Saturday, February 28, 2009

Iowa.....Part III

Wednesday evenings are hockey night for the Eppers household. Jaden is on a youth hockey team and they have their games on Wednesday evening. So, when the kids got home from school, we loaded up and headed for the a local Pizza Hut for pizza and pasta for dinner. The kids had a great time playing in the Play Area while waiting for the food to arrive. We all ate more than we should have and still had to ask for a carry-out box!

Since we had a little spare time on our hands and I needed a few items, we ran across the street to the Big K-Mart. I found a good deal on a pair of lounge pants and shirt and picked up some soda and a birthday card for my nephew. The kids once again wanted and/or needed many things, but I was a good aunt and said "no" this time! The weekend's coming!!!

Having made my purchases, we headed for the hockey arena, which is at the Iowa State Fair Grounds. We made a bee-line for the locker room so we could get Jaden suited up in time to get on the ice and practice before the game. This was no small feat! Once we got him stuffed into his gear, he looked like a robot instead of a little boy! He went directly to the ice rink and started practicing with his friends. We went to the best spot for taking pictures and I snapped a few. Then, we headed for the heated area upstairs. It was cold in there!

I cannot honestly tell you who won the hockey game, as I'm not even sure score was kept! Jaden had a good time and was hungry afterwards (any surprise there?!). So, being the good aunt that I am, we went by the snack bar and got he and Alix a quick snack before loading up for the ride home.

Thursday was an education in rare weather phenomena! We had a winter storm warning, with expectations of ice accumulation followed by snow accumulation. As the ice began to fall, I noticed that I was hearing it thunder. Then, suddenly I noticed what appeared to be lightening. I was quite sure I was wrong as I had never heard of such thing. I was proven wrong when, with the next thunder clap, lightening danced across the sky lighting up the entire area! For the first time in my life, I had witnessed a thunder snow! I had never even heard of a thunder snow, but found it is indeed a rare weather phenomenon. Well, I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!

The kids were due to be dismissed from school at 12:15, so Katie left work early in order to pick them up. They arrived home safely, although cold and wet. Katie gave the drive a good Iowan effort, but decided it was futile as most of the ice was so slushy it just rolled back into the drive sooner than she could shovel it out.

We had made plans to go out on Thursday afternoon, but decided it was best to stay in due to the unpredictability of the weather. Katie made Shepherd's Pie for dinner, which was wonderful, and we spent the evening playing games, watching T.V. and wrangling the kids during bath time. Bedtime came sooner than the kids wanted, but nonetheless, had to go. The house was quiet and the animals and I settled down for some quiet time with the computer before dropping off to sleep.

We had made no specific plans for Friday evening and were just playing it by ear. Around 5 p.m., a young friend of Alix called to invite her to go to the local YMCA for swimming with her and her Mom. Shortly thereafter, one of Jaden's friends called asking if he could come and have a stay over. So, by 5:30 p.m., Katie and I were headed out to drop off Jaden once Alix had gone with her friend.

We dropped Jaden off at his friend's house and then went to Taco Johns for some Tex-Mex for dinner. It was really good food and the dessert was exceptional. I'm not sure what it was called, but it was a sweet bread deep fried and rolled in sugar and cinnamon. It was soooooo good! I only ate 2 small pieces, but could have eaten many more!

We picked our food up at the drive-thru, drove home to eat and just lounge around while the kids were out. Alix came in around 8 p.m. eager to tell us all about her swim time at the "Y" and show us her injured toe. It seems she had rubbed it raw on the pool. Exactly how this happened I'm still not sure of! She settled in with me and Katie and the animals on the sofa and snuggled while she watched T.V. with us. She and Katie both soon fell asleep. They were so sweet lounging there on the sofa and cuddled up with each other! I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures!

They woke around 10 p.m. and plodded up to bed, leaving me to entertain myself and relax with my computer and the animals. Izzy the cat has taken a liking to me and wants to curl up around my neck while I sit watching T.V. or trying to do something at my laptop and Dafne the Beagle wants to be lying within close proximity so as not to feel left out! I have become so attached to these animals! I think I will miss them almost as much as I will Katie and the kids!

Well, that does it for this week, up till bedtime on Friday night. Tomorrow is a new day with new adventures! We plan on visiting the local Art Museum tomorrow afternoon while Jaden is at a birthday party. I'm eager to see what the day will bring! More Iowa notes to come..........

Friday, February 27, 2009

Iowa........Part II

Since it's Friday afternoon, I thought I would do a bit of catch-up on my week's activities.

Katie and I went grocery shopping on Monday afternoon while the kids were still in school. We went to a local Mexican restaurant, Cancun, for lunch. I had a beef taquito, minus the guacamole, which was fabulous! I swear the food in this town is wonderful! After lunch, we went to the local HyVee for shopping where Katie found some really good deals. I'm wishing we had a HyVee in TN.

We picked the kids up at school and went for a short drive afterwards. We visited the Stockman house, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for a Dr. and Mrs. Stockman in the 1930's. It has been restored and is now a museum furnished with period pieces and period reproductions. Tours are available May-October, so I didn't get to go inside. I hope to return during the summer and do that.

There is a whole neighborhood here devoted to the Prairie and Usonian schools of architecture. The houses are so simple, yet absolutely gorgeous. I think I am finding this style of home more and more attractive. The unadorned facades and simple lines hold a sort of elegance that is so easily appreciated.

After taking a ride through the Rock Glen neighborhood and enjoying the architecture, we rode through East Park. This town has the best parks for a town of it's size! There are so many facilities available for family fun and outdoor activity. Perhaps it is because they have so little of the year to enjoy outdoor activities. This park has several foot bridges that are so attractive and the settings are so tranquil. They also have a winding bike/hiking trail that is perfect for family outings.

On the way home from the park, we drove by this 'garbage heap' that Katie and I decided was someones interpretation of a work of art. It is actually quite interesting if you take the time to look at all the individual pieces and consider the work it took to put it together. Alix had to have her picture taken cause she LOVES to pose for the camera!

It was now getting dark, so we headed home for dinner, baths, homework and relaxation before bed. Of course, no evening at home would be complete without a little play time! Katie and the kids were having a great time trying to get upstairs!

Well, that's it for Monday! Tuesday was back to work for Katie, so it was me and the animals all alone. We had a relaxing day and everyone stayed in during the evening. It was a good day and evening. A good time to relax and enjoy just being with my family. Will fill you in about the more of the week in the next post.

I'm lovin Iowa! I hope you're lovin where you are!!!! God bless!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


This is the painting 'Iowa Cornfield' by artist Grant Wood. It was painted in 1943.

