An Encouraging Word, For An ENCOURAGING Word

 

Today I sat an almost empty theatre with my husband, two adult sons and three preteen grandson’s.  They had agreed to go with me to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”   It was an amazingly well done documentary and touched not only my heart, but I could see the weirdest reaction from my children and grandchildren too.  My sweet boy’s are a wild bunch of funny characters and conditioned to be entertained through loud theatrics, detached portrayals of violence and exploitation to market through and on the big screen.  Today though they sat quietly, no side talk, no critique, only a movement of thought, heart and spirit.  It was AWESOME!!!!!   When do you ever go to a movie anymore and get moved by the  presence of a not so quiet determination through dignity.  For me and mine, the message through deliberate gentleness was not wasted and I wanted so much to share my gratitude.  I hope to goodness everybody sees this movie.  What a wonderful experience to witness.

The purposeful lack of distraction, from beginning to end was so refreshing and powerful.  The filmmaker allowed us in through sight, sound and testimony the celebration and strength of character, in a man determined to share kindness.  Isn’t it true though that an encouraging word is never wasted.  

Thank you to those who did such a wonderful job in welcoming us back to Mr. Rogers neighborhood.  Thank you for letting me take my loves to a movie that celebrated just that very thing, love.  Thank you Mr. Rogers!!!!!

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With Every Twist and Turning Branch of The Family Tree

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Hey man in my family, not a one of us fall far from the family tree.

It matters not if our bloom has long since faded far from the vine or if we are just coming into bud.

We continually sprout, bud and eventually bloom into the fruit we were intended to bare.

For us we were through many years of grafting, pruning and nuturing meant to produce the love of faith, forgiving and family that was planted by those who have long since past, yet had laid solid ground for us to grow.

How silly, ridiculous and arrogant of us to do anything other than continue and progress, as meant to be.

From what I know of life, not much that grows without encumbrance holds within the seed of character. 

Character must be cultivated in the rich soil of  family, some adversity, rich love and most of all a deep rooted faith.

For my family, each and everyone I pray. we continue grow through all the twisting, turning and most of all loving that lies within and beyond our family tree.

Oh Brother, I Know Where Art Thou

daylily at home
Not too long ago one of my brothers died.
There are four of us kids total, two girls, two boys with one less temporarily.

I’ve been writing about my brother in the last couple of posts.
I will most likely continue to write about my brother for sometime to come.

I believe very strongly that love is never broken. I believe just as much that our loved ones who loved us so, would want us to live, learn and grow in love from their living into death.

This is just the start of acknowledgement to what I learned from my brother;

1. Hate less and love more. For me Christ is love and because I know my brother is now with Jesus, I get much comfort from this.

2. Waste no time getting caught up in petty behavior, whether it be your own or anothers, just don’t do it! It’s usually hurtful to all and so not productive!!!!

3. Say what you mean and mean what you say (I just love this one, because I hate manipulation but have been known to do it).

4. Do not live as if in fear. The worst that can happen is that you try and fail. I think in my brother’s book, it was better to have the guts to fail than to never try at all. My brother was one courageous man and lived life as an adventure.

5. Your family may not be close at hand but love them, praise them, correct them (on occasion) as if they are. Your family is everything Christ has gifted you.

6. For my brother this was his first and foremost lesson for those of us who loved him so. My brother loved his spouse more than life itself. He lived a life where his love for another came before any of his own needs.

Thank you Mike for all you were and all you continue to be.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LITTLE BROTHER

Been thinking about you all day long.  I’ve been living it and feeling it for days.  I’m trying very hard not to run from, but rather into the missing you part of grief, with the same honor that was you.

Happy Birthday Little Brother

 

December 24th 1960, Michael Eugene Walker came to be.  You were a quiet little kid, may have something to do with the fact that you had two kind of strong older sisters who were hell bent on protecting you at all costs.

As your sister Janet pointed out to me a short time ago, you needed no protection and in reality you were the protector.

 

Happy Birthday Little Brother

 

I’m not totally sure I agree with Janet.  As a kid you were just too sweet and just a kid, who like everybody else was surrounded in one heck of a loving and dysfunctional family.

But I most certainly do agree that in life you did grow into the head of our family and you did as time progressed become the protector of each and everyone of us you loved.

When our father died you stepped up in the midst of craziness to honor your father and your siblings when insanity was attempting to rule. 

