Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life After The Harvest

As I sit looking over the breathtaking view of the mid-morning farm, the bright blue sky and the sound of the waterfall in the pond, I am in awe of how quickly autumn is fading. The beautiful crimson and gold that adorned the trees only a couple of weeks ago are quickly turning to darker shades of brown. I can't help but think how this transition only parallels to how quickly change will come in the next few weeks.


I know he will be fine and is ready to step into his own greatness, after all, that is what we have been preparing him for the last 19 years. I am so proud yet at the same time, melancholy.....just as he brought change to my life 20 years ago, he will change my life once again.
Autumn; a time to harvest, to assess how well the growing season produced, a  time to put away the tools used to work hard during the growing season and a time to look at the bountiful fruits that  have been produced....I would say the fruits of our harvest have been exceptionally good.................


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Fast forward a few short weeks........

November 2012 ………2012? Where has the time gone? I’m sure if I sit here and travel in reverse in my mind, I will find most of the years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and  seconds that have slipped by while I was busy living my life.  It is also possible that more of those precious moments of time were wasted or idled away than I would want to admit.

Today marks the beginning of the final week of my role as “mom” as it has been for the last 39 years, as I prepare to release my baby boy into the world to make a life of his own. Mixed emotions surround me as I prepare for the adjustment of an empty house, the absence of piles of dirty laundry and dirty dishes in the sink, not to mention the clean laundry that never makes it to the drawer.



Some of the other things I will have to adjust to is not hearing him ask if I worked out or ran on the treadmill today? It seems that at the ripe old age of 19, he has become concerned about my health and wants me to take care of myself. For that I am grateful and grateful that all those years of teaching him to eat right, insisting he take just 2 bites of food he thought was yucky and only allowing him a “sweet treat” when he had a “happy plate” at dinner time, is paying off. Not only is he concerned for my health, he is very conscious of the need to keep himself healthy. The days of the     ”Blue Moon” cabinet are long gone, but the lessons taught will live on!


As I began to write, I wasn’t sure what direction my thoughts would take me……. would I pour out my fears of what might be beyond the doors of the home he had grown up in or would my tears blur the words I wrote as I thought about the loss of the last child that depended on me for unconditional love or would my words be filled with doubt that he was ready to face the future without his mom? 


Since I know he would not want me to mention any of that mushy mom stuff, I will focus on the fact that since the day he was born, I have prepared for this day. The day he would be able to step out into the world a man, ready to take care of himself; to be able to make decisions and learn from them if they were the wrong ones; to be respectful and courteous to others, but not let others take advantage of him; to know I was always there and ready to support him and supply him with the things he needed and most of the things he wanted. Some of the things I wanted for him were not things he wanted and that’s ok; it taught him to make decisions for himself and taught me he was a person with thoughts and ideas that were different from mine.  I have learned so much from him, things I wish I had known while raising his older brothers, like not taking the crazy stuff boys do so seriously, that they grow up to be responsible no matter how much you worry, scold and fret. I am also secure in the fact that when I am no longer watching over him, he will still have his Heavenly Father to walk by his side, watch over him and supply his needs and I am secure in the fact that he knows his Heavenly Father as well.  



I am thankful for a son, that has been such a joy to parents that were looking forward to watching their teenage children grow into adults 20 years ago, hoping to make it through the difficulties of their teen years and come though on the other side as survivors. But, they found that God was not ready to let them off that easy. I am thankful for a son who made it easy on his parents by breezing through his teenage years without the difficulty that they could have faced, because they would not have had the energy to deal with it! I am thankful for the opportunity to not only teach him the things moms teach their children on a daily basis, preparing them for life, but the opportunity to be a part of his education to prepare him for life in the work world. Homeschooling gives parents insight to their child that they would otherwise miss. So, I am truly thankful he wanted to be educated at home during his high school years, giving his parents those years to learn about who he really is.