Well, I am now in Iowa! Wow! I arrived here on this past Saturday. I cannot believe how much this trip has helped my state of mind already! My niece, Katie, and her children, Alix Joy and Jaden, have worked wonders on my mood! Just being here where my surroundings are different and enjoying new things with them has been such a great blessing!

On Sunday afternoon, we went to the local Children's Theater and saw a production of Snow White! It was absolutely fabulous! If you ever visit Mason City, IA, I highly recommend that you visit the Stebens Children's Theater. The young people are so talented. It is an afternoon of pure delight to behold!

After the play, we went to a local Chinese restaurant, Hunan, for dinner. The food was excellent; the atmosphere was friendly and inviting and the company was without compare! We all ate TOO much and had to take a walk around the mall before we could go for dessert! The little mall was so quaint. I found a wonderful country shop I absolutely MUST visit before leaving Mason City! I cannot wait to go in there and browse all their lovely offerings! The kids found every available ride-me-for-a-quarter thingie in the mall and of course, Aunt Di let them ride!

This is the painting 'American Gothic', also by artist Grant Wood. Painted in 1930.

After settling our dinner, we went for ice cream at a local soda fountain, Birdsall's. It was set up like an old fashioned soda fountain, with the stools at the counter and the young man and young lady waiting on customers and making our treats as we watched. I swear, watching them put it all together was half the fun! Of course, the kid's favorite was spinning around on the stools! Made me dizzy just watching!!! But, then again, I'm an old person! I surely don't feel old today though. It's amazing what a little mood lift can do for you!

You would think that would have been enough excitement for one day, but then my niece took me for a driving tour of their town by night. This is the most exquisite little town I have seen in some time! The architecture is amazing; everything from an old building in downtown that has a very definite French flavor, very New Orleans, to an old hotel that is being restored that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright! They have The Music Man square, which I cannot wait to visit in the day light, and beautiful cobblestone styled sidewalks! There is a great park right in the middle of downtown that was just picturesque even at night!

This is a picture of the completed Park Inn Hotel in Mason City. The hotel was desinged by Frank Lloyd Wright.

We then came home to settle in and get the kid's baths. Today was a school day, but my niece is off work on Mondays, so we're going out again in a bit. Even going grocery shopping sounds like fun to me now! I think it's just the company! It's been a long time since I was able to spend any real time with Katie and I'm lovin every single minute of it!

Well, gotta run now. Time to go shopping and exploring! Can't wait to see what we'll run up on today! I'll post later in the week about more adventures. Hope you're all having a wonderful week. God has been so good to me to allow me this time of healing. I am grateful beyond words.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thank You Is Not Enough!

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal........Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails........And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
I Corinthians 13: 1, 4-8a, 13

These words describe perfectly the kind of love I have been shown by so many wonderful people over the last four weeks, many of whom are right here in Blog Land. People have posted prayer requests for me on their blogs. Others have read those requests and have visited my blog and left precious prayers and comments. I cannot express with words what all this outpouring of love and support has meant to me!

The past couple of weeks have been especially difficult for me. However, I haven't had to face them alone. All of you have circled the wagons and formed prayers chains for me. My family has taken me in and sheltered me. Other friends have emailed and called and visited and lifted me to the Throne of Grace in intercessory prayer. I have felt the love of the Lord in every action and word. I feel as sheltered and safe as the water droplet in the picture above. Without all of you, I would be so much more troubled than I am.

Thank you is just not sufficient to express my feelings for each of you and for your prayers and support. You have shown through your actions the Love of Jesus to me in my darkest hour. I will never forget you and have been touched in ways I cannot describe. I am amazed at the ability you have to love me. Thank you, each and every one, for being a vessel of service for our Lord. May He grant you peace and grace in the days ahead.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


These four people are much of the reason I go on now. Since my husband's home going, grief has overtaken me and I find it hard to have a reason to even want to keep living on most days. However, when I look at these precious faces, I see that there is a reason to keep going. This is Daddy, Van McDonald, surrounded by his great-grandchildren. Alix Joy, age 8, Jaden Isaac, age 6, and Allyson Ann, who will be 2 on Feb. 24. They are at least a portion of the light left in my life. This picture was taken at my sister's house this past December, at our family Christmas gathering.

I had planned to continue with my genealogy posts today, but am away from home and at my sister's house for a day or so. Therefore, I don't have access to my photos and cannot include them so didn't want to go ahead with the posts until I could add the photos. Hopefully, I will get back to that tomorrow.

I would like to ask each of you who read my blog to pray for me. Grieving has taken a turn for the worse and it is smothering me, quite literally. I am so afraid of doing this the wrong way and dishonoring my Lord or my husband's memory. It is, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I am so lost without my husband. It was just the two of us for nearly 36 years. I don't know how to be me anymore without him. I desperately need your prayers.

This picture pretty much says it all for me.........alone. I have to find my new "normal" and find a way to go on and be me without being part of us. I know the Lord has a plan for me, I just need to find Him and that plan in the midst of all the pain.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Don't Settle for Happiness....Aim for Joy!

"Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy."
Phillipians 3:1 (NLT)

A man once told me that he’d broken up with his fiancĂ© because she didn’t make him happy enough. Mind you, he was happy with her; she just didn’t make him as happy as he felt a future wife should.

What this man told me gives memorable insight into how some people view happiness: They believe happiness is dependent upon the people, the things, and the circumstances that surrounded them. Yet, the Bible says don’t settle for happiness; aim for joy.

Joy comes from within; joy is not dependent upon the people in your life, or the possessions you accumulate, or what’s happening at this point in your life.
God says you’ll find joy, when you trust that he’s in control and working to use the good – and the bad – of your life for a greater purpose.

The apostle Paul understood this, writing about joy while in prison, chained to a guard, alone in a foreign city: “Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy …” (Philippians 3:1 NLT).

He suggested there are two keys to transforming mere happiness into a deeply-felt, ever-present joy:

First, live each day by grace. Grace means you don’t have to earn God’s love or his approval. And here’s some joyful news: If you don’t have to earn God’s love, then you don’t have to earn anyone else’s love. God offers his love unconditionally, and you can joyfully live in that grace everyday, all day long. Understanding this drains the tension from your life: you can make mistakes and know that you’re still loved by God, who desires a relationship with you over any rules or rituals.

The man who broke up with his fiancĂ© appears to have had difficulty in understanding grace. His love came with conditions – “As long as you make me happy, I’ll love you” – and that means he probably assumes the love he receives from others is conditional too. How can anyone experience joy when they live each day thinking they have to earn love?

