Prayers, Tears, and Comfort

graceThis morning as I logged into Facebook, I read several things which game me pause — the death of a young child, the pending death of a parent, surgery of a friend, sickness of friends, cancer treatments of family and friends, and other losses.

Tears came to my eyes and I said this prayer, “Lord, please give comfort to this family as only you can, please stretch out your healing hand to those who are sick, help us be a comfort to one another and help as needed, and please watch over us. Amen.”

The child, Patrick, passed away on Saturday.  He wasn’t quite a year old and had been sick with congenital heart disease.  His mother has been writing a blog about his illness, which is very touching.  I didn’t know them very well but this boy’s aunt is a friend of mine from high school.  I also knew her brother, Patrick’s dad.

Another friend has been called in by hospice for her father.  He has been ill and now the family is gathering with him.  It will be time for them to say goodbye.  So hard to lose a parent, no matter how old we are.

Also a dear friend is having another surgery this morning.  She has already had several and hopes this will be the last one and that comfort will be coming soon.  Other friends are sick and having issues, and some are in the midst of chemo treatments.

prayingSo much loss, so much heartache, so many tears, and so much pain.  Yet there is hope and comfort.  Comfort in hugs, comfort in knowing our loved ones will see us through the pain, comfort in prayers, comfort in our faith, comfort in our memories, and comfort in time.

There is an expression that time heals all wounds.  I am not sure if it heals them or if we figure out a way to deal with them as time goes on. Perhaps it is a combination of both.

Here are a few verses of scripture that are especially poignant this morning:

  • Ecclesiastes 3:4 — a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
  • Psalm 30:5 — Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
  • Matthew 5:4 — Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  • Philippians 4:7 — And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Psalm 23:4 — Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

May God be with you at the beginning of this new week.  If you are in pain or are suffering loss, may you find comfort.

September 26 – Best

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s Photo-A-Day Challenge is Best.  This is one of the best sunset pictures that I took two summers ago at the beach.  I love the colors, the ocean, the sand, and the reflection. Standing at this beach is one of my favorite places to watch a sunset.  I have probably taken hundreds, if not thousands, of photos there over my lifetime.  To me, it is the best place for a sunset.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines best as “better than all others in quality or value” and “most skillful, talented, or successful.”  With that kind of definition, it means a lot be called the Best.  The Best in Show, Best Actress, Best Picture, Best Director, the Best recipe in a contest, a Best friend, my Sunday best, etc.  All of these titles are honors.

Last night, one of the best players in major league baseball played his last home game.  After a 20-year career, Derek Jeter finished an amazing game.  He will be missed by Yankee fans and all baseball fans.  It was refreshing to see his long-term loyalty to his team and his city.  The amazing Cal Ripkin and Tony Gwynn were also loyal to their teams for many years and the best at their game.

My favorite sport is baseball and my favorite team is the San Diego Padres.  Tony Gwynn was Mr. Padre for many years.  When he died earlier this year, it was very sad for baseball and that fine city.  He truly will be missed and was the best.

The best is also something my family discusses regularly. Each morning, I talk with Ian about doing his best at school and in all that he does.  I think that although he may make mistakes, it is still important for him to keeping trying and working hard. As he is getting older, he seems to understand that more and more.

Ian joined Cub Scouts this year and is loving it.  Their motto, which he has learned, is “Do Your Best.”  Great advice for the boys to hear and learn more about.  I also like that they learn about the importance of hard work, teamwork, and participation.  Our den and pack have been amazing blessings for us this year.

Here are a few quotes about Best:

  • “The best way to find yourself is lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi
  • “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” — Theodore Roosevelt
  • “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” — Ernest Hemingway
  • “Do what you love and give it your very best. Whether it’s baseball or business, or the theater, or any field. If you don’t love what you’re doing and you can’t give it your best, get out of it.  Life is too short.  You’ll be an old man before you know it.” — Al Lopez
  • “I do the very best I know how — the best I can; and I mean to keep it up to the very end.” — Abraham Lincoln
  • “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up.” — Mark Twain

May we do our best today and try our hardest!  Have a wonderful Friday!

Throwback Thursday – Ian

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne week from today, Ian will be 7 years old.  My baby is growing up so fast! For today’s Throwback Thursday, I decided to post an old photo of Ian.  He wasn’t quite 2 years old when this was taken.  I love this closeup picture of him.