So will turning my son over to the USAF be difficult? Will I mourn the loss of my last child..... leaving me to adjust to another life time? No way!!! I will pray for those who will now take on the responsibility, I will watch in anticipation as he takes his place in the world he is walking in to, and I will rejoice in the fact that my job is over and that I am free to ask, “What’s Next”?




                               

Friday, October 12, 2012

Season of Change In Paris (Landing)



October..... such a  fascinating month! With the arrival of October, summer finally comes to an end, nature sheds its bright green foliage and begins to dress up in colorful shades of red, yellow and orange, the mornings  become cool and crisp, the haze of humidity gives way to bright blue skies and the Branches Sunday School ladies retreat to a secluded hideaway weekend in the mist of God's colorful Autumn Handiwork........

This marked the 4th Annual Ladies Retreat and just as in years past, this excited group make our way from different directions, from home, from work, from Dickson, from Nashville, from Clarksville......the direction we come from is not as important as the direction we are going because we have waited a year to come together again.

Laughter is on the menu as we gather around the table to share the evening meal. Soon the laughter turns to howls, leaving our faces sore and making it hard to maintain a proper posture while holding our sides. Updates on family and friends and the latest happenings in the world around us become standup comedy routines.

The regular routine of game night is replaced by the sharing of a simple story of a New Year's dream of restoring the love and passion for the things God has been so gracious with and seeing those dreams becoming a reality by His Grace. Sharing is what  "sisters" do best, without judging  and with confidence in the fact that what happens at Paris Landing stays at Paris Landing and in our hearts. From serious to hilarious, the bond between us is strengthen and with giggles and yawns, bedtime arrives well after midnight as the sound of the cool fall rain on the roof sings us to sleep.

Morning arrives on golden sunbeams streaming through the wall of windows that open to the deck. The air has taken on the freshness and crispness of fall after the rain of the night before. No one is in a hurry as we take turns with our morning routines, getting ready to meet the day. Breakfast is delayed as we wait for the arrival of one of our own who has had a minor travel setback. But soon she arrives with yummy bagels in tow and once again  we gather around the table, feeling blessed by God's goodness that protects us and sustains us.  The change in temperature has brought another change in the regular routine and the annual walk is set aside as we settle back and discover our true colors. It is amazing how discovering little things about yourself puts other things in prospective.

          With new found aspects of our character, we pile in and head out for the shoe store!

With bargain finds tucked away, the prospect of a different kind of treat for next year is researched and a spa holiday begins to formulate. Breaking tradition again, we make our way to an Octoberfest at a nearby church. Browsing the booths and attractions, the aroma of the grilled delicacies appeal to our palettes and we break for lunch. Before leaving, the bake sale beckons us and we zero in on a scrumptious pan of Brownies with Mocha Frosting......mmmmm, shoe shopping and chocolate; two main passions of the American woman!

Then it is on to the book store that has a sale just for us!......well, it might just be the sale is an annual event at the same time as our annual event, but it does make us feel special and we always take advantage of our special sale, each clutching our precious Bibles, books and gifts as we exit, followed by  warm goodbys from the owner and staff, inviting us back again next year.

Finally arriving back at the Chalet, we now refer to as home, it's "shoes on the runway" as shoes are modeled and admired by all.

Dinner on our last night together consisted of a delicious and healthy salad bar and then we start digging into that pan of Chocolate Guilt. With every bite, the sound of pure pleasure can be heard and feeling guilty was not on anybody's mind. Maybe the guilt will surface next week when we have trouble with our clothes being a little snug, afterall, we did ditch the morning walk!!!
With the fireplace giving us a warm and cozy feeling and the temperture outside becoming chilled, we settle in for a relaxing evening where topics vary from present relatives that connects us to long ago discoveries on our family tree.