 

Happy Birthday Little Brother

 

I watched you grow into the man our father expected you to be.  Trust me when I say you did not disappoint but rather exceeded those expectations.  Your mother loved you dearly Mike and I hope that you now feel that love with no crap or strings attached.  I think in heaven it’s all bliss and nothing amiss, I praise sweet Jesus for that.

You were the best of brothers to your parent’s children and Pam, Janet and Danny too will forever be grateful for the gift of you.

 

Happy Birthday Little Brother

 

You fought so courageously this last two and a half years.  But again you were the strong one in your fight, your life and in your death.  With incredible willpower and kindness you managed to touch others through your grace and dignity.  I will never, ever forget my brother and those who loved him so. 

 

Happy Birthday Little Brother

 

Because of you little brother, no day without gratitude, no day wasted in blame, no excuses only the attempt to live in the grace that shined within you to the end.  I love you little brother!!!!!!

 

 

Happy Birthday Little Brother,

When God Met Mike On Biscuit Rock

I will preface this by saying, this is not my story but my brother Mike’s.

My brother is an almost 53 yr old man, who has the demeanor of and carries himself with a quiet but powerful strength. My brother has the adventurous spirit of a wanderer. To me he has always been not so much searching but rather participating in the wonder of that wander.

My brother is much loved by many a friend, his brother, sister’s, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, brother’s in laws, aunt’s, uncles, cousins and most certainly by his adoring wife Darlene.
The love of his life and for a very long time his saving grace has been Darlene. Darlene I believe, is now and will remain always Mikes soul mate. I have never in all my life seen anyone love another, as Mike loves his spouse.

It was for Mike and Darlene, that the story began on Biscuit Rock some 19 yrs ago. They were young, in love and both crazy for the out of doors, so a camping they decided to go. With a small tent, 2 sleeping bags and a cooler they were off to delight in all that nature had to offer. As Darlene tells it they went up a highway that took them to the beautiful Uncompahgre Canyon, Colorado. They kept driving until just around the bend Biscuit Rock (because it looks like a biscuit, go figure) came into view.
They had to cross a bridge which led them to Biscuit Rock. (As I’m writing I’m reminded of how many more bridges there would be to cross in their lives and how much that Rock symbolized for my brother a love never shaken and forever constant.)
The two worked together but struggled to get the small tent upright. After much effort they just threw in the sleeping bags and called it a wrap. Sometime through the night the rain began to fall and it didn’t take much to collapse the tent on top of the two lovebirds. So as the rain fell, so did they down the incline of the hill adjacent to Biscuit Rock. All the while they remained wrapped up snug in the middle of their collapsed tent. They were wet but together and managed to sleep well through the night. All these many years later those two have kept that story close to heart. Sometimes a memory can be the best of medicine.

Now we jump ahead 19 plus years. Mike and Darlene have been married for sometime and their bond has grown stronger throughout the years.

At this point in the story, is when I reference back to crossing the bridge on the way to the Rock. It was over two years ago that Mike and Darlene had a huge bridge to cross in the form of Mikes colon cancer diagnosis. He has remained strong and fought valiantly to cross that bridge with dignity, hope and a fierce tenacity.
Upon Mikes diagnosis he did share with Darlene that when his time came it was back there on the Rock he desired to be.
So not too very long ago he and Darlene decided it was time to go back. Mike needed to go back.

Darlene’s entire family lives there in Colorado but as with most families life and circumstance can take a huge toll. The family had not spent much time together as a unit and like most of us, each had their own cross to bare.

Now with all that said Mike and Darlene didn’t impose on any. They were not in the mind to solicit a family gathering of any kind. They were both just happy to be together and heading to a place where my brother knew he needed to be. Thank God Darlene’s nephew Paul had something else in mind altogether. Paul had rented a twelve person van to transport all on the search for the Rock. Eleven family members and one dog came together on this trip to be blessed on Biscuit Rock. Keep in mind it had been many, many years since this family had all been together in one place at the same time.

The family drove for a very long time in the attempt to locate Mikes beloved Rock. Neither Mike or Darlene were sure of the location but they both knew they would recognize it and so, they eventually did. When the van parked and all passengers disembarked they each started off in their own direction.
Grandson’s Jacob and Brayden went to hike Biscuit Rock. Nephew Paul was off to photograph all the splendor. Brandon, another nephew and his girlfriend were just off to walk. Darlene’s son Dwayne was busy keeping a vigilant eye on his boys. Brandon’s dad Joel and Darlene’s sister Bobby hung out at the van with Mike and Darlene until Mike said he needed to go off on his own. He wanted to be alone with God. My brother was with God that day and my quiet, reserved, ever so strong brother was moved to tears and exhausted upon his return to the van.