He has always been a happy child who likes to smile a lot.  And, with his blue eyes, long eyelashes, and dimples, he is so cute.  Of course, I am a little partial.  Being the mom to this sweet soul has been an amazing gift.  My hubby and I continue to learn so much and are amazed at all our boy can now do.

Being a parent has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  It has also been the best and the most rewarding.  I wouldn’t trade it or our amazing Ian for anything.

Ian is excited about turning 7 years old and realizes he is becoming an even bigger boy.  Smiles will be all around our house for the following week.  We are so very blessed!

Today I am thankful for:

  • Seeing Ian’s entire face light up when he is happy
  • Dimples and a gleam in his eye
  • Ian loving to read his library books
  • A boy who loves to learn new things
  • An upcoming weekend with my hubby and son
  • The excitement of a Monday night Cub Scout meeting
  • A fun week as we celebrate Ian’s 7th birthday

I wonder how much fun we will have this last week of Ian being 6 years old.  I am sure we will have a blast and come up with lots of fun things to do!!

September 24 – Loud

Sept.24_POD_LoudToday’s photo challenge is Loud.  I decided to include an old picture of my family.  We are loud, boisterous, silly, theatrical, and fun.  This photo is from the early 1990s.

Come to think of it, both the 1980s and 1990s were loud — with the music, clothing, and hairdos.  And, I loved it!  That was the era that I grew up in, graduated from high school, went to college, earned my degree, and then started my first job.

Many years ago, Saturday Night Live did a sketch called The Loud Family.  We called them “The Louds.”  This family would yell at each other at the dinner table.  My family mimicked that a few times and it was so funny.

I don’t think we meant to be loud, but all of us are passionate and have good lungs, so our voices carry.  That and plenty of singing and theater experience has helped all of us to project our voices.

Now, Ian is carrying on our fine family tradition.  He often has a loud voice and loves to talk and play. I think he too will have time in his life on a stage.

I love my original family and all of our fun times we have had together over the years.  My parents, sister, and brother are my favorite people.  Now all of us kids are married and have kids.

Dinners together were always important growing up and still are to all of us.  Now, we have all of the kids, as well as cousins, aunts, uncles and others to join in the fun.

I wonder when I will get to be loud again with my goofy family?  I sure hope it’s soon!  Love you all.

A Chill In The Air

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAh, fall!  This is one of my favorite times of the year!  Fall starts either this evening or tomorrow.  Several people on the news have said it starts at 10 p.m. ish tonight, but two of my calendars say it is tomorrow.  Anyone know for sure?

Anyway, it is starting and I am thrilled!  I love it.  This morning we had to get out the sweatshirts to wear over our clothes on the way to school.  The temperature was 57 degrees, the sun was shining, and the sky was a gorgeous blue with not a cloud in the sky.

This photo was taken several years ago during a car commercial shoot at the beginning of October.  Ian was one of the kids going trick-or-treating.  I thought this would be fun to show the chill — by wearing the jacket.

Over the weekend, we enjoyed the coming fall with some cooler weather, some outside time in the perfect weather, a short rain storm, and lovely blue skies.

My mom and I went shopping at Trader Joe’s and both bought several pumpkin items.  YUMMY!  We savored some Pumpkin ice cream and I had a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Today, I am thankful for:

  • Time to play games with family
  • A home cooked meal that my mother made
  • Hot tea on a cool morning
  • The crisp air and gorgeous morning
  • Pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cereal bars, and pumpkin spice lattes
  • Wearing sweatshirts and flip-flops
  • Finishing a great book
  • Going to the library with Ian and watching him choose a book
  • The start of a new week

I wonder what adventures we will have as fall begins? I can’t wait to find out!

Throwback Thursday – The Drells

The drells at Mission Beach

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I am going way back to one that was taken in September 1972 in Mission Beach, California. I am not sure if it was taken at the beach or the Bay side, at least I think this is the location.

It is of me and my sister, who I called The Drells.  When I was little, I couldn’t say the girls, so this name was created. This was taken a few months before our brother was born.

I came across this photo while scanning some pictures a few years ago.  I just saw it again yesterday and loved it.