As the late night eventually turns into early morning, we rise and begin to pack for the trip back to our prespective homes. Sitting around the table once again for our final meal together, we each take turns with our own contribution to our devotion time. It is amazing how each of us can share something different and it all falls together like a puzzle to make an impression we can take home with us.
The clock has no mercy on us as we wanted to linger, so with our final goodbys, the weekend was over, leaving us to dream about 12 months in the future when we would do it all over again........

Thank you Lord for Friendship and Laughter

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January.........The Beginning

January 2012......Mama had a birthday this month and if she were still here on earth, she would have been 76 years old. I want to dedicate the first month of the new year to my mama and to my sisters.....just as we look to the new year as a new beginning, we are thankful to our heavenly Father for giving us our own beginning with a mother who always put her girls first and opened her heart to everyone God put in her life.........

Mama would be so surprised we have made it to the year 2012! She was so certain the world would end and we would all be home in heaven before we saw the beginning of another century. Well, the world still stands, but she couldn't wait around any longer and went to be with our Lord in 1997.

Well, Mama, if you are watching from that little "Cabin in the Corner of Glory Land" you always sang about, you know we still miss you and carry your memories in our heart. And if I were guessing, God had something greater for you than a little cabin......He was, no doubt,  waiting to welcome you into your "Stately Mansion" that you now share with our  sweet daddy.


Mama, Dessie Mai Spears, was born on January 8, 1936,  the 4th child and 3rd daughter to Grady and America Spears.  She grew up in a large family of 11 children but her oldest brother died at the age of 12, so she barely remembered him.
I remember growing up and visiting my grand parents on Sunday and seeing all my cousins, aunts and uncles. In a book I have started and hope to finish one day, I recall those Sundays at Mama and Papa Spears' house.

"Sunday at Mama and Papa’s was a treat. My sisters and I got to play with a whole different set of cousins. Mama came from a large family of 10 children. Actually, there had been another sibling, the oldest boy who had died at the age of 12 with appendicitis. Mama had 3 brothers and 6 sisters; she was the 3rd from the oldest living children. In the early years, mama and her 2 older sisters were the only ones with children but slowly the family grew…. 
 
Going to Mama and Papa’s was the highlight for our mama after a long week; this was an event we all got dressed up for. Mama would dress her girls in little hand-made dresses she had proudly sown or altered from hand-me-downs. Thinking back to those days, I can imagine the excitement  mama must have felt getting ready to go home and visit her family. She was such a young girl at the time, married and already a mom. My memories are vivid when there was only my baby sister and me. Mama was about 20 years old at the time and she was raising a family among her "new family" who were practically strangers; how exciting it was to go home and visit with her mother and sisters. The laughter would echo from the kitchen as they prepared the Sunday meal. When the meal was ready, the men always ate first.  When they were finished, the dishes were washed and dried, then the table was set for the women to gather and eat. When they finished their meal, the dishes were washed again and the children finally were called to the table. There was always enough food for everyone, but occasionally all that was left of the fried chicken were backs and wings. Mama later told her girls she didn’t like making the children wait ‘til last’ and that is why at our mama’s house, the children were always served first." 


 


It is hard to imagine Mama as a child and young girl. but pictures tell the story when we are not there to see for ourselves. 




 

   

Mama was sweet 16 and  daddy was 26 when they fell in love and got married. It was not uncommon at that time for girls to marry early and they usually married older men.  We grew up listening to the stories mama told us about how they had meet and married.


                      Happy Birthday Mama......... it doesn't manner how many years go by, you will always be forever young in our hearts. The lives of your children and your grandchildren are so much richer by having you as the beginning of who we were, who we  are and who we will become.



Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year....Moving Forward

 December 31st 2011- another year has come and gone. I have struggled to find the words as to how I would like to embrace the new year, to make it different or more productive than the last. Resolution is a word that seems so shallow....resolve what? What problems did I encounter last year that I need to resolve in this new year? Well, yes, I need to shed some weight, be more active.....really need this, my metabolism has vanished....organize and de-clutter......stick to a budget....all the obvious things we let get out of control.
But, all these things just don't appeal to me as I think about writing on the pages of my book of 2012. 