It was then, as Darlene tells it that she and Mike knew God’s spirit of grace was at hand that day. Each and every family member was guided by a gentle spirit to join my brother and share their own memories, tears, healing and love. What a gift for my brother to hear how he had influenced their lives, what a gift for them as well.
Grandson Brayden had a piece of the rock as a gift and so Mike would always have it with him.

For Mike and Darlene both, they have never felt such a presence of spirituality and love as in that day. The feeling remained throughout their trip and into a visit with Darlene’s sister Gretchen, who due to her own health issues had not been able to attend. God’s blessing continued as Darlene was also able to spend time with her best friend Marilyn.

Darlene says the trek home from Colorado to Arizona was an arduous one. She said they came upon severe weather in the form of deep snow, rain, ice and fog. There were times when they were out on a deserted two lane highway in 2 feet of snow and she just kept driving with the song “Jesus take the wheel” playing in her head.

After my brother returned from his trip, he called me and asked me to please help translate his blessing into words. My brother wanted to share his story as the love he experienced was shared with him that day when God met him on Biscuit Rock.

“Kickin It Up” In The Family Dynamic

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Just like in life, each of us in the family dynamic has a cross we bare. It doesn’t matter if you’ve one sibling or ten; those who know you best are your biggest fans and sometime harshest critics. You don’t … Continue reading

If I Knew Then, What I Now Know

norma

If I knew then that my sister and brothers would many years later find so much humor in the fact that my mama dressed me funny (even in pajamas),
I would most definitely find a smaller pair to wear, just so we could share a belly laugh together as only siblings can do.

If I knew then that aluminum Christmas trees were only a novelty,
I would have stocked up. I did so love to lay in front of that tree with the color wheel turning. I would stare at the ceiling for hours on end, probably a precursor to a few little trips (if you know what I mean and if your old and lived through the 70’s, you should) I took a not so many years later.

If I knew then that my father would grow old and tired,
I would not have wasted so much time being angry with him and more time celebrating the man he was.

If I knew then my mother did love me as only a mother can,
I for sure would have not held onto childhood hurts that only ended up hurting her too.

It wasn’t until some years later I realized my family is everything I am.
They are a gift that I have many times over been afraid to love fully.

I wish I knew then what I now know.

Crossing the Moon River

Norma Joanne was 80yrs old when she crossed the “Moon River”. She had pneumonia for the third time and had been in a hospice for almost two weeks.

While I am so grateful I have not had to experience hospice. I am also beyond grateful it existed for my mother and those of us who loved her so.

There are no words to truly express what it is like to watch someone die. It is agony to see your love one slip in and out of consciousness.

There were so many silent prayers between others and us who knew and loved her.
I believe my mother is now in the arms of Jesus but watching the process of her inevitable crossing was only made possible through a whole lot of love.

The love we had for mom, the love she had for us and the love we have for each other. It was because of the concerned and caring staff within the hospice that we were able to wrap ourselves up in all of it.

They made sure our mother was not in pain and watched over her diligently.
We too felt their compassion for us. I could tell they saw our mother through us crazy kids and I did so want to represent her well.

Our mother loved music, “Moon River” being her favorite. We sat in that room playing the CD player and being as comforted as we hope she was by the soothing sound of Nat King Cole’s “unforgettable”. My sister and brother danced hand in hand. I will never forget that sight of mom smiling as my sister knocked over the pitcher of water sitting at the foot of her bed.
The staff allowed us to be our mother’s kids and seemed to understand when we needed to make fun of each other, laugh and cry. It was a place of love and that is how we all wanted mom to go out surrounded by love and into more of it.

In closing I just wanted to say thank you to Michelle, Janice, Ashley, Chandra, Tim, Cassie, MaryLou, Dr. Sapp all the rest of you who work so hard and care so much. Donna, thank you for being with her at the end.
I will never forget your kindness. In the words of my mother, “you’re sweethearts.”

norma

Happy Birthday Dad(Thank you for being our DAD)

June 5th 1931 my father was born. February 22nd 2011, my father died. Today as I miss my Dad, I needed to share just a snippet of who he was to me.

I have been thinking of him for weeks leading up to this day. I loved him, miss him and wish I would have let him know more how much I adored him.

With all this said I wanted to write. But not something sad or melancholy. I wanted to write a giggle. I choose to celebrate my Dad today through laughter and I hope some of you can relate.