We often wore matching outfits and apparently these bikinis are one of those outfits.  I am the brunette and my sister is the blond.  I don’t have a clue what we were doing but we seem to be having fun.

We both have loved the beach for a long, long time. You can see that we clearly like having our toes in the sand.

Today, I am thankful for:

  • A sister who is a dear friend, amazing woman, and a great teacher
  • My brother, who we met soon after this picture was taken, who is also awesome
  • Our parents who showed us the love of the ocean, the beach, and the importance of family
  • Their spouses and children and my hubby and son who have enriched our family so much
  • Mission Beach where I have enjoyed my time with four generations of my family as well as dear friends
  • Sand in my toes — both as an almost 5-year-old and now
  • The beauty, smell, and feel of the ocean
  • Watching the sun set into the ocean
  • My grandparents who bought a very special home at the beach
  • Amazing family vacations
  • Cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends who made the beach time so special
  • Adding friends to the love of the neighborhood
  • Memories and old photos such as this one

I wonder when the next time will be that I am at the beach with my sister and the rest of our family.  I hope it will be soon.  After all, we do always have a fun and memorable time!

September 17 – Key

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s photo challenge word is Key.  I thought it would be fun to use a photo of Ian when he was a baby trying out the computer keys. “What letter does my name start with again…” he seems to be asking.  “I — now where is it on this keyboard?  Can I get some help please?”

At almost 7 years old, he does quite well on the computer and we have a different monitor that isn’t so big.

There are also keys on a piano, keys that open our house or start our cars, the key to happiness, the keys to success, and a key to our heart.

I love to hear piano music and the tickling of those 88 keys.  I know a few people who are great pianists.  I am still learning and hope to be able to spend more time practicing.

Keys are things that we use every day.  Who hasn’t been frustrated when locking a key in a car?  ARG?! New cars don’t even have keys, which is me is a little strange, but a fob instead.

Here are a few quotes about keys:

  • “Don’t be discouraged. It is often the last key that opens the lock.” — Unknown
  • “There is no key to happiness.  The door is always open.” — Unknown
  • “Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” — Albert Schweitzer
  • “Hard work is the key to success.” — Anonymous
  • “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” — Bill Cosby

I wonder what keys I will be using today?  More than likely the house key and car key, the computer keys, and hopefully the piano keys.

Feels Like Fall

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know about you, but I love fall!!!  The weather is cooler, the leaves change, and pumpkin is everywhere.

Fall/autumn doesn’t officially start until September 23, but it is starting to feel like it.  This photo was taken two years ago during the best time of year for leaves changing in Tennessee and North Carolina.  I love all of these colors!

Today I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season and it was great! So yummy.  And, we have pumpkin spice cream cheese, which is also fabulous.

This morning when we left for church, I felt a slight chill in the air and grinned from ear to ear.  After the very humid summer, this was such a nice change.

In the fall, football games can be watched all weekend, the fun of the World Series can be enjoyed, we can dress up in Halloween costumes and visit our neighbors, evening walks and bike rides are more pleasant, and we can enjoy s’mores at a bonfire.

It is also the time of year for my son’s birthday, my anniversary with my sweet hubby, our nephew’s wedding, another nephew’s birthday, a niece’s birthday, birthdays of cousins and in-laws, and my parents’ birthdays.  It is a time of a lot of celebration and fun.

Also in the fall are long sleeve shirts, jeans, socks, boots, hot drinks, chili, soups, sweatshirts, baking pumpkin bread and cookies, pumpkin pie, butternut squash soup, the smells of apples and cinnamon, fires in the fireplace, crunchy leaves, the amazing reds, yellows, and oranges on the trees, hayrides, and extra-long cuddles.

I love the summer out in California since it isn’t humid (at least not to me), and I love the fall in Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. To me it is the prettiest at this time of year.

I wonder when the leaves will start changing this year?  I can’t wait to see them.  Happy Fall!

Throwback Thursday – 9/11

Twin.Towers_1986“Where were you when the world stopped turning?”  asks a question by Alan Jackson in a song he recorded about the 9/11 tragedy.  Thirteen years later, I remember exactly where I was.  I was at work and we were watching the news since the first tower was hit.

Then, before our eyes, a second plane hit the second tower.  It didn’t seem to go off course, but flew directly into the tower. Chills washed over me as I realized that life would never be the same again.

