The Blessing of The Dash

Clouds_POD_8-15-14During the holiday season, several of my loved ones have lost those who are very dear to them.  Five of my friends have had family members or friends pass away.  And a few famous people who meant a lot to me have also died.  So this holiday time is very bittersweet.

I have been sad and it has had me thinking about the dash.  In all of our lives there is a date we are born, then the dash, and the year that we die. None of us knows when that second date will be, but we can make the most of our dash.

We can make the most of our life, enjoy the time with our friends and family, try new things, and take risks.  And, we can be blessings to one another, spend time with those we love, tell them that we love them, and live our lives to the fullest.  We can exercise, eat those foods we enjoy, walk in the rain, sing to a favorite song, hug each other, and so much more.

As my friend Gordon D. used to say, never be a grave hugger.  I learned this in my early twenties and it has stuck with me all of these years. His point was to never leave something unsaid, and to be sure to resolve arguments and problems as much as you possibly can.  He didn’t want his friends to have regrets when someone they love passes away.

I try to live this way and make the most of my time with friends and family.  But, I cannot do everything and sometimes have to say no.  And, I am not the best at keeping in touch with people or finishing every task.  For example, I have finished writing the Christmas cards but still have to buy stamps and mail them.  Tomorrow, we will do that.

May we find a way to enjoy our dash and have a great life.  May we help those we love to also have a great life.  May we love, forgive, and actually be involved in life.  We are not spectators after all, but active participants.

May we not wish our lives away or wish we could go back.  May we savor each moment and keep going.  May we help those grieving and realize they need time and lots of love.  There is no right way to grieve or no right time frame.  May we be there for one another.

Quotes about making the most of our life:

  • “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.” ~ Charles Richards
  • “Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.” ~ Wayne Dyer
  • “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” ~ Braveheart
  • “You may delay, but time will not.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
  • “Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.” ~ James Dean
  • “The important thing is not how many years in your life but how much life in your years.” ~ Edward J. Stieglitz

To those dealing with grief, may you be comforted and have fond memories.  And, may we remember to be there as needed and to always love.

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The Blessing of Giving

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERALast night, we watched an amazing telethon to raise money for those displaced in the recent wildfires in the mountains of Tennessee.  The money was being raised for the Dolly Parton Foundation in order to help those who lost their homes.

This foundation is giving $1,000.00 per month for 6 months to these families.  Amazing generosity isn’t it?  And many people stepped up to help her raise this money — Dollar General, Belmont University,  Taylor Swift, CMT, Academy of Country Music, Kenny Chesney, and many more.

There were comments and calls-in by Paul Simon, Keifer Sutherland, Steve Harvey, and others.  And, the talent was fantastic — Cyndi Lauper, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Reba McEntire, Alison Krause, Chris Stapleton, and many others in acoustic performances.

So much generosity and giving and it was a treat to watch and be a part of.  This is what Christmas and the season of giving is all about.  I just hope that we remember to live this kindness throughout the year.

As Dolly said, these are her people and she wants to help them.  During the telethon she even said this isn’t about me, it’s about them.  She has always remembered where she came from and gives back.  A fine example of the blessing of giving.

Another recent story of giving is of a Santa who was there when a terminally ill boy was dying.  The hospital called him to say this boy had one last wish to see Santa before he died.  He had to go so fast that he just had his Santa suspenders on.

So this man went and talked to this boy.  He told him, “You are my number one elf.”  The boy said, “I am?”  Santa then held him as he died in his arms.  Cue the water works.  So much sad about this story but also so much positive and loving.  Thanks to Sam Venable for this amazing story.

Again, giving with all of someone’s heart.  Something to strive for and to practice each day. Sometimes giving is money and other times it is our time and attention.  May we discern when the giving is needed and what others do need.  And then may we give.

A few quotes about giving:

  • “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” — Mother Teresa
  • “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill
  • “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”– Kahlil Gibran
  • “A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”– Steve Maraboli
  • “Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.”– Roy T. Bennett

I wonder when the next chance for giving will be?  I will be on the lookout and ready to do what I can. God’s blessings to you!!

Hello December!

cropped-champagne-glasses.jpgCan you believe it’s the first day of December?  I sure can’t.   It is amazing that we are now in the last month of the year.  2015 has gone by so fast!  We just got back to school yesterday from a long Thanksgiving break and now we have three weeks until Christmas break.  Wow.  My how that time does fly.

I have always loved December.  It is the month of my birthday, my brother’s birthday, anniversaries, the Advent season, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, lots of fun with family and friends, special parties, gifts, crafts, New Year’s Eve, and so much more.  So many beginnings this month and so much to celebrate.  I look forward to a great December.

candles GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAToday (which is my birthday), I am thankful for:

  • An amazing Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family
  • Laughing with an old family friend
  • Opening special gifts from loved ones
  • Hearing my son say “Happy Birthday Mom”
  • A special birthday hug and kiss from my hubby
  • Another year of blessings
  • Lunch out with loved ones
  • My family and friends
  • Reasonably good health
  • Birthday wishes and old photos
  • The fun and craziness of the month of December
  • Holiday parties and festivities
  • Advent suppers and services
  • Counting my blessings
  • Holiday specials
  • Christmas movies and cartoons
  • Trimming the tree
  • Baking and making gifts
  • Drawing names for a gift exchange
  • Choosing a needy family to help
  • Having Ian pick toys for an angel tree gift
  • Having time to celebrate
  • Listening to “The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” by Andy Williams
  • Warm socks and sweaters
  • A glass of wine with a meal
  • Hot tea or coffee in the morning
  • Reminiscing about our younger years with my siblings and friends
  • My parents and all that they have done for me and provided for me

I wonder what fun adventures we will have on this 1st of December?  I can’t wait to find out.  Hope you have a great one too!