Second, stay focused on what’s really important. There are a lot of little things that can steal your joy – but only if you let them. Jesus taught this: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV).

My sister, Chaundel, thought about this Bible passage when she learned her house in Maryville , California , was under 9 feet of water. While she and her husband, Tom, were out to dinner, the local levy broke and flooded the area. Even in her grief, she joked, “We drove our Chevy to the levy, and the levy was dry.”

Looking back on that time, Chaundel says, “God taught us that such a loss really makes you think about what’s important and what’s going to last. Our possessions were wiped out in a matter of minutes, but the important thing is that we were alive and well. Within a year, our house was rebuilt, but we could have never replaced each other.”

Happiness is overrated. On the other hand, joy is often forgotten. Yet, joy will stabilize your life as you embrace grace and focus on the things that are truly important, moving a bad hair day down the list and relationships up to the top. No matter what happens, may God give you joy.

(by Pastor Rick Warren, Saddleback Community Church)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Meaning of Love

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is Terry, My Valentine, on Mother's Day, 2008

Valentine's Day.......a day of love, romance, expressions of endearment .....a time to tell that someone special just how much you love and adore them, how you can't live without them, how you would swim the deepest oceans, climb the highest mountains, cross the darkest forests.........just to be at their side today and every day! Really??? How many of us have really put our love to that kind of test? I'd lie for you, I'd die for you, I'd do anything for love............or so the song says. But, have we ever really stopped to think about that? Sure, it sounds great, but is it true?

On our last Valentine's Day together, my very sick husband muted the T.V. (an accomplishment in itself since that only happened when something really important was about to be said), called my name to get my attention (no need, honey, you muted the T.V. for me!) and said very lovingly "Happy Valentine's Day. I love you" (then of course he promptly turned the volume back on!). I sat for several minutes watching him and thinking that, so many times in the past, I have taken those words for granted.

I always knew he loved me (well, on most days anyway!), and I always knew he'd be there for least I thought I did. Yet on that day, as I sat looking at him so tired and weak and knowing as he did that our days together were limited now, I saw him in a new light, I felt his love in a different way, I understood his commitment more completely than ever I had before.

When he proclaimed his love for me, his face was tired, his body was weak, but his eyes shone with the adoration only a lifetime of loving someone can create within a soul. It develops over years of loving and laughing and crying.....facing victories together with triumph and losses with courage.....years of knowing the absolute joy of contentment just to be in the presence of the one you love and years of facing disappointments and knowing it will be okay because that
person is there to face it with you.

When we were young and in love, I was so infatuated with him, so enamored of his looks and his laugh......his ability to stand firm without being cruel or overbearing. Everything he did was perfect as far as I could tell, even when he scattered his dirty clothes from one room to the other or left the toilet seat up or forgot to brag about the fine meal I had just made him.

Then, with time, I began to see little cracks in his armour of perfection, but it didn't lessen my opinion of him or make me love him less. Quite to the contrary, I loved him even more because he was human and there was real hope that he could really love me for the rest of my life.

When I wanted babies, he said no because he wasn't ready. Then, when the doctors told us we probably weren't going to be able to have babies, he cried so many nights begging me to forgive him for ever putting it off and begging God to let us have a baby. Unfortunately, that was never to be, but the fact that he was so obviously suffering over it made me know that he wanted it just as much as I did. So, together we made it. We survived childlessness because our souls were one.

When I suffered digestive ailments, he did not understand and was upset because I wasn't able to do or go as he wanted to. Then, when the doctors told us that my ailment was incurable and that some had died as a result of the complications, he cried and begged me to forgive him and begged God to heal me and let me live to be with him. We made it through all those years because our souls were in agreement.

When his accident occurred and he was hospitalized for 5 months and was permanently disabled, he was angry and disappointed. He cried and begged God to let him be "normal" again and to be able to go back to work to provide for our little family. Although that was not to be, he came to an acceptance of his new "normal" and our life was happy and fulfilled once again. We made it
through all of that because our souls sought the same thing, contentment and acceptance of our new lifestyle.

Now, he was facing the battle of his lifetime, the battle for his life. He was weak and tired, but still going to God for peace and begging this time......just prayers for strength and courage. What he didn't already understand is that he was the most courageous person I had even known. He had more strength of character and more ability to persevere than I had ever seen in anyone else.

I got frustrated with him, yes. I got angry with him, certainly. But, we would make it through this battle because our souls sought the same thing, God's will for our life. I was yet to figure out how I was supposed to go on without him, but I knew I would because I knew he had already asked God to give me that. The adoration that glowed in his eyes has and always will mean that he puts me first when the chips are down. Sure, we've shared romance, giggles, passion, laughter, anger, disappointment..........the whole gamut of human emotions. All the good was better and all the bad was easier because we shared it all.

So, I've come to the conclusion that today I am thankful for love, REAL LOVE.......not just cute little hearts and flowers, sweet or sexy lingerie, or romance and passion, but that thing that lives in your soul that makes you one with another person. My heart is a muscle that pumps blood to my body, it's already diseased and someday it will die. My soul, however, is an eternally living entity that cannot die and cannot know the ravages of the flesh.

That's what our love is, separate from the ravages of the flesh and never-ending. What an awesome and precious gift God had given us to nurture till death and beyond! And so, now that my love is with the Lord, I sit alone and lonely, yet knowing I have been so much beyond blessed to have known the love of this wonderful man. Although he is no longer with me physically, he will never leave me for he is a part of my soul, my innermost being. As long as I am, he will be with me.

Happy Valentine's Day in heaven Terry! You know more now about love than I can even comprehend, yet in my soul I know we have already had that, yet could not fully appreciate it. I know that now you comprehend and appreciate it and are waiting there for me.

"If you get there before I do, don't give up on me. I'll be there when my chores are through, I don't know how long I'll be. I'm not gonna let you down, darlin wait and see. But, between now and then, till I see you again, I'll be lovin you......Love, Me."

Left: Terry & Di, June 14, 1975 and Right: Terry & Di, March, 1997

Friday, February 13, 2009

Flowers For Momma

I'm thinking a lot about Momma today. She has been with the Lord for almost three years now. It seems like so much longer. Momma had her faults, we all do; but she was an amazing woman. She worked outside our home from the time I was about 10, yet she never allowed us or our home to suffer for it. Looking back, I don't how she managed to do all that she did. Maybe that's why she left us much too soon. Maybe she wore her precious body out trying to take care of too many people.

On Valentine's Day, Momma always brought us small hearts filled with chocolates. Long before a man gave me candy, Momma did. It made her so happy to come home on Valentine'e Day with those little chocolate-filled hearts for us! She would always take them and sit them on our pillow so we would find them there when we were getting ready for bed at night. Every year we knew what would be waiting for us, but we dared not go in to find it until bedtime. It would have spoiled our fun and Momma's!