Over the course of the next few hours, the Pentagon was also hit, the plane went down in the fields of Pennsylvania, and the Twin Towers fell, 1st one and then the other — a site like nothing I have ever seen.  The fact it was really happening and not a movie was stunning.  A day we shall never forget.

That day and since we have seen the worst in people and the best.  We have seen acts of terrorism and amazing bravery, good and bad, and stunning violence.  It does amaze me what people can do to one another.  Yet on the flip side, it also pleases me greatly when we can reach out and help one another.

Heroes were born that morning.  I was amazed by the work of the fire fighters, paramedics, EMTs, police officers, doctors, nurses, military personnel, and everyone who helped during the aftermath of this tragedy.  I thank those today who are continuing this amazing work.  The fact that you go in when called and desperately needed is amazing.

This photo is of the Twin Towers circa 1986.  I was in New York City for a high school chorus trip.  We went to a Broadway show, to Central Park,  a few other sites, and competed in a competition in New Jersey.  I happened to snap this photo and am so glad that I did. This was my second trip to NYC.  The first was taken in 8th grade, also on a chorus trip.  That time we went to Macy’s and the United Nations building.  I hope to go back one day.

Since 9/11, I have noticed in photos, news reports, movies and TV shows filmed before 2001, the Twin Towers are there standing high above the city.  It was quite a stark contrast to see the NYC skyline post 9/11.

Today I want to pray for all of the families and friends who were directly impacted by this day 13 years ago.  My heart goes out to the people who said goodbye to their loved ones that morning, not realizing they’d never see them again.

May we remember to be kind and loving to one another and not take our life or loved ones for granted.  And may we never forget.

Homework and Quizzes

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA“Mom, first grade is hard work,” Ian told me yesterday afternoon.  He said that as he was finishing his homework.  “Yes it is Ian,” I said, nodding in agreement.

“I don’t like this homework, Mom,” he added.  “Ian, I understand, but you can do it and you are a smart boy.”  He seemed to like hearing that. “And, your job is to learn and part of that job is homework,” I explained.

Homework.  I remember it well from my days in school.  Some days the backpack was very heavy.  Speaking of backpacks, while we were eating dinner, Ian asked me, “Mom, did they have backpacks when you were in school?”  I told him, “Yes there were backpacks.”

He also informed me that a boy said he wouldn’t be doing his homework.  I told Ian that wasn’t a choice for him.  He will be doing the homework that is given to him.  I also said that boy will more than likely get in trouble with his teacher if he doesn’t do it.  “Ian, your homework helps you with learning and is part of your grade,” I told him. He seemed to get that.

So the routine of homework each night begins.  It is taking some getting used to but I know that he will get used to it.  We just need a few weeks to adjust to this new routine. The nice thing is that his teacher is primarily giving homework from Monday night to Thursday night, so we will have a break on the weekend.  At least for now.  We will certainly do our best to enjoy that!

This week, he has one book to read each evening.  A piece of paper comes with the book, for the student to initial, a parent to initial, how the book was read (by self, with parent, or by parent), and how long it took to read it.  We read his book for school and were done very quickly.

Before he read the book from class, he spent 45 minutes reading a chapter book, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  He had picked this out at the school library.  I helped him sound out words, but a lot of them he did guessing on. Clearly he loves to read and is doing very well with that.

I have to say I am very proud of him and love to hear him read.  It is an amazing gift that we started back when he was a baby and we signed him up for Imagination Library.  That is a program that is fantastic and provides books to children from birth to 5 years old, at no cost to the family. It was a great way to instill the love of reading.  We also regularly went to the library and have been reading to him ever since.

The thing that is new is the word study or spelling.  Each week, we will receive a list of words to work on with our child.  Then on Friday, there will be a quiz.  This week the quiz is a day early, on Thursday, so there isn’t as much time to prepare.  He is familiar with all of the words so he should do fine.  This afternoon, we will do a practice quiz.

Each evening we have been practicing and that so far seems to be working well. After school, he gets his snack and has a short break, and then right to the practice/homework time.  I told him we have to do that before time to play.  He may complain some but is understanding this is the way it will be done.

I wonder how the rest of our first week of real homework will go?  I think it will be fine.