My Dad was almost as ornery as he was handsome. To his children he was bigger than life. I realize now that Dad was just as big a kid as us and he lived to rattle a cage or two.
I was reminded of this endearing but sometimes embarrassing trait my father epitomized when recently I overheard my husband sharing a story with my grandchildren.
As I listened to my grandchildren howl with laughter I thought of how much my Dad would have loved it. I knew he would have added even a little more flare and shock value. I wanted to share this part of my Dad, the part I loved and sometimes feared just a little, because you never knew what was coming out of that mouth.
So, for just a moment reach back to that awe-struck little kid in each and every one of us. As you sit quietly at Dad’s or PaPa’s feet, just wait for it cause you know you’re not to be disappointed in the tale to be told.

Little Red Riding Hood (with just a twist)

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her mommy and daddy.
This little girl had a grandma who she loved very much. Grandma had not been feeling well as of late. Grandma didn’t live so far off that the little girl couldn’t walk there but then again not just next door either.
The little girl and her mother wanted so much to help grandma get better soon. So they prepared the most wonderful basket of food. They had with delicate precision cut the turkey, cheese and bacon sandwiches. There was homemade chicken soup and hot apple cider. The cookies had chocolate morsels melted within a homemade batter that surpassed anything purchased in the market.
After painstaking food preparation the little girl wrapped herself in her cloak of red and started out for the journey to grandma’s home. Her mother reminded her “don’t talk to stranger’s” and she was off.
Not long into her journey the girl with the red cloak “Little Red
Riding Hood” felt an uneasiness as if someone was following her. She looked about and saw a certain wolf lingering and crouching behind a rock. He had a menacing look about him. She remembered her mother’s words and scurried off.
Further down the road she happened again upon the same scary creature. He looked as is he was up to no good to be sure. He was bent as if hiding behind a small group of bushes. Mother’s words rang loudly in her ears. She ran as fast as her little feet would carry her and as far away as she could get.
Sometime later Little Red Riding Hood knew she was so close to her
destination. She couldn’t wait to nourish her beloved grandma back to health with her basket of love filled goodies. To her dismay though, there he lurked again. He was slouched down and off to the side of a small out building. By this time though, she had enough of his constant and frightening presence. His following her every move had to end here and now. She shouted loudly and forcefully, “why don’t you just go away and leave me alone?” Then to her surprise that slouched down, filthy beast blurted out,
“hey, do you mind I’m trying to take a poop here!”

That’s the version I think my Dad would have loved!!!! I know my grandson’s did.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

With the spring 2013 baseball season in full swing (hee-hee), I hope you’ll enjoy this repost from one grateful but frugal grandma.

A few years ago my husband Gary and I took our grandson Mikey to a Seattle Mariner’s game.

Oh my, he was excited and I was determined to milk every moment of my super grandma status for all it’s worth!

I had pried my purse strings open, painful as that is for me to do, and actually purchased tickets to something.

After our arrival to the stadium and trudging up step after step to the nosebleed section, I soon realized that maybe I should have pried a little harder on those purse strings. Sometimes you do get what you pay for and this was the case here. The nosebleed section is called that for good reason.  Honestly, I thought I may have heard the “Sound of Music” playing off in the distance. I felt we were on a Swiss Alp, Bavarian kind of hike and I started to frantically search for oxygen.  In my opinion, the stadium could make a small fortune renting oxygen tanks to cheap grandmas.  Thank goodness we eventually collapsed in, I mean arrived to our seats.

But just as soon as those bats started crackin’ things quickly got to a fever pitch and I couldn’t help but get caught up in all the excitement. I must have been delirious from all the action and lack of oxygen because I grabbed the grandkid and announced to my husband I was off to get some eats, a giant finger for Mikey and a $6.00 beer! Good Lord, would the madness never end! Off we went, one lucky grandkid and one blessed grandma.

After dropping more than a buck or two at the concession stand, we collected all our booty and began the long hike back. While making the climb I happened to notice people were staring at me. I thought I was looking nice but I must have been looking real good that day. Wow, maybe they thought I was Mikey’s mom. Climbing, carrying food and sucking in my gut and double chin at the same time was quite a feat. But, with each step my confidence grew almost as big as my head.

Finally we were to our row and had only to squeeze by several people, who looked thrilled to see us coming. As we continually excused ourselves while slipping past fellow spectators, the stares continued and I’m sure I was flashing a smile here and there to all my admirers! Then when we were almost to the safety of our cheap seats, it happened.  There was some very nice, possibly also oxygen deprived woman, who felt compelled to let me know, “Excuse me ma’am, but your fly is open”.