joy

lake.summer.7-27Today we say goodbye to that sweet soul I mentioned last week.  Ian’s dear friend Malachi passed away at 8 years old from brain cancer.  He was a joy to know and made us laugh so much.  Now as I remember him, it is with laughter through my tears.

His funeral is this afternoon and one of the hardest decisions I have ever made as a mother was deciding to have us not go.  You see it’s been hard enough for Ian to process the loss of his friend, much less attend a funeral mass in his honor.  So Kirk and I thought that school and his regular routine would be better for Ian.

Not sure if this was the best decision but Malachi’s dad totally understands.  And, that is a great comfort.  I don’t feel so guilty for not being there in person.  We are there in spirit and praying for the family and friends who have lost this amazing young man.  We are hurting too and clinging to our fond and funny memories.

When we met him, he came right up to Ian at preschool and said “Hi.  I am Malachi.  What is your name?”  Ian told him and they went to play together.  Then a few months later when Ian started full-time, Malachi made a point of saying, “I remember you.”

boys-9-6-2016Each time the boys played together, they had so much fun — whether it was Playmobile, Lego, or cars, they made up stories, made each other laugh, and shared.  Both were only children and got along really well.  They were a joy to watch and listen to.

Selfishly, I wanted to see the two of them grow up together, stay friends, and maybe room in college, go on vacations together, and so many other ideas.  But that was not to be.  The Lord had something else in mind.  So now, this amazing soul is in Heaven having a great time.  We miss getting to see him but are so thankful he is no longer in pain or suffering.

There are some people in our lives who come in and make an amazing impression and he did just that.  He lived an incredible and rich life for someone so very young, he had faith beyond measure, and a wonderful sense of humor.  He loved to help people and joke around with them as well.  He never met a stranger and enjoyed his time with family and friends.

I have learned a lot about friendship, faith, loss, joy, tears, laughter, and so much more from both Malachi and his parents.  I feel that my family is blessed beyond measure to have had these friendships. I will forever be thankful they came into our lives when they did.

May we all savor those relationships we have, make a point to tell those we love them, hug our loved ones, be there when they need us, and remember to laugh and enjoy life.  It is a gift and each day is so very precious.  May we also have joy.