The Blessing of Play Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday, I saw a commercial that bugged me.  It was of a toddler holding a cell phone right before a ride in the car.  The child’s mother is setting the phone so it is safe for this kid to use. This is after he almost sent out an old photo of his mother to her entire company.

My first thought is why is a child that age holding his mother’s real and very expensive phone and how did he get access to her e-mail?  My next thought was, why does a child need to be entertained like that in the car?

Whatever happened to looking out the window at the world around us?  Or talking to others in the car? Or listening to music or talk radio? Or just sitting still for a little while? Or playing games of looking for letters and numbers? Or looking for different license plates?  Ian can’t use devices or read in the car since he occasionally gets car sick. (He gets that from me unfortunately.)

This commercial also made me wonder if a child who needs a device of some kind in the car, what does he or she need at home?  Would he or she always have to be entertained?  Would this child know how to play?

One of my favorite things in the world is to see Ian play and entertain himself.  He can play for hours and have a great time.  Perhaps that is unusual, I don’t know.  But it is a beautiful thing to see and a blessing.  (December will be a month of blessings in my postings.  Hope you will enjoy. Now back to the blog.)

He is creative and has a great imagination.  He creates scenarios and activities for his Lego figures, or his stuffed animals, or his toy soldiers.  I love to watch him and to listen.  I listen to his toys talking to each other in different voices and inflections.  This also entertains me as well.

Kirk and I have made a point to be sure that he has regular play time and for that I am very thankful.  Children need to play.  For that matter, so do adults.  We also try to have some down time or play time for us.  Sometimes we all just hang out at home, read, talk, play games, or watch movies.  These are times that I definitely cherish.

My father taught me that work is very important.  But he also taught the importance of vacation, down time or play time, and time to relax.  He was one who has always loved to relax and play.  He is good at it and my siblings and I have followed in his footsteps.  Thanks Dad for that lesson!

Today I am thankful for:

  • Sitting on the floor and playing with Ian
  • Listening to Ian explain his Lego creations
  • Vacations with family
  • Christmas movies
  • Hot chocolate and popcorn
  • Making cookies and cakes with Kirk and Ian
  • Upcoming Christmas break
  • Playing board games with Ian and Kirk
  • Walking on the beach with my dad and family

December is a month of preparation and staying very busy.  I just hope that with all of the activities, appointments, and commitments that we can take time for play and to relax.

December Blessings

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAIt is hard to believe that it is the first day of December.  The first day of the last month of the year.  Wow, where did the time go? I love December 1st since it is my birthday.  It is and has been a very special day for me for many, many years.  My family makes a big deal out of birthdays and I love that.  We take time to celebrate each of us and our uniqueness.

Today, I feel overwhelmed with blessings!  From my fabulous weekend of love, family, thanksgiving, and great food.  We had a blast on turkey day with friends and family, ate terrific food, took some wonderful family photos, and watched one of the funniest movies ever — Clue.  There are so many great one-liners.  I just wish I had taken more pictures with my camera!

Then on Friday, Kirk, Ian, and I enjoyed being home and getting our house ready for Christmas.  We puttered around, put up the tree, hung ornaments on it, and then just vegged out.  Ian really enjoyed helping and put our manger under the tree. We stayed in our pjs all day and loved every minute of it.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAOn Saturday, we hosted my birthday party with the family. Great time!  Kirk made his delicious chili and made my cake.  I ventured out that morning at 7:30 a.m. to buy our last-minute items.  Then everyone came over and we had a great time.  I received some wonderful gifts and am so very thankful for all of my loved ones. It was a special evening.

Again, I just wish I had taken more photos.  We have a silly tradition of switching the candles around on our cakes.  I don’t remember who started that or when but it is fun and keeps things lively.

Sunday, we went to church and had a great service.  The church is lovely with all of the Christmas decorations and the advent wreath and candles. Ian gave out the popcorn that people had so nicely ordered from him.  We appreciate the support for his Cub Scout troop.  We ate lunch at our house and enjoyed more of the tasty chili.  Mom and Dad stayed for most of the afternoon and Mom and I watched a fun Christmas movie.

Today, we woke up and Kirk and Ian wished me a happy birthday and sang Happy Birthday to me.  We then took Ian to school. He was ready to be back and see everyone after a long weekend.  Kirk and I will have lunch — just the two of us — and that will be fun.  Then after school, we will dine out at one of my favorite Japanese Steakhouses for dinner prior to Ian’s pack meeting.  Each Monday night is busy with Cub Scout activities and today is no exception.

The week will continue with fun and blessings with our first dinner and Advent church service on Wednesday and then assisting in Ian’s room one day this week, and plenty of other fun and adventures are to be had.

Today I am so thankful for:

  • My family who knows me so well
  • Thoughtful birthday gifts
  • Fabulous new accessories
  • Birthday cards that make me laugh and cry happy tears
  • Sipping hot tea while chatting with my mom, aunt, sister, and cousin
  • Special photos with my parents
  • Play time for Ian and his grandparents
  • Ian having a blast with his cousins
  • Laughing like crazy over a funny movie
  • The lights of our Christmas tree
  • Making a wish as a birthday candle is blown out
  • Family clumping
  • The family circle of prayer
  • Birthday wishes from friends and family
  • My faith and beliefs
  • Old photos
  • Holding hands with loved ones

I wonder if I will be able to cherish each and every minute of my special day?  I plan to do just that.  Thanks so much to all of my loved ones who are helping to make it special!  You truly do rock!!