At bedtime, we would get into our pajamas, brush our teeth and head for our beds, knowing what awaited us there. We would throw back our blanket and there they would be......beautiful red or pink shiny foil heart-shaped boxes with big bows tied on them and filled with assorted chcolate delights! We would open them carefully, so as not to spill the candy on the bed and sit looking and try to choose cause we knew we only got one piece! It was, perhaps, the one night a year we were allowed to go to sleep without brushing our teeth being the last task of the day!

When I think of those days, I get misty eyed remembering that feeling of love and acceptance. Those were such happy times, just one of so many Momma and Daddy gave us. So, Happy Valentine's Day, Momma. I love you and I miss you more every day. Because you and Daddy loved me, I have been able to give love to others in my life. Thank you for that priceless gift!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crossing Over

Today I stand before the river wide,
Looking across to the other side.
My heart races, I flinch in fear,
For I know the time of my crossing is near.

Oh what beauty there awaits,
Shielded behind that great Pearly Gate.
Yet I feel the pangs of fear,
For I have so much to leave here.

Why must I choose; what shall I say;
How can I go, how can I stay?
Am I to know the right play,
How shall I know which way?

Then a clear and angelic voice rings,
Through the air the sweet voice sings.
"Come with me" it calls from before,
Heaven is waiting on that bright shore.

And so I turn back for one last look,
One last glance at their faces I took.
My dear loved ones are left behind,
Their tear-washed faces glisten and shine.

Do they know how hard this is for me?
Do they understand why I leave?
Can they know the joy that awaits
My arrival inside that Pearly Gate?

Dear Lord, please tell them I'm okay.
I'll be waiting for the day
When their sweet faces again I see,
When they cross over to be with me.

What a joyous reunion awaits before,
When we see each other on that far shore.
Reunions are sweet down here below,
But not as sweet as where I go.

No more to be parted, no more pain to bear;
No more tears or suffering, no burden or care.
We'll spend eternity praising our King,
While eternity rolls and the angels sing.

(I am by no means a poetry writer. This was given to me by the Lord just days before my precious husband passed away. We had talked about his desire to go, yet also his longing to stay with me. For perhaps the first time, I understood just how much he loved me; enough to have a difficult time choosing between his heavenly home and his earthly home with me. What a precious blessing to have been loved like that!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I've Been Tagged!!!!

Marie Anne from Every Day Crochet has tagged me for the 6th Picture Photo Challenge.

Here are the rules:

1. Go to the pictures on your computer.

2. Open the 6th folder.

3. Choose the 6th picture.

4. Post that picture on your blog and write something about it.

5. Invite 6 new people to the challenge.

6. Link to them and let them know they have been challenged.

Here is my 6th picture:

This is Mischa, my male Alaskan Malamute puppy. This shot was taken on the afternoon I first met my puppies at their birth home. The lady in the shot is their original "Momma", Peggy. This was taken in mid-October, 2008. The pups were 6 months old. They are now 10 months old and so big! They are very active and so, so loving! They run to meet me every time I walk out the door and follow me as far up the drive as they can when I'm leaving. When I return home, they are always there, jumping and smiling! They are so precious. Mischa's sister is named Klinket. There's a long story behind that! I love my puppies. I orginally got them for my dear sweet hubby, who went home to be with the Lord on January 26 of this year. I am so thankful to have Mischa and Klinket here to welcome me. Since we have no living children, they have become my babies! In case you haven't already guessed, I LOVE my babies!!!! I have recently been considering finding new homes for them, but the more I think about it, I just don't think I can! I will just have to find a place to kennel them while I'm off on my little walk-abouts!

The 6 people I choose are: Katie, Christie, Pamela, BJ, Grandma Lorrene, and Sweetie.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My First Award!!!

Sweet Roberta Anne at Little House In The Desert gave me this beautiful Butterfly Award, my First Award in Blog Land!!!! Thank you Roberta Anne!

The Rules are this:

1. Put the award on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.
4. Add links those blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your Nominees on their blog.

My Nominees (in alpabetical order):

Christie at A Journey In Mommying
Marie Anne at Every Day Crochet
Pamela at My World~Joy's Pam
Grandma Lorrene at Pet Peeves and Other Ramblings
BJ at ~~~Sweet Nothings~~~
Sweetie at Sweetie's World
Katie at The Eppers

These ladies are all included in my Blog Roll. I have chosen each one for different reasons. I thoroughly enjoy visiting each blog and am encouraged and entertained by each one.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Remember When, 2nd Installment.......

Yesterday, I started a walk down my genealogical path by introducing you to my paternal lineage. Today, I will continue by introducing you to some of the people from my maternal lineage. Remember....two people fell in love...........

This is my great, great, great-grandparents, Thomas Jefferson Jackson, Sr. and Martha (Patsy) Allen-Jackson. T.J. was born Feb. 3, 1826 in Jackson Co., TN. Although some family researchers claim him to be a relative of President Andrew Jackson, I can neither prove nor disprove that through my own research. I believe it to be highly doubtful. He is, however, a direct descendant of a Cherokee Princess, Nancy, a member of Kyshire Indian tribe, who was born in 1726 in North Carolina. T.J. met and married Martha (Patsy) Allen in March, 1844 in Gainesboro, Jackson Co., TN. Although my paternal lineage also includes Allens, I have yet to be able to show a definite connection between the two sets of Allens. Martha was born on Jun. 2, 1826 in Gainesboro, Jackson Co., TN. After their marriage, the Jacksons moved westward from Jackson Co., which is in Middle Tennessee, ending up settling in Hardeman Co., in Western Tennessee. The couple eventually had 16 children, some of whom stayed in West TN and others who moved farther westward, settling in OK, TX, NM and CA. T.J. was a well known timber man and blacksmith throughout Hardeman County, having been the original proprietor of Jackson Lumber Company, which was carried on by his descendants into the latter years of the 20th century. He owned several hundred acres of land, where he harvested his own timber and opened his Smitty shop, also running a sorghum mill and helping establish a school in the area surrounding his property. T.J. died on the 16th of Jan., 1904 in what was then known as Bryantsburg (present-day Hebron community), Hardeman Co., TN and was buried in the David McKinnie Cemetery. Martha passed away soon afterward on the 22 July, 1904 and was laid to rest beside her dear husband of 62 years.