As I reflect on these things and on the past 12 months, I am drawn to reflect on Philippians 3:12-14

"I don't mean to say I am perfect. I haven't learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us." (The Living Bible)

So, what do I want for 2012? Where do I want to direct my energies and embrace what lies ahead?.......I want to Fall in Love!
Now before everyone gets the wrong idea and rumors start flying.......I want to fall in love with life, with everything God has put in my life and with everything God has planned for me.  Do you remember falling in love?....how everything was new and exciting, when you woke up in the morning there was a "Joy" and "Excitement" in your heart that carried you through your day and "Enthusiasm" bubbled from every thing making it hard to go to sleep at night because you didn't want to miss anything? I want to feel that "Joy, Excitement and Enthusiasm" each day of 2012!
I have a decorative plate that has a quote, "Don't let the Weeds grow up in your Garden of Dreams". Now, I know that to dream is to hope. Faith, Hope and Love go hand in hand and without these three, God's promises are being denied. This past year has had some challenges and somewhere along the way, I have allowed the joy that motivates the passion in my Garden of Dreams has been choked out by the negative weeds of life.

"I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I want to "fall in love" with spending time with my Father in Heaven to gather the strength I need each day to keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be.......... I want to "fall in love"with spending time with my precious family because time is really all that matters when it comes to family......I want to "fall in love"with my church and extending my time to others in need..........I want to "fall in love" with rekindling friendships that I have neglected, losing that connection of those who  have touched my life along the way,  I want to " fall in love"with the job that God graciously put me in and gave me the passion to continue in it  for 35 years and I want to fall in love with the "business of my dreams" that will allow me to reach out and bless others and will replace my job in the near future. 
"I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us." 
"All my days were written in Your Book and planned before a single one of them began (Psalm 139:16)

My New Years Resolution is to follow the plan He has for me......and to cultivate my Garden of Dreams to His Glory ...........
------That Being Said-----

2011 brought with it many blessings, the announcement of a new addition to our family, a grandson from Ethiopia, Isaiah James Griffith, who hopefully will join his forever family this year.Wish I had a picture to share but that will come............




The birth of another grandson, Charlie Braydon Reid, joining his now 4 year old brother, Jaylon.





We also watched our son, Alex and granddaughter, Caitlin,
turn 18 years old, graduate from high school and enter college.






We were proud to see our grandson, TJ,
enter the armed forces,





We were there to see our granddaughter
Tracie Lee in her first Miss Teen Pageant

















and saw granddaughter Lauren turn "sweet sixteen".










 
We also witnessed the transformation of our granddaughters, Emily and McKayla, into teenagers, all of which have grown up way too fast!

 These blessings would not have been possible without the Heavenly gifts of our beautiful children who have truly blessed our lives. We are thankful to God for the wonderful adults and parents they have become.

With God's grace and guidance..........we will continue to adjust to the peace and quiet of an empty nest, watch our baby boy change directions and enter the armed forces, track the path of our grandson as he makes choices for his life, love on our grand babies every chance we get, stand in awe as our beautiful granddaughters continue to grow into beautiful young women, wait patiently for our sweet Ethiopian grandson to come home and spend more time with our precious children, making memories.......


"I don't mean to say I am perfect. I haven't learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us." (The Living Bible) Philippians 3:12-14 

 2012......God, Family, then everything else
 
I opened my One Year Devotional Prayer Book to start the new year and found the perfect New Years Resolution......."My dear heavenly Father, it is my desire to be a women of integrity. Realizing that I am what I am by the grace of God, please so work in my heart this day that the tongue in my mouth and the tongue in my shoe are going in the same direction. I realize that if I am to effect others for your cause, You will have to do it through me. I surrender to Your control now and ask You to be in me, no longer me but You."