Sarilda Lucinda C. Jackson was the 14th child of T.J. and Martha Jackson and was my great, great-grandmother. She was born in 1867 in Hardeman Co., TN. She married William N. Pipkin on Apr. 3, 1886 in Hardeman Co., TN. William was born in 1867 in Madison Co., TN. Unfortunately, William died at a very young age in 1888 in Hardeman Co. I have not been able to find the cause of William's death. During their brief marriage, Sarilda and William had two daughters. The girls were less than one year apart and were always extremely close to each other. Sarilda did the best she could with her children and remarried on Mar. 13, 1890 in Hardeman Co., TN to James Hardeman Coburn. Mr. Coburn was a dreadful man and beat Shrilda mercilessly. She soon discovered he was sexually abusing her young daughters and sent them to lived with her parents, T.J. and Martha. After enduring his harsh treatment for as long as she could, she also left and went home to her mother following her father's death. She waited too long however, and died of complications from wounds received at the hands of her husband sometime between Jan. and July of 1904 in Hardeman Co., TN. Some researchers have reported that she was buried at the cemetery where Mr. Coburn and his second wife are buried. I have been unable to verify this and think it is highly unlikely that her mother would have buried her there. Although I cannot prove it, I believe her to be buried at the same cemetery where her parents were buried. After burying her dear husband and her daughter, Martha could no longer go on and died in July, 1904.

My great-grandmother, Minnie Hattie Victoria Pipkin, was the firstborn of Sarilda Jackson-Pipkin and William N. Pipkin. She was born on Feb. 28, 1887 in Hardeman Co., TN. She was just over one year old when her father died in 1888. As you can see by her appearance, her grandfather's Cherokee heritage is very evident. Hattie married John Thomas Howell on Jan. 13, 1901 in Hardeman Co., TN, just prior to her 14th birthday. John Thomas Howell was born on Apr. 15, 1877 in Hardeman Co., TN. He was nearly 10 years Hattie's senior. He also was a blacksmith and it is believed by some that he most likely learned his trade in Hattie's grandfather's shop. This might explain why he and Hattie got married when she was so young. John Thomas and Hattie had 7 children. John worked hard to support his family and moved from Hardeman Co. to Madison Co.during the 1930's to work in the cotton mill. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1939 and moved his family back to Hardeman Co. so he could die on the old home place. John Thomas died on May 24, 1940 and was buried in the Hebron Baptist Church Cemetery. Many years later, Hattie married again to Tom Sparks. They married about 1959 and he died in 1960. Hattie lived out the remainder of her life alone, but living just across the street from one of her children. Hattie died on Dec. 20, 1974 at her home in Hardeman Co., TN and was laid to rest beside John Thomas the the Hebron Cemetery. She was a much beloved woman and was in inspiration to her family until the day she went home.

My maternal grandparents are James Elbert (Elb) Howell and Lula Mae Sisco-Howell. Oh, and by the way, that pretty little baby they're holding is me! This picture was taken in the summer of 1958. I as less than one year old. I was the first grandchild on both sides of my family and spoiled rotten! Ahhhhh, those were the days!!!!!!
Elb Howell was born on Oct. 12, 1912 in Hardeman Co., TN. He worked alongside his Dad on the farm and in the blacksmith shop. His older brother, Willie, married a young woman from across the county and Elb became interested in her sister. After telling her family Elb was going to take her for a haircut on a Saturday afternoon, Elb and Lula Mae Sisco eloped to Ripley in Tippah Co., MS to get married! Imagine Lula's parent's surprise when she came home, not with a new haircut, but with a new husband! Lula was born on Jun. 19, 1914 in Hardeman Co., TN near the county seat of Bolivar. She was the daughter of Robert Sisco and Idella Doyle-Sisco and the granddaughter of Elijah Sisco and Mary Jane Weaver-Sisco and Edward H. Doyle and Sarah Norton-Doyle. All of her grandparents were born in TN, except for Elijah Sisco, who was born in Louisiana. He enlisted with the Confederate Calvary at the outbreak of the Civil War and was captured by a Union regiment and taken as a prisoner of war to Fort Delaware. While at Fort Delaware, he was offered an opportunity to purchase his freedom for a sum of money and an oath of allegiance to the Union. Elijah agreed and immediately signed up with the Union Army. He went on to fight valiantly for the Union, receiving combat wounds at least three times before the end of the war. When the war ended, he traveled back to Western TN to settle down. There he met Mary Jane Weaver and they were married about 1868. Elijah was still living at the Veteran's Census of Hardeman County recorded on Apr. 26, 1910 and receiving a pension from the Federal Government. Lula Sisco-Howell died from complications of Alzheimer's disease on Jun. 27, 1999 at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, Jackson, Madison Co., TN. She was buried at the Hebron Baptist Church Cemetery. Elb Howell lived to be 93 years old and died of old age on Nov. 8, 2005 at Bolivar General Hospital, Bolivar, Hardeman Co., TN. He died less than one hour after his son, John Thomas Howell, died in the room next door from complications of liver disease. Their funeral was held together and they were laid to rest in the Hebron Cemetery. Elb and Lula had 9 children, but had lost 2sons prior to their own deaths, with John also having died just prior to Elb's death as well.

The above are pictures of Momma, Thelma Mae Howell-McDonald. Momma was born on Aug. 1, 1939 at my grandparent's home in Hardeman Co., TN. She was the third of nine children and the first daughter. For all of her life, her siblings, even her older brothers, looked up to her and thought of her as the "mother" or leader of the family. She met Daddy, Van Patterson McDonald, in the late summer of 1956 at a local grocery story. His brother dared him to ask her out and the rest, as they say, is history! They dated for about six months and decided they wanted to get married. They planned to marry in February, 1957 but Daddy was still in the Army Reserve and had gotten notice that he might be called up for sniper duty in Vietnam. They at first decided to put the wedding off, but then decided to go ahead and get married and let whatever should come be left in the hands of the Lord. They were married at the Alcorn County Courthouse in Corinth, MS on Saturday, March 23, 1957. Momma had three children by the time she was 21 years old. I am the oldest and was born on Nov. 22, 1957. Charlotte is the middle child and was born on Apr. 16, 1959. Debra is the youngest and was born on May 24, 1960. Momma turned 21 on Aug. 1, 1960. The picture below was taken in Oct., 1960 on the day my Uncle Horace and Aunt Madie got married. It is taken outside my Maw and Paw McDonald's house. I think Momma is lookin pretty darn good to have just given birth to #3 just 5 months earlier. Especially when you consider that not only was it #3, but it was #3 in less than three years!
Momma and Daddy were always so happy when they were with each other. They laughed a lot and played practical jokes on each other all the time. Daddy always told Momma if she was planning to leave to be sure to pack his bag too, cause he was going with her!
When Momma was only 56, she had to have a double by-pass surgery on her heart. Two years later, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and had to retire on permanent disability. She also suffered from diabetes. She developed renal failure due to the diabetes and passed from this life on Apr. 20, 2006 at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, Jackson, Madison Co., TN. She was laid to rest the cemetery of her home church, Brints Chapel Baptist Church near Middleton in Hardeman Co., TN. Daddy had a difficult time adjusting to life without her, but has finally been able to move forward and continues to live on the farm with my sister and brother-in-law, who bought the farm after Mommas death.

Our Family

(L-R) Daddy (Van), Momma (Thelma), Diane, Charlotte and Debra

The James Elbert Howell Family

February 15, 1994

Elb and Lula's 60th Anniversary Celebration

(Back) Bobby, Donald, Kenneth, John, Sandra, Glenda, Shirley and Thelma

(Front) Lula Mae Sisco-Howell and James Elbert (Elb) Howell


I'll pick up the story again tomorrow. Thank you all for reading. I hope you're enjoyed a fraction as much as I am !

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Remember When...............

The 'Day of Love' is soon upon us. With that in mind, I thought I might share a bit about my ancestry since, as they say, it's all because two people fell in love.

My great-great-grandfather, Dave Atkinson, Methodist Minister, Union Soldier and cotton mill owner. I have the hymnal he carried in his saddlebag from church to church while riding the circuit.

Above are my great-great-grandparents, David James Atkinson and Elizabeth Rachel Davis (Smith?). There is some disagreement whether Rachel was a Smith or a Davis. I have researched it thoroughly and believe she was born a Davis, but was taken in by a Smith family when her parents died at a young age. I believe she was raised as a Davis, but some of her younger grandchildren thought she was a Smith because they remember the Smiths being around in their childhood. Grandpa Dave was born in Wayne Co., TN May 9, 1845. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War and was a Methodist Circuit Preacher. He married Elizabeth Rachel Davis in January, 1868 in Mississippi. She was born March 29, 1849 in Tippah Co., MS. Rachel died on December 29, 1912 in Hardeman Co., TN. Grandpa Dave then lived with his daughter and son-in-law, Joe and Susie Morphis, until his death on August 17, 1928 near Pocahontas, Hardeman Co., TN. He died of old age.

These are my great-grandparents, Earnest Newland and Nellie Jane Atkinston-Newland. It is said they never had their picture taken in any other pose than this one because Earnest was a very short man and he didn't want Nellie taller than him in photographs. Earnest was born in 1871 in Hardeman Co., TN and died in 1945 in Madison Co., TN. Nellie was born in 1881 in McNairy Co., TN and died on March 27, 1918 of pneumonia during the horrid flu epidemic of 1918. She left Earnest with 7 young children to raise. He was helped by Nellie's sister, Susie, who had married but was barren. On of Nellie's children, Melvin, made a promise to his Uncle Joe on his death bed that he would stay with Aunt Susie until she died and take care of her. He made good on this promise, staying with her in her home until after she was laid to rest. He then moved to Bemis, TN where and married Lessie Mae Taylor.

My great-grandmother, Nancy Victoria Kaledonia Allen, known simply as Nannie to all who loved her. She was born in Sevier County in East Tennessee, on April 11, 1878. She was the daughter of Gideon A. Allen and Susan Irene Rinehart and the grand-daughter of John Allen and Mary Dawson. She married James Eli (Jim) McDonald on March 26, 1905 in Hardeman County, TN. She was his second wife, the first having died about 1900 in McNairy County, TN. Mr. Jim died sometime between March 1 - December 18, 1908 of tuberculosis, leaving Nannie with two young children to raise on her own. She sold the family farm which bordered McNairy-Hardeman counties and moved her small family closer to the Rail Depot town of Middleton (Slabtown) in southwestern Tennessee. There she took in laundry from the public and sat with the sick and elderly to support her family. She died on January 30, 1934 in the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Andrew and Ivonie Freeman, near Middleton. She is buried in an unmarked grave in the city cemetery.

This is my grandfather, James Herbert McDonald, Paw McDonald. He was born on December 18, 1908 on a small farm on the border of McNairy-Hardeman counties in Tennessee. His father had died prior to his birth of tuberculosis. From the time of his early childhood, he worked to help support his family. At the age of 13, he took a job in a paper factory in Falkner, MS, which was approximately 16 miles from the family home. Herbert set out on Sunday afternoon to walk the 16 miles to the factory and would sleep on a stray mat in a back room, work all week, then walk back home on Friday afternoon. He did this for several years, until he could come home and make a living working in the log woods. He married Eula Eilene Newland on March 21, 1928 in the home of the bride's grandfather in Hardeman County, TN. Herbert died on June 30, 1966 at his home in Hardeman County, TN of sudden cardiac death. He is buried at the Reaves Methodist Church Cemetery in Hardeman County.

I would like you to meet my grandmother, Eula Eileen Newland-McDonald, Maw McDonald. She was born on April 2, 1911 in Hardeman County, TN, just outside of the small Rail Depot town of Pocahontas, near the McNairy County line. She was the daughter of Earnest Newland and Nellie Jane Atkinson. Due to the early death of her mother, Maw was raised by her Aunt Susie Morphis, whom she adored. She was terrified of her father and said he beat his children every day with a stick whether they had done anything wrong or not. She loved her father, but never spent much time with him after her mother's death. Whether her father treated his children in this manner during Nellie's lifetime is unknown to me. I would like to think it is not so, but have no evidence one way or the other. He was of Germanic heritage and had a quick and violent temper. Maw McDonald died on January 18, 1995 of complications following surgery to remove a tumor from her stomach. She is buried beside her beloved Herbert at Reaves Methodist Church in Hardeman Co., TN.

This handsome young Private is my Dad, Van Patterson McDonald. Isn't he a hunk???!!!! Daddy was born on November 4, 1932 on a small farm in Hardeman County, TN. When he was about 10 years old, my Paw and Maw McDonald bought the farm where I grew up and moved their small family there to live. Daddy tried to join the Air Force when the Korean Conflict broke out, but was rejected for medical reasons. He was later drafted into the Army, but never had to go to Korea. On the day he was scheduled to ship out, negotiators in Panmunjom reached an agreement the truce began. He was then sent to Germany, where he served for 18 months before returning home. After returned from Germany, he met and married my Mom, Thelma Mae Howell. Momma was born on August 1, 1939 in Hardeman County, TN and died on April 20, 2006 at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in Madison Co., TN. She died of end stage renal disease with complications from Alzheimer's disease. She and Daddy married on March 23, 1957 at the Courthouse in Corinth, Alcorn Co., MS.

The Herbert McDonald Family, Late Summer 1957

L-R: Van, Thelma, Horace Herbert, Eilene and David in front

Thelma Mae Howell & Van Patterson McDonald

February, 1957

The Van McDonald family, Summer, 1964

Van and Thelma

Diane, Debra and Charlotte

(Momma was pregnant with our youngest sister, Joyce, who was stillborn on October 6, 1964.)

Tomorrow I will try to post about the maternal side of my ancestry. These are just very bare thumbnail sketches of the individuals. I could write several posts on most of them. Those whom I don't have pictures of, I have good information on. However, I have discovered graphics help dress up the page, so I'm going to try to use more graphics in my posts and not so many words. As you can see, it's all because many more than just two people fell in love!!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009


I love you, O LORD, my strength.The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18: 1-2 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like you're barely hanging on? I don't mean physically, as in you're gonna fall off the cliff; I mean spiritually, as in you just don't know how much longer you can trust, how much more you can endure without succumbing to the temptation to doubt God?

That's exactly how I've been feeling the last couple of days. My heart is so broken and my spirit is so heavy, I think surely God must have forgotten about me. I cry out to Him, I beg Him, I plead with Him; yet it seems He cannot hear me. Am I not crying loudly enough? Are my begging and pleading not sincere enough? Why can't I make God hear me? Why won't He answer me when I call? I am just at the end of my proverbial rope!

Then, I remember what I read every time I read an email from a very dear friend. Sandy signs every email with this epitaph "When you reach the end of your rope, you will find the hem of His garment." Ohhhhhh, Sandy, how thankful I am for you! How thankful I am that you are there to remind me that the end of my rope is exactly where I need to be! It is only when I get there that I can touch Him. Just to touch the hem of his garment is enough to heal the aching in my soul; to calm the fear in my mind; to bind up my broken heart and put all the pieces of my fractured trust back together.

St. Matthew tells us in chapter fourteen, verses 35 and 36 "And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well." (NKJV)

When I read those verses, I am reminded of the Psalmist David who was so often beset with a need to cry out to His God and who so often praised His God for the constancy of His love and provision for him. As in the verses quoted above from chapter eighteen, David recounts to God his love for Him and his assurance of His protection and provision.

Just as the colorful houses in the picture above are perched on the precipice of the cliff by the raging sea, I am often perched on the precipice of doubt and despair. Just as those houses have held secure for many years and their occupants rely on that security, so I rely on the security the Lord Jesus has promised to me in His Word and the examples provided there for my edification. Not only can I trust God because of what He has done for me, but I can trust Him because of His guiding and keeping of His children from the time of Creation and into eternity.

Have I not recounted in the very recent days past how thankful I am to KNOW that I WILL see my husband again? I KNOW that because I TRUST God and what He has done for me and all others who have placed their faith in Him and repented and asked Him into their heart to abide evermore. He is my SAVIOUR, my DELIVERER, my REFUGE, my STRONGHOLD. That doesn't change in the midst of the storm. Indeed, it only intensifies. It is at those times of testing and trials that I should lean on Him the most.

I am so thankful God not only loved me enough to provide an avenue of redemption for me, but He also loves me enough to continually remind me of His provision, His love and His steadfast presence in the form of the Great Comforter, the Holy Spirit. He indwells me and guides me and comforts me, but only if I submit my burdened heart and my broken soul to Him.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being my SAVIOUR, my DELIVERER, my REFUGE, my STRONGHOLD and my COMFORTER. Help me Jesus to humbly offer my troubled heart and broken soul to You. Help me let You bear my burden. Forgive me of my pride and lead me in Your paths so that I might lead others to You. I love You, my Jesus. Heavenly Father, You alone are worthy of my gratitude and praise and I offer it to You with a broken and contrite heart. In the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, I make these requests. AMEN

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Beautiful Dream~~~A Beautiful Life

Early Tuesday morning, I had the most beautiful dream.

I dreamed of my dear Terry. He was so virile and strong, walking straight, laughing, joking, talking............the Terry I remember BEFORE the illness took over. It was WONDERFUL! How uplifting to see him once again able to stand up and walk across the floor; no brace, cane or walker needed. He talked with a clear mind and a strong voice. His hands were strong and steady, just as they had been that first time he took my hand in his own so many, many years ago; no more shaking and dropping things. He laughed heartily with gusto, eyes twinkling with that glint of devilment that I had seen so many times before.

THIS was Terry, MY Terry....the Terry I fell in love with and shared a life with. THIS was the man who had bowled me over at the first look. He was confident and handsome, clearly a catch by any standards! His hands were large, yet his touch was so tender and gentle. His eyes revealed a heart of gold that had been refined by the fires of life, even at his young age. It would take me years to learn just how much refining that gentle heart had seen. He had the rough edges girls like in their men. No man is fit for a husband unless he needs your special touch! Even at the tender age of 15, I knew he was THE ONE, the one I would spend my life with.

That first meeting was on May 12, 1973. He called and asked me out on a blind date. We had a mutual friend who had suggested he call me. I was SHOCKED when my parents agreed for me to go! This couldn't possibly be MY parents who had just said yes to a blind date?! We had a wonderful time together. We laughed, we talked; he ate and I watched! The night flew by and it was time to go home much sooner than either of us wanted. He walked me to my door and kissed me gently on my cheek. He asked if he could call me again. I nearly burst in order to keep from shouting from the rooftop "YES"!!!

On July 27, 1973, he asked me to 'go steady' and wear his ring. (Yes, I am old and we did still 'go steady' back in the good old days!) Of course, I said yes and was happier that I had dared dream I could be. The days, weeks and months passed blissfully for me. I could not have been happier. I was so young, yet I knew beyond doubt that Terry and I were meant to be together for life. I loved him and I knew he loved me. We did casual things together and found unbelievable happiness in each other's presence. Although it has been a few years since he had attended church, he began to come with me to church every weekend.

On a particular Saturday evening in May, 1974, we were to attend a church function together. I had not heard from Terry all day and that was very unusual. It had been months since we had been apart on a Saturday unless he had to work that day. I knew he wasn't working on this particular Saturday. We were due to leave my house for the church function at 6:45 p.m. At 6:40, Terry came screeching into our driveway as though he were a bat out of hell! He jumped out of the car and ran up to my door. He apologized profusely for almost being late and said he would explain after church.

That evening was so totally miserable for me. I could not for the life of me guess why he had been so late, and even more, why he had not called all day. All the worst scenarios played through my mind as we sat at church. By the time we headed home, I was about ready to have a panic attack! We drove home all but silently......still no explanation for the day's events. When we got back to my house, he parked the car and we walked in. He joked and kidded around with my family for a while and then said he had to go back to his car for something he had forgotten.

It was Saturday evening, May 4, 1974, about 8:30 p.m. I was standing in Mommas kitchen helping her get some snacks together so we could watch T.V. Terry walked into the room with this strange look on his face, yet with a bright smile. He walked up to me, took my hand, dropped to one knee and pulled out a box from his pocket. He opened the box, revealing a beautiful diamond engagement ring with a lovely gold wedding band! I started to cry and so did Momma!

He pulled the engagement ring from the box, held both my hands in his, looked up at me with tears streaming down his face and said "I never knew what love was until the day I met you. You have given me more happiness in this year since we've met than I had known in all the years before. I love you with all my being and never want to be without you in my life ever again. I don't have a lot to offer you, but I give you my heart and devotion for all eternity if you will agree to be my wife. I adore you Di. Will you marry me?" ( I can still recite it word for word because I seared it into my brain as he spoke the words and then wrote them down as soon as I had the chance! I NEVER want to forget those words.)

I dropped to my knees in front of him and fell into his arms bawling almost uncontrollably and repeating "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" over and over again. I was crying, Momma was crying, Terry was crying, Daddy was crying and my sisters were crying and laughing and jumping up and down squealing! Terry slid the ring on my finger and it never left my hand until years later when I had surgery. At that moment in time, I thought I could never be happier. Terry made sure I was wrong.

We spent the next year planning our wedding and my high school graduation. We were ecstatically happy and couldn't wait to be married and begin our life together. The year was gone in a flash and our wedding day arrived. We repeated our vows before a full house of family and friends on the evening of June 14, 1975 at Brints Chapel Baptist Church, only 3 miles from the farm where I had grown up. As I stood at the altar with Terry and the minister spoke the vows... for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others until death you do part...I looked up and Terry and thought "do I really love this man enough to stay with him until I die?" The doubt lasted a fleeting second and I said "I do".

When I stood at that altar and repeated those vows, I only thought I loved Terry. It was such a young and innocent love, not yet tried by the fires of life. As the years passed, those fires sometimes burned more fiercely than we thought we could survive. We kept our faith in the Lord and dedicated ourselves to making our love grow. We committed ourselves to settling our differences by the end of each day, never going to sleep with anger or bitterness unresolved between us. We kept that promise to each other and to our Lord. In over 33 years together, we never went to sleep angry or bitter or with unresolved issues between us.

So many times over the years, our love was tried. We faced each trial with a knowledge that our faith would sustain us. Although we strayed from our commitment to the Lord in our early years together, we never strayed so far away as to forget who God was and how much we needed Him. Coming home to our Lord after our sojourn in the far country only served to strengthen the bond of our love for each other. The years passed, the trials came, the storms blew in our lives just as they do in every marriage. We never gave up on our Lord and He never gave up on us. I never gave up on Terry and he never gave up on me.

When the final storm came, I knew without doubt that indeed, I loved this man and I could and would be by his side till death parted us. The journey was not an easy one, nor for the faint of heart. The days and nights were long and lonely. The hours sometimes seemed to last for days and yet many of the hours seemed to be only seconds in passing. Each minute is a treasure I will hold in my heart till eternity passes. One of the greatest blessings of my life was to have shared those last months with Terry. To be there when he was no longer strong or able to care for even his most basic needs was an opportunity to love him in a selfless manner. To give without expecting anything in return, yet to receive more in return than I could have ever possibly given.

As in much of our life together, the final days were spent mostly alone, just the two of us. We talked, we laughed, we cried. We remembered those precious days gone by. Then, when the end was growing ever nearer, our family came in and helped to carry us through that last dark valley together. As he breathed his last breath, I stroked his face and his hands and whispered reassurances of my unending love for him and encouraged him to reach out to Jesus, who was waiting to take his hand and lead him to his heavenly home. I slipped the oxygen cannula from his nose, kissed his warm lips one last time and stroked his face as he struggled to take that last earthly breath.

A fleeting second in time separated his earthly existence and his heavenly entrance. Incredible, assuring, calm peace immediately flooded his room as his soul slipped from the bonds of his earthly body into his immortal home. Just as He had been for all of our years together, the Lord Jesus was there with us and for us and carried our love through that last opened doorway into immortality. I raised my hands and praised Jesus for taking Terry home with Him. His struggles were finally over and he was at rest and at peace.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Psalm 116:15

A Heavy Heart

Today, my heart is heavy with grief and shock. A precious young woman that I have loved like my very own died suddenly yesterday afternoon at her home. Dawn Michelle was only 36 years old. She was a loving mother to Michael, aged 14, and Chelsea, aged 9, and a dedicated wife to Bubba, her husband of 17 years. She leaves a younger sister, a younger brother, two parents who are lost and wondering how in the world this could be true. She has 2 nephews and 2 nieces who will love her forever. She also leaves a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law. That says nothing of her extended family, which is numerous, her church family and her many, many friends.

I sit here typing and wondering how I can convey with mere words what this sweet girl means to me. She entertained me from the day she entered this world with her beautiful smile and her quick wit. She had grown into a wonderful young woman who loved her family so dearly and thought no sacrifice too great for her husband or her children. In my mind's eye, I see a curly haired little angel baby toddling around laughing. A young girl so ready to share a joke and have a good time. A teen so unsure of herself and yet so incredibly beautiful. A young woman ready to commit to marriage even though many thought it a bad idea. We must have been wrong. The marriage worked and produced two precious babies that loved their Mom so deeply.

Chelle was our name for her. She was so incredibly beautiful, both inside and out. We laughed together, cried together, mourned together, praised our Lord together. When she married, I was there. When her first baby was born, I was there. When she doubted herself, I was there and when she found the truly special woman she was created to be, I was there too. I held her in my arms and changed her diapers when she was a baby. I bounced her on my knees and cuddled her when she was a child. I watched her playing dress-up in my old formals and my wedding gown when she was a burgeoning teen. Then, I watched her walk down that aisle in her own wedding dress when she became a young woman. I watched her tiny little body enlarge by the day when she was carrying Michael and I saw the tears rolling down her face when she first looked into his little pudgy face.

A lifetime cut much too short, much too soon. Yet, she had fulfilled her purpose here and the Lord lifted her to her heavenly reward. And so we are left here to find our way without her. Yet, she lives in the eyes of her precious children and in the hearts and memories of all who ever knew her. We will miss you Chelle and we will love you forever. Our hearts will go on and we will meet again in the sweet